Rams To Begin Exhibition Games Against Cowboys
August 10, 2017
The 2017 season can't come soon enough for the Los Angeles Rams as they strive to quickly distant themselves from last season's unimpressive return to Southern California. The first step begins this Saturday, August 12 in the first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys at 6 p.m in the L.A. Coliseum.
The team officially opened its preseason for the second straight year with practice at University of California, Irvine last week. First-year Rams Head Coach Sean McVay and his staff have 90 players on the current roster in camp. The notable absentees are two defensive linemen the team was relying heavily upon to help turn the tide this season.
Aaron Donald is currently holding out for a new contract and Dominique Easley is out for the season due to a knee injury sustained on the third day of training camp. Healthwise, the good news is only three players currently physically unable to perform are on the active list.
McVay addressed the Donald and Easley situation: "I love the way that this team has competed. I think certainly anytime that you don't have all your players here that's something that you always strive to have...
"It's kind of that next man up mentality like we have and I think the guys have done a good job. That Aaron situation is something that, like I'll continue to say, we're striving to find a solution, it's very important to us, but in the meantime guys are getting better and we've got to move forward."
In preparation for Saturday's game versus the Cowboys, the Rams scrimmaged the San Diego Chargers on Saturday, August 5, at StubHub Center in Carson. Both teams drilled on opposite sides of the field for an hour before squaring off into simultaneous seven-on-seven offensive sets, punt return simulations and light-contact red-zone drills.
The Rams and Chargers also scrimmaged at UC Irvine this Wednesday that included a number of skirmishes between the instant L.A. rivals. McVay: "Guys are great competitors, like I said we always want to be mindful, smart of this about how we do this. I’ve been a part of something like this when we practiced against the Texans in Washington. Fortunately nobody got hurt as a result of it and we’ll try to be mindful of those things moving forward.”
"I think we're always striving to improve and I think the games and playing against other teams are your best measuring stick to see where you're at. I think we always are striving to just focus on one day at a time and if we do that we feel like those incremental gains will lead to good things and that's kind of what our message is to the team and that's what the guys are doing."
There's also been focus on the coaching staff shuffling the offensive line as they look for the best combinations in how they want to do things. McVay feels good about what linemen Jamon Brown and Rob Havenstein have done on the right side. Contingency plans are in place to mix the line up with the exception of guard Rodger Saffold, center John Sullivan and tackle Andrew Whitworth.
"The guys are trying hard to do what they're asked. We're making a clear push to do it right and putting in that work effort. With the new staff we're starting from zero with everything. I think we got a good foot on it in Spring and we're building off it here. We're trying to build our culture up, our identity," said Havenstein.
"We have great leadership on that left side with John all the way out to Whit with Rog in the middle. The guys are doing a great job taking me and Jamon on and anyone else that gets thrown in there with the two's and threes and leading them."
"Of course the exhibition game means something. Preseason game, practice, you still want to take your best competitive advantage and put your best foot out there, always."
The Rams projected starters for Saturday's home game against Dallas: Offense - Robert Woods (WR), Andrew Whitworth (LT), Rodger Saffold (LG), John Sullivan (C), Rob Havenstein (RG), Jamon Brown (RT), Tyler Higbee (TE) Cooper Kupp (WR), Tavon Austin (WR), Jared Goff (Q) and Todd Gurley (RB). Key backups – Andrew Donnal (OL), Pharoh Cooper (WR) and Gerald Everett (TE).
Defense – Ethatn Westbrooks (DE), Michael Brockers (NT), Louis Trinca-Pasat (DT), Robert Quinn (OLB), Connor Barwin (OLB), Alec Ogletree (LB), Mark Barron (LB), Trumaine Johnson (LCB), Kayvon Webster (RCB), Lamarcus Joyner (FS) and Maurice Alexander (SS). Key backups – Nickell Robey Coleman (CB) and E.J. Gaines (CB).
"I think we're really starting to come together as a team and that's what it's all about. As we get through our installs it's about tightening up the techniques and making sure that with some of the things that test our rules, we're on top of it," said McVay.
"Same thing with the coaches. I feel very fortunate to have a great coaching staff, guys that I can lean on and I think they do a great job pushing their players to help them try to reach their highest potential and that's what it's all about."