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With joint practices not allowed, how will Rams handle preseason?

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  • With joint practices not allowed, how will Rams handle preseason?


    Cameron DaSilva
    3 hours ago
    The coronavirus pandemic may force Sean McVay to change one of his core offseason strategies this year. In each of the last two offseasons, McVay has played it safe by keeping his top players out of preseason action in an attempt to avoid injury.

    That’ll be much more difficult to do this year after the NFL informed teams that joint practices will not be allowed this summer.

    Joint practices have been a staple of training camp for the Rams in recent years. McVay has talked about the value they carry for players and coaches, allowing guys to compete against other teams in controlled environments.

    The risk of injury in joint practices is far lower than it is in the preseason, which is part of the reason McVay has let his starters loose in practices against other teams instead of letting them hit the field for meaningless preseason games.

    “There’s a premium on some of these practices where we’re going to get a chance to compete against the Chargers twice while we’re out here and then the Raiders twice when we go up to Napa,” McVay said last year. “If we feel like we’ve gotten the work necessary, then that can rally almost serve as the preseason work in a little bit more of a controlled setting.”

    Jared Goff said in 2019 that he prefers joint practices to preseason games, too.

    “I prefer them over preseason games, honestly, because we’re able to get the work in a controlled environment,” he said.

    None of the Rams’ primary starters played in the preseason last year. Micah Kiser was one of the few would-be starters who did participate, and he suffered a pectoral injury that sidelined him for the entire season.

    No significant injuries were suffered by Rams players in joint practices, and players were still able to go full speed and compete against an opponent that wasn’t their own teammates like it would be in a normal practice.

    These joint practices don’t lack intensity, either. Last year, punches were thrown as a small fight broke out during the Rams’ session with the Raiders. Tempers cooled down quickly, but it was an example of how seriously players take these joint practices.

    The Rams would’ve had the opportunity to hold joint sessions with their preseason opponents again this year, with the Raiders and Chargers both on the exhibition schedule. The Rams practiced against both teams last year.

    Now with joint practices unavailable, how will McVay handle the preseason? Will he allow his starters to play limited snaps in an attempt to simply get them warmed up before the regular season? Or will he once again hold them on the sidelines and let the backups get extensive work?

    McVay hasn’t said what approach he’ll take, but don’t expect him to stray too far from his core philosophy regarding the preseason. He’ll most likely keep players such as Jared Goff, Andrew Whitworth, Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and Michael Brockers – proven veterans locked into starting jobs – on the sidelines.

    The biggest difference this year compared to the 2019 preseason is the number of position battles and new faces near the top of the depth chart. The Rams still have competitions to sort out at center, guard, right tackle, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, as well as the No. 3 wide receiver and cornerback spots. Will camp practices be enough to settle those battles? Or will the coaching staff need the preseason to determine starters at each spot, too?

    Not to mention, Cam Akers could be the starting running back, and thrusting him into action in Week 1 without any preseason work could be a gamble by McVay. The same goes for Terrell Burgess if he emerges as the best option at nickel corner.

    McVay will have some tough decisions to make, but knowing his stance on the preseason and keeping players healthy, don’t hold your breath on seeing the Rams’ biggest stars suit up for meaningless exhibition games in August.

    Akers as a starter is perhaps not that much of a stretch. If he is as quick mentally as he is physically, he should be able to grasp enough of the playbook to warrant a lot of touches. His instincts can't be taught - IMO that's the reason the Rams drafted him. We'll see, if in fact we actually have a season this year ...

  • #2

    Cameron DaSilva

    Jared Goff said in 2019 that he prefers joint practices to preseason games, too.

    “I prefer them over preseason games, honestly, because we’re able to get the work in a controlled environment,” he said.


    Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
    Akers as a starter is perhaps not that much of a stretch. If he is as quick mentally as he is physically, he should be able to grasp enough of the playbook to warrant a lot of touches. His instincts can't be taught - IMO that's the reason the Rams drafted him. We'll see, if in fact we actually have a season this year ...
    I know I'm not that expert most people are, but from what I saw of last year, I don't think Goff got the necessary work in last year. And maybe that controlled environment was a little too controlled and protective for him to learn how to play in an uncontrolled real live game.


    gap

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by gap View Post

      I don't think Goff got the necessary work in last year. And maybe that controlled environment was a little too controlled and protective for him to learn how to play in an uncontrolled real live game.

      gap
      You bring up a valid point that surely bedevils NFL coaches throughout the league. If a coach plays his #1 quarterback in preseason and that qb gets knocked out for a season or even half a season by some undrafted rookie who’s desperately trying to catch his coach’s eye, then that coach can easily be viewed as an idiot or not very smart by some. On the other hand, if he gives in to erring on the side of caution, then there is likely going to be some rust when the games actually count. It’s a pick your poison scenario, after all - hindsight is 20/20 right?

      I am on the fence with this issue. I have to trust our coaching staff to make the right call. There are so many other factors which surely influence that decision. If you are going to trot your starting qb out there, I would think you would want your O-line starters to be out there to protect him as well. We don’t even know for certain who our starters will be on the O-line. Even if we did, are all of them healthy enough to go out and bang heads? I could go - on etc.

