At long last, training camp is here.
The Rams opened up their 2017 training camp with their first official practice on Saturday afternoon at UC Irvine.
Though the team did not suit up in full pads, if Saturday's practice was any indication, it should be an exciting month of football here in Orange County. Here are the biggest takeaways from Day 1.
1. The Phillips' era of defense is here
For the first time, the Rams' defense publicly showcased its transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme under coordinator Wade Phillips.
The front line, led by Michael Brockers and Dominique Easley, looked strong up front, causing a few would-be sacks throughout practice. McVay praised the defense as a whole, anticipating the unit's progression under Phillips' instruction.
"When you're able to get a great defensive look like what our defense created today it can only make you better offensively," he said. "I think that's great work. I think until you really put the pads on is when the true evaluations can take place with some of the things that occur upfront. But, I thought it was a good start for the defense as a whole."
In addition to the line, the Rams' secondary had a solid day. At one point cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant physically and verbally expressed his excitement for the group's progress, tossing his hat into the air and hugging cornerback Troy Hill after a pass deflection.
2. McVay makes a point to bond with players
Head coach Sean McVay has reiterated that one of his main goals throughout training camp is to build team chemistry and establish a new identity as an organization. And judging from Saturday's practice, McVay is bringing that point to the grass.
He was not only out on field moving from the offense to the defense, but he even stepped in as a player at one point, lining up at outside linebacker to cover running back Todd Gurley II.
"I like to get out and be active, otherwise I'll probably gain a lot of weight," McVay said with a laugh. "Then I had an injured quad in the offseason, so I have been rehabbing in my time off and I'm ready to run and play some DB for us now."
"Today, he came out here healthy," Goff said after acknowledging his head coach's previous injury. "I was like, 'Man, you're moving around.' He said, 'Oh yeah.' He's back."
3. Goff embracing leadership role
Goff was met with a series of chants and energetic applause as he took the field for his second training camp. The young quarterback looked composed throughout practice, communicating verbally with his team of receivers and running backs, while appearing more secure behind his offensive line.
"It's night and day. I feel good. I feel comfortable," Goff said of his first day. "Obviously, I have a really good idea of what we're trying to do this year and I felt good today. I think you just grow, you get older, you have more experiences and you know how to carry yourself a little bit differently."
Though there were still a few signs of Goff's room for improvement as a young quarterback, including a couple of missed passes and miscommunications downfield, he did look more in command as the leader on offense. That's a factor his teammates have noticed.
"On and off the field, he took more control of how we were working," receiver Tavon Austin said. "Even when we're in the huddle, he's pulling it together. He's talking to us, he's pointing towards us on certain concepts when he's telling us on certain [plays] to be ready. I like how he's taking control of the huddle."
- Austin, who was not involved in offseason workouts for the Rams after undergoing offseason wrist surgery was back for training camp today. He worked with the first-team offense and connected on a few deep routes from Goff.
- With Aaron Donald absent, Ethan Westbrooks was one of the players filling in at defensive end.
- Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and safety Maurice Alexander, along with five other players were placed back on the active roster after being put on the PUP and NFIN lists last night.
- The first interception of training camp came from defensive back Aarion Penton, an undrafted free agent out of Missouri. The pick six came off of a pass from Dan Orlovsky.
- The cutest moment of today's practice goes to McVay, who stopped to meet with a little boy on his way to the field.
PLAY OF THE DAY
During 11-on-11 drills, Goff connected with wide receiver Robert Woods on a deep crossing route downfield.
Goff later praised the receiver, calling him a "pleasant surprise" as an addition to the team.
"I knew he was a good player," Goff said, "but I think the way he's come out here and worked and the way he goes about his business has been a really cool thing to see."
The two showed good chemistry for their first practice back on field, having worked out together during the break between the offseason program and training camp.
After practice, Goff, Gurley, and McVay took the time to address the media. Catch up on three of their most interesting points after Day 1, and click here to find the full transcript.
On heading into his second season with the Rams: "I feel like you should feel going into year two. Ready to go. I think a lot of guys are ready to make the past the past and I think you just grow. Just knowing I'm the guy that they're going to look to, It is my team to lead and my team to direct and control and command. I don't take that lightly."
On if he thinks the new offense will make it easier on him: "I trust in the coaches. They have been doing a great job with putting in the offense and then obviously you have seen Coach McVay's work in Washington,so I don't understand why it wouldn't be able to work here on this level. It is the same game, NFC. So, like I said, we are just coming out here every day trying to get better. We are trying to learn the system and make sure we master our technique."
On whether it's a sigh of relief to get going with training camp: "I think we're all excited to get out there and get going. I was really pleased with the walk-thru and the guys ability to retain some of the information from the offseason program. The installs go a little bit faster than they do in the offseason. So, we're going to be on to day two tomorrow and it'll be good to get out there and we'll look at this tape tonight and make some corrections and be ready to move forward."
Check out photos from Day 1 of the Los Angeles Rams Training Camp presented by AT&T.