Training Camp Report: First Joint Practice with the Chargers

Check out photos from the Rams' first joint practice with the Chargers at StubHub Center.

On the same day in which football legends LaDainian Tomlinson and Kurt Warner were enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, their former teams took the field at the StubHub Center for their first of two joint practices. In what proved to be a very big teaser to the start of NFL gamedays, the Rams kicked off Day 7 of Training Camp with a competitive and exciting afternoon on the field.

Today's practice featured a variety of different drills ranging from full-team work to individual drills and just about everything in between. All 180 players from both sides were in high spirits, showcasing their athleticism and energy throughout the two-hour practice. Here's what you missed from Rams Camp Day 7 - Joint Practice Edition:

TOP TAKEAWAYS

1. A friendly neighborhood matchup:

Even though the Rams and Chargers did not participate in live tackling, the intensity remained high throughout the entire afternoon. The practice began with a series of individual drills taking place at both end zones, with each team working on various positional warm-ups and stretches.

Then it was game-time… Sort of.

The field was split in half as each side got the chance to work on red zone drills and midfield work, switching off at each end. The Rams' offense opened up their run-game routes, letting running back Todd Gurley II loose on a selection of different plays. During one portion of the 11-on-11 drills Gurley managed to misdirect the Chargers' defense running straight up the middle before cutting back to his left and taking it in to the endzone.

McVay was happy to let Gurley stretch his legs against another team's defense, describing the back as a "violent runner," impressed with his ability to power through the gaps and break would-be tackles.

"He did a great job getting it out into the open field and there was a couple where he's reading it one gap at a time on some of the schemes we have and you can feel his speed once he gets to the corner," McVay said of Gurley's work during Day 7. "He's a guy that has been motivated and has been a standout throughout the offseason program and it's been the same throughout camp and we're expecting big things from Todd."

Both teams finished off with an assortment of situational drills taking up the full length of the field. It was during this portion of practice that the sidelines really came alive, giving the stadium a true game-like feel, specifically during the two-minute drills. The Rams' hard work on the field allowed the team some valuable experience going up against another system and will be very helpful in evaluating what the Rams will need to work on throughout the next phase of training camp. 

"I think there was some good stuff that we saw and until you really get the chance to go back and look at the tape – especially because we were doing some two-spot stuff and I was a little bit more involved in the offense," McVay said of the joint practice. "There was some good, some bad, some things we need to clean up, but I thought it was great work that we got today."

"It will be a great opportunity for us to get back and look at the tape," McVay reiterated. "The Chargers have some great players on the corner, so I thought it was great work where it's a little bit of a different structure than what we're typically accustomed to seeing from our defense every single day. This work is invaluable for us."

2. Goff showing improvement in game-time situations:

Saturday's practice also gave us an inside look at quarterback Jared Goff's improvement from Year One to Year Two in a game environment. Though the Rams did emphasize the run game there was plenty of passing to be seen from the second-year quarterback.

During the 11-on-11 drills, Goff recorded a nice completion to tight end Gerald Everett, rolling out of the pocket to his left before drilling the ball up field for a would-be first down. In his first red zone drill of the day, the quarterback found wide receiver Cooper Kupp in the endzone. Although Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa shook up the quarterback on the next play stripping the ball from his hands after the blitz, Goff recovered well - throwing to wideout Pharoh Cooper in the endzone on the following play.

But Goff's biggest bright spot of the day came in the tail end of practice during the team's two-minute drill. Goff went 8/11 for about 75 yards, taking the Rams offense all the way to the three-yard line before being held to a field goal. After practice Goff said the joint practice proved very effective, allowing him to get some good looks at another team's defense, especially with preseason just a week away.

"I felt good. [There were] a lot of things I thought we did good and a lot of things that I thought we can work on," Goff said. "Off the top of my head, I can point to a couple. But I thought for the most part, we moved the ball pretty well, especially in that two-minute drill there. I was really happy with what we were doing up front. Seeing something different today was good. It was refreshing."

