NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Rams head coach Sean McVay met with local media Monday morning ahead of the start of Training Camp presented by UNIFY Financial Credit union, discussing the beginning of camp, the current vaccination status of the team, his outlook on the running back position entering camp, and more.
Here are some of the takeaways from the conversation, which you can watch in its entirety below.
Rams' entire staff vaccinated, almost 100 percent of players
While McVay declined to provide specific numbers, he said the Rams' whole staff is vaccinated.
Additionally, they're "really close" to 100 percent of players being vaccinated and expect to be around that figure by the start of the season.
"(The vaccination process) has been really good," McVay said. "Don't want to get into the exact numbers, but we are really close to 100 percent of our players being vaccinated. Some of those guys are in the process of getting that started within the last week. (General manager) Les (Snead), (Vice President, Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie Scott, (Analyst, Football Administration) Kassandra Garcia, they've done such a good job of really helping give guys the opportunity to understand where we're coming from. But I think you do want to be understanding and respectful of, everybody has an individual approach that resonates with me, where you want to be empathetic to why they may feel good or why they may have concerns. Our guys have done a great job trying to educate us on their perspective."
Patient approach to running back position
In wake of Cam Akers tearing his Achilles last week, McVay said on ESPN LA 710 AM last Tuesday that the Rams likes the young depth on their roster at running back and would evaluate how those players handle competitive opportunities in the preseason. While the veteran route isn't something McVay would rule out, he also said it wasn't something they were looking to pursue immediately.
When asked on Monday about a set timetable to decide on which path to take – sticking with the younger players on the roster versus pursuing a free agent veteran – McVay echoed a similar sentiment and indicated they would take their time assessing their options on the current roster.
"I think as you get closer to that Bears game (in Week 1), if things don't really start to become more and more clear as you're accumulating those practice reps, I think the level of urgency starts to increase," McVay said. "But I do think that there's going to be a lot of examples of us being able to evaluate that."
In terms of those evaluation opportunities, McVay specifically cited their joint practice against the Cowboys and two joint practices against the Raiders as valuable ones. He said the younger running backs will be thrown into competitive situations on Wednesday – the first day of camp – that otherwise would not have been presented to them with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. in the mix.
Darrell Henderson Jr. a "complete back"
McVay said he has "a lot of confidence" in Henderson, calling him a "complete back." Now, it's about finding the right balance between maximizing his skillset while maintaining his health.
"What is our biggest challenge is, is not figuring out if he is capable of doing it, it's finding that sweet spot of, 'Alright, how do we maximize Darrell Henderson, while also getting some of these other guys involved?'" McVay said. "And figuring out, 'Alright, what is that touchpoint to keep him healthy throughout the regular season and a big part of our offense,' which he's going to be."
Keeping an eye on outside linebacker and the depth at cornerback and safety
As camp opens, McVay said he will be paying close attention to the outside linebackers.
"I think Justin Hollins has really inserted himself as a really good player opposite Leonard Floyd that has a versatile skill set," McVay said. "Hollins has done a lot of good things last year, but he's still an ascending player in terms of accumulating that experience. So that outside linebacker position is going to be something that we look closely at."
Cornerback and safety are two of the deeper positions. McVay said he was pleased with what David Long Jr. did at the corner, and also felt Terrell Burgess was playing starting to play his best football prior to sustaining his season-ending ankle injury in Week 7 last year. McVay said third-year safety Taylor Rapp "has done a lot of really good things," and also expressed excitement about what Jordan Fuller accomplished as a rookie last year.
"Those are guys that you have a lot of confidence in what they can do, but then actually getting the tangible experience where now you're playing in these meaningful games that count, that's going to be the thing I'm excited to see from those guys," McVay said.
Check out photos of Los Angeles Rams rookies and quarterbacks arriving to 2021 Rams Training Camp presented by UNIFY Financial Credit Union.