Check out photographer Jeff Lewis' photos of WR Robert Woods and Andrew Whitworth being introduced in Los Angeles.
It's always nice to come home again.
That's just what wide receiver Robert Woods has done by signing a five-year deal with the Rams — and in more ways than one. Woods grew up in the region before playing his college football at USC, where he still holds the program record for receptions. Of course, for the next two years, Woods will again catch passes at the Coliseum.
"Very excited to play at home, being at the Coliseum and make some more great memories," Woods said on Friday. "I had good days in the Coliseum. I just want to pick back up with the Rams and be a part of it."
Woods' family lives in the area, which is a clear plus for the young wide receiver in choosing a team in free agency.
"Family is still there, still in Carson — Rams fans of course," Woods said with a smile. "But big day, very excited — everyone is very excited for this day."
But just as important was the fit for Woods with the Rams offense. The wideout said there was some selling on Los Angeles' part that went on, but he also did his homework and came away impressed with the way head coach Sean McVay plans to get the offense going, as well as the pieces already in place.
"Young quarterback, Jared Goff, seeing him as the No. 1 pick. But you see the talent, you see the quick release, you see him stand tall in the pocket at 6-5, great arm. That's one selling point right there — he's a great quarterback," Woods said.
One of Woods' biggest strengths as a receiver is his versatility. He described himself as a complete receiver, one who can line up outside and in the slot as well as run block effectively. McVay said that is one of the reasons Los Angeles wanted to bring him in.
"A complete receiver needs to be able to play inside and outside. I think I can move all around the field. I can matchup against quick corners. I can matchup against big corners with speed and quickness," Woods said. "And blocking — the last thing is blocking. Blocking on the outside and on the perimeter to get our backs free, which I have done previously."
"I've been a big fan of Robert's, watching him all the way from when he was playing at USC, and think he's one of the rare players that has the ability to play both on the inside and the outside," McVay said. "Competes in both phases — he competes in the run game where he's blocking for his teammates just like he was mentioning there. Those are the types of players that we want here, so we feel lucky to have a guy like him now."
Woods' youth could also prove to be an advantage. Though he's averaged 51 receptions with 613 yards and three touchdowns through his first three seasons, McVay said he sees plenty of room for Woods to grow, particularly because he's coming off his rookie contract at the age of 24.
"One of the things you really appreciate about him is when he's at the top of his routes, his ability to create that immediate separation because he makes guys truly feel like he is stretching the field [vertically], then he's snapping down at 15 [yards] with good body lean," McVay said. "So, he's done a lot of things that you really respect about the position, in terms of the polish and what he brings, both in terms of being able to play both on the inside and the outside."
Despite his young age, Woods' maturity came across in his in Woods' first meeting with the Los Angeles media. Upon being asked if he'd like to take in some of his alma mater's games on Saturday afternoons, Woods seemed to have something else front of mind.
"Maybe, or definitely that's an opportunity to get with Mr. Goff and get in preparation, as much preparation as we can for Sundays' games," Woods said. "We're trying to turn this thing around, get some wins going. Most of all, all the work, all the time we need, we definitely need to be focused on the Rams and winning football."
Having played at the Coliseum as a professional last year in the Rams' Week 5 matchup with the Bills, suiting up again in the storied building won't be a completely new experience. But that doesn't make it less special.
"Coming out of the tunnel of the Coliseum, everything is the same. Hitting the field was just how we left it," Woods said. "Hopefully, it's the same feeling."
And so for an Los Angeles native like Woods, a homecoming with the Rams is special.
"I've always wanted to come home and play for the hometown team," Woods said. "The Rams made the trip home and so did I."