The team was back in full pads during Day 14 of training camp in a high intensity practice session. Today marked the team’s last full-padded practice of training camp before the team travels to Oakland to face the Raiders in Week 2 of the preseason.
The two hour practice was full of energy on both sides of the ball and featured new wide receiver Sammy Watkins being worked in with the first and second team offenses, after observing the majority of yesterday’s session. Here’s everything you need to know from Day 14 of Rams Camp:
1. Watkins taking more reps at receiver
Watkins, who was traded to the Rams from the Bills just five days ago, saw a lot more action in his second practice on Tuesday. The receiver took a lot of reps during the individual drills, recording an impressive deep catch from quarterback Jared Goff in the offense-only section.
While Watkins begins to familiarize himself with the Rams’ playbook, McVay says he will be slowly worked into the offense during the rest of the preseason. But McVay did mention that he was “pleased” with the receiver’s progress thus far.
“He’s picking things up fairly quickly,” McVay said. “It’s a tough time to come in, in terms of where we’re at in the installation because pretty much everything is in. We’ve gotten all of our situations, so we’re going a little bit faster than you’d be accustomed to earlier on. But, I thought he picked things up well.”
During the one-on-ones session, Watkins had a nice catch in the end zone, reaching over cornerback Troy Hill for the touchdown. He also had a couple of solid grabs in the team’s 11-on-11 drills on passes from Goff and Sean Mannion. As the next two days of practice unfold, we should see him targeted more in the full team drills and situational work.
“He was able to make some nice catches and you can see the movement,” McVay said. “And once he continues to get more and more comfortable, I think you’ll see him be able to play even faster.”
2. Rookie report
One rookie who had a standout day at practice was wide receiver Josh Reynolds. The Rams drafted the former Texas A&M standout in the fourth round of this year’s draft, but has been kept off the field for the majority of training camp due to a quad injury.
After returning to camp late last week, Reynolds was flying all over the field in today’s session. The receiver was targeted heavily and recorded a slew of catches even in heavy coverage situations. In this afternoon’s 7-on-7 drills, Reynolds ran straight downfield before cutting up the middle to grab a perfectly-timed ball from Goff. Later in the team’s 11-on-11 work, the receiver had back-to-back catches on quick corner routes from Mannion, grabbing onto both balls in traffic.
Though the Rams’ offense currently has 12 receivers on its active roster, including newly-signed Watkins, Reynolds did a good job today proving himself worthy of a 53-man roster spot. After practice, McVay told reporters that Reynolds “was continuing to grow” and was excited to see him take the field on Saturday.
“He looked good. He was able to track some balls down the field,” McVay said. “Josh is one of those guys that — he’s got a great stride length, consistently made big plays throughout the course of his career in college and he’s kind of one of those guys that’s deceivingly fast. So it will be good to get Josh back out there and watch him compete.”
3. Goff bounces back
Goff once again had an up and down practice, throwing two interceptions after being picked off three times on Monday. The first came from rookie safety John Johnson during 11-on-11, when Johnson lept over wide receiver Pharoh Cooper make the pick. In the same set of drills, Goff was intercepted again — this time by safety Cody Davis on a deflected pass to Watkins.
While Goff was up-and-down throughout 11-on-11 session, the quarterback seemed virtually unfazed, bouncing back to drive the offense downfield during situational drills. After two completed passes to tight end Tyler Higbee, Goff threw a beautiful ball downfield right over the head of the defender to tight end Gerald Everett for the touchdown.
The Rams’ defense has made it tough for Goff in the passing game over the last few practices, but McVay was quick to praise his quarterback’s ability to respond in the face of turnovers.
“At some point you’re going to turn the football over — it’s an occupational hazard as a quarterback,” McVay said. “The one thing you do appreciate about him is that when mistakes occur you don’t sense that he’s phased by it. He’s able to take it for what it is and then try to correct it moving forward.”
“When you make good decisions with the football, get the ball into your playmakers hands,” he added, “you give yourself your chance to play efficient football offensively and specifically through the pass game.”
- During the special teams portion of practice wide receivers Cooper Kupp, Shakeir Ryan, and Brandon Shippen took reps as punt returners.
- Cornerback Dominique Hatfield recorded the first interception of the day picking off quarterback Dan Orlovsky in one-on-ones.
- In the same session, wide receiver Robert Woods put the moves on cornerback Mike Jordan, juking the defender for a touchdown play.
- Defensive tackle Tanzel Smart continued to prove his worth as a solid rotational option on the D-line. During team drills, he had a would-be sack on Mannion, getting past the offensive line quickly to blitz the quarterback.
- Cornerback Aarion Penton grabbed the last interception of the day, picking off a tipped pass from Mannion to tight end Temarrick Hemmingway.
Wide receiver Tavon Austin will remain sidelined for the rest of the week. McVay said that the staff is hoping Austin will “be able to compete in some of the preseason games,” but getting him ready for the season opener against the Colts is the priority.
“In the meantime, like we’ve talked about, we’ll control what we can control and that’s him doing a great job with his rehab, staying up on it in the classroom,” McVay said. “And when that time comes that Director of Sports Medicine and Performance Reggie Scott and our training staff decide that he’s ready to go, we’ll be excited to have Tavon back out there.”
Outside linebackers Samson Ebukam and Ejuan Price, cornerbacks Kayvon Webster and Nickell Robey-Coleman, as well as wide receiver Nelson Spruce did not participate in today’s practice. Veteran linebacker Robert Quinn was limited in the afternoon session.
After practice linebacker Alec Ogletree discussed what he thought of the defense’s performance against the Cowboys last week. Catch up on his best points from Day 14 of Rams Camp:
ALEC OGLETREE: On what he thought of the defense as a whole in the preseason opener: “It was definitely good to get back to football again, especially against another team. I was really pleased with how we performed for the first time going out there as a group. The first game is just about, mainly getting the jitters out and just kind of going out there and doing what you’ve been doing all camp, just against another team. We definitely have a lot to work on, but I thought we got off to a good start on Saturday