McVay was also pleased with his quarterback noting Goff's football savvy during today's scrimmage along with his confidence throughout the situational drills. 

"I thought he settled in, I thought he did a nice job in the two-minute drill taking completions, being smart with the football and then at the end where we did a little bit of move the ball, he made some good third down throws," McVay said of Goff. "I think he's doing a nice job finding his rhythm, getting more comfortable every single day."

3. Secondary proves its worth:

After yesterday's practice Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips mentioned that the secondary would be the most surprising part of the Rams defense. And so far throughout the last seven days of training camp, the defensive back group alongside the linebackers have truly proved their worth.

In the joint practice today, the secondary, led by cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant and and safeties coach Ejiro Evero, played well, getting the chance to go up against the deep threat of a veteran quarterback in Philip Rivers. In training camp, Phillips' emphasis thus far has been on pass deflection and cutting down the vertical threat and today that was put on display. 

Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman continues to impress during camp. Today, Robey-Coleman had a great pass deflection stopping a long ball to the ten yard line. Linebacker Kevin Davis had the Rams' first interception of the day, placing his toes carefully in bounds for the pick. Overall, the secondary continues to be a bright spot of improvement for the Rams. Though McVay focused mainly on the offense in today's scrimmage, he made sure to give high praise to the intensity of the secondary as a whole.

"I can't wait to go back and see how the defense did," McVay said. "Because we did so many two-spot drills, I was a little bit more involved in the offense, so I can't wait to go back and look at the tape. But anytime I'm kind of peeking over my shoulder just from what we've seen throughout the offseason program – it kind of carried on today where guys were flying around, doing a good job of playing smart. I thought they did a nice job from what I saw just kind of on the brink."

FIELD-LEVEL OBSERVATIONS

  • Wide receivers Tavon Austin and Josh Reynolds along with linebacker Samson Ebukam missed today's practice, out with minor issues. They all remain day-to-day.  
  • Defensive tackle Michael Brockers and outside linebacker Robert Quinn were limited in today's practice while safety Lamarcus Joyner did not participate at all. McVay said they were held out as part of the team's management program, meant to keep all of their athletes healthy and performing at their best.
  • Cornerback E.J. Gaines had a nice one-handed grab during the warm up portion displaying solid hands even on the sidelines.
  • The defense struggled a bit with the mobility of Rivers who was able to cut up the middle on a few early routes. Later in practice the D-Line was able to hold down the run a bit more, adjusting well to the Chargers' offense.
  • Left tackle Andrew Whitworth held his own on the line, blocking well for the majority of the day against the Chargers' Melvin Ingram.
  • Linebacker Mark Barron had a nice play during the midfield drills forcing the incomplete pass from Rivers in man coverage.
  • Tight end Tyler Higbee had a nice grab in the endzone for the touchdown during red zone drills. Has connected well with Goff for the last few days.
  • Wideouts Robert Woods, Paul McRoberts, Cooper and Kupp saw a lot of action today taking the majority of the first-team reps at the receiver position.

PLAY OF THE DAY

Today's play of the day was brought to you by veteran inside linebacker Alec Ogletree. During the last portion of this afternoon's practice Ogletree showcased his quick speed on display, blitzing Rivers for the sack.

Rivers did not even have the chance to step back and settle into the pocket before Ogletree was all over him. The defensive play was a great example of the added mobility and aggressiveness in Phillips' new hybrid 3-4 scheme.

PRESS POINTS

After practice McVay spoke to the media about how he felt Day 7 went for the Rams, but also took the time to honor new Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. Catch up on his best point from Day 7: 

SEAN McVAY: 

On if the practice went like he expected it would: "I also wanted to just congratulate former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner on his Hall of Fame induction last night. What an important part of this organization he's been. I reached out and connected with him a little bit, but what a great player, what a great person and a great representation of this organization."

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