LOS ANGELES, CA — It may have been only a practice, but it was still a special afternoon.
The Rams have gone through an offseason program in Oxnard, and a week of training camp in Irvine. But the club may finally feel a bit at home after hosting Family Day at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The once-and-current home of the L.A. Rams was buzzing from when the doors opened at 1 o’clock to when the final whistle blew at 5:30. And those in attendance were treated to a particularly competitive practice.
With the Rams in full pads, head coach Jeff Fisher said all units got after it in order to foster improvement throughout the squad.
“They came out and we got better today,” Fisher said. “I don’t know how we’re going to be next week, but we definitely got better today as a team. I saw good things from everybody. We stayed healthy and what we would consider to be somewhat of a physical practice, so we stayed healthy. We got in great work, so they got a day off tomorrow.”
“We most definitely got better today,” running back Todd Gurley said. “It was a great day of work, especially for the offense. We were able to get some of those red zone scores and some of those goal-line runs, which we really need to put points on the board. It felt like offense and defense — we all got better today.”
Los Angeles went through a normal practice routine — individual drills, 1-on-1s, 7-on-7, 11-on-11, and special teams work. There were a few standout players in each situation. Wide receiver Bradley Marquez made a tough catch in the end zone from Case Keenum in 1-on-1s. Tight end Tyler Higbee made a number of touchdown receptions in the red zone during 7-on-7. And Keenum made a few nice throws to wideout Kenny Britt during team drills.
But the highlight of the day was quarterback Jared Goff’s performance during a two-minute drill toward the end of practice.
Goff began the period with a pair of sharp throws to fellow rookie wide receiver Nelson Spruce — both of which were toward the sideline and stopped the clock. Next, Goff scrambled for a first down, making it out of bounds to once again freeze the time. While a pass went off wide receiver Duke Williams’ hands and was nearly intercepted inside the five-yard line, Goff went right back to Williams