      For sure it is a conundrum that coaches must deal with every year prior to regular season games. We shouldn’t forget coaches are free to change their minds as circumstances vary each year. Therefore it is possible some of our starters could see more playing time in preseason games this year than last. I’m no expert either, and I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions. Most of all I just hope things work out to where we can have a season ...


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      • Nick
        Rams might sit starters for another preseason game
        by Nick
        Rams might sit starters for another preseason game
        Lopsided loss to Ravens isn't likely to change cautious approach to exhibitions
        By RICH HAMMOND | [email protected] | Orange County Register
        PUBLISHED: August 10, 2018 at 6:30 pm | UPDATED: August 10, 2018 at 6:38 pm

        The game is football, but there’s some poker involved. Rams coach Sean McVay doesn’t want to tip his hand in the preseason, and he also wants to weigh the odds that, for some teams, end in disaster.

        The Rams lost 33-7 to Baltimore in Thursday’s exhibition, a score of no consequence. The preseason is about examining young players and giving starters just enough work to get in game shape. Given the injury risk and intensity of training camp, it’s fair to ask whether veterans need the preseason at all.

        McVay said he hasn’t yet considered nixing the entire preseason for his starters. Emphasis should be placed on the word “yet.”

        “It’s a really delicate balance,” McVay said in a Friday conference call with reporters, “of measuring the value of getting some experience before that game, but also making sure that you don’t put guys in harm’s way and add the risk of losing them for the season. We don’t ever want to play scared, but you want to balance. How can you do it in a smart way and get guys ready to go?”

        It’s clear that McVay is leaning toward pragmatism in the preseason, and not just because of injuries, but if he needed a reminder, Washington running back Derrius Guice tore an ACL in a game Thursday.

        Meanwhile, Rams star back Todd Gurley stood on the sideline in casual wear, knee ligaments intact. The Rams chose to keep all but two of their regular starters out of the game, and it showed in the results, as the Rams’ backups got throttled in the first quarter, when the Ravens gave their starters some work.

        McVay had no regrets. After the game, he indicated that he might again hold out starters for the Aug. 18 game against Oakland. One with an ear for coach-speak might think the decision already has been made.

        “There’s definitely going to be good dialogue between our coaching staff,” McVay said, “with regard to how we want to handle this next week.”

        There’s another tricky thing. Two of the Rams’ three final preseason opponents – Oakland and New Orleans – also are regular-season opponents. The gap between the two games against the Raiders is only 23 days, which makes one wonder what the league office was thinking.

        Why should McVay – or Oakland coach Jon Gruden – show anything to a soon-to-be opponent? McVay’s play-calling against the Ravens on Thursday was very bland, no doubt by design, and he certainly won’t be apt to open things up against the Raiders.

        There is a flip side. While teams practice on a near-daily basis during training camp, most – like the Rams – do not tackle. There is some value in getting players that contact,...
        -08-11-2018, 09:05 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Rams veteran lineman Andrew Whitworth says missing preseason games is no big deal
        by r8rh8rmike
        Rams veteran lineman Andrew Whitworth says missing preseason games is no big deal

        By Rich Hammond | [email protected] | Orange County Register
        PUBLISHED: August 27, 2018 at 5:39 pm | UPDATED: August 27, 2018 at 8:08 pm

        THOUSAND OAKS – No preseason? So what? A few years ago, Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth basically climbed off the trainer’s table and walked into regular-season action.

        The Rams decided against playing offensive starters in any of their four preseason games this month. That schedule concludes Thursday at New Orleans, and defensive starters also will sit. Much of that decision was influenced by Whitworth and center John Sullivan, and the Rams’ desire to keep them healthy.

        Whitworth, 36, and Sullivan, 33, are the Rams’ oldest starters, and frequently are rested. The Rams even gave Whitworth the afternoon off as they practiced at Cal Lutheran on Monday. Even though neither Whitworth nor Sullivan missed a game because of injury last season, the Rams remain cautious.

        “I don’t think it bothers me, one way or the other,” Whitworth said of not playing. “For a lineman specifically, there’s really nothing that I’m looking for in a (preseason) game to be ready to play. As long as I’m practicing and feel like I’m getting a lot of competition, I feel great about it.” Because the recent trend, among every NFL team, has been to sit all starters for the final preseason game, all Rams offensive starters will make their 2018 debut during the Sept. 10 season opener at Oakland. That’s a gap of nine months between full-contact games, and while much of the focus has been on the readiness of quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley, the offensive line is just as important.

        Coach Sean McVay has further reason to keep Whitworth and Sullivan upright. Right guard Jamon Brown must serve a two-game suspension to start the season, so an injury to another starting lineman would be disastrous. The Rams already need to call upon their most talented backup, Austin Blythe.

        Blythe, a third-year lineman, remains on track to start at right guard during the first two weeks. McVay said Blythe will not play Thursday, a clear indication that the Rams consider him to be a starter.

        Young players such as Blythe and rookie tackle Joe Noteboom, who also has been taking extensive snaps at guard, can find immense value in the preseason, but for a player such as Whitworth, who is preparing for his 13th NFL season, there isn’t much left to learn.

        “I’ve done everything I need to do, practice-wise,” Whitworth said. “If you’re really looking for situational stuff that comes up, there’s really nothing (in preseason) that I experience that is any kind of situational thing. A couple first downs, a couple third downs, and that’s it.”

        Still, it’s new for two guys with a combined total of 22 years in the NFL. Sullivan never has gone a full preseason...
        -08-29-2018, 04:14 PM
      • Nick
        McVay unhappy about Rams practice after preseason opener
        by Nick
        Hopefully the staff can get things back on track and the players respond. Not exactly the type of report you'd like to hear after the preseason opener....
        -08-11-2018, 05:45 PM
      • Nick
        Rams won't show much in preseason game vs Raiders since teams meet in season opener
        by Nick
        Rams won't show much in next preseason game, against Raiders, since teams meet in season opener
        By GARY KLEIN
        AUG 10, 2018 | 8:30 PM

        The Rams play host to the Oakland Raiders next week, so fans finally will get a chance to see new and returning Rams star players in action at the Coliseum.

        Not so fast.

        Only two of the Rams’ projected 22 starters played in Thursday night’s defeat by the Baltimore Ravens.

        In light of several serious injuries suffered by NFL players in preseason openers, Rams coach Sean McVay was asked Friday if there was a possible scenario in which stars such as quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh would not play a preseason snap.

        “I wouldn’t go that far, yet,” McVay said during a teleconference with reporters, adding, “It’s not, certainly, out of the question how we would approach the Oakland game.”

        The Rams participated in two joint practices with the Ravens before McVay held out nearly all starters during the 33-7 defeat at M&T Bank Stadium. McVay said after the game that had been the plan all along.

        He also indicated that he might deploy a similar strategy against the Raiders, especially with his team playing at Oakland in a Sept. 10 season opener on “Monday Night Football.”

        If McVay had any doubts, they probably were confirmed by news out of San Francisco and Washington.

        Tight end George Kittle and running back Matt Breida suffered shoulder injuries in the 49ers’ preseason opener. Redskins running back Derrius Guice suffered a season-ending knee injury.

        Guice, a rookie, had six carries for 19 yards when he was injured.

        “It’s a really delicate balance of measuring the importance of getting some experience” before the regular-season opener, McVay said, “but then also making sure that you don’t put guys in harm’s way and at the risk of losing them for the season.”

        In a rush
        Samson Ebukam came off the left edge and chased Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco as he scrambled to the right. The second-year linebacker was bearing down on his target when Flacco dropped to the ground in a slide.

        “He was a little bit faster than I thought,” Ebukam said after the game. “It’s a good thing I didn’t dive or I would have looked really slow.”

        Ebukam and offensive lineman Jamon Brown were the only starters who played against the Ravens, and McVay said Friday that Ebukam was among the players that performed especially well.

        Ebukam said the game action was a welcome change from practices that do not include live tackling.

        “I’m always getting next to the quarterback and I’m always having to slow down,” he said. “It felt good just to be able to pull the trigger.

        “I got to work out all the kinks and come back next week strong.”

        Another test passed
        Cornerback...
        -08-11-2018, 09:07 AM
      • Ram Dragoon
        Time to close the book on 2019 preseason
        by Ram Dragoon
        Well one more window dressing game left against the Texans. For the most part I don't think the Rams really want to play that 4th game because there isn't really much to learn who has what to offer to make the 53. Two things standout in this preseason. First either the talent wasn't that deep among rookie class to over come those they were pitted against games 1, 2, and 3, or they just didn't really wanted to make a career in the NFL. Out played, out hustled, and out disciplined pretty much sums up the 2019 rookie class--certainly with their job on the line there really didn't seem like a lot of fire in their bellies where perhaps extra effort would have paid off

        To be fair McVay really hasn't tipped his hand in anyway just what be has instore come the 2019 regular season. My only concerns going into the campaign is the OL and again the LB situation. Am sure McVay spots that his OL is vulnerable to over-load blitz and there are a host of plays that would beat it bad--that's the good news. The concern that I echoed going into 2018 was at LB position. Something of a fix was put in but honestly haven't seen the fruits of it in these last 3 games that tells me that the Rams can stop the run. Now with a somewhat questionable OL, can the Rams over come opponents scoring like they did in 2018.

        Personally looking at the Squawks and Whiners they have made progress forward while the Cards I think have taken a huge step backward or just the same old birds of 2018

        Yes, its preseason, no one really wants to showoff what they got, except for the Patriots and their defense... yet I wonder if the NFC-W is back in play or the Rams own it. Going into 2018 regular season, I knew the Rams owned the division and the only question was how well they where going to do against the rest of the NFL--can't say that going into 2019...
        -08-25-2019, 07:55 PM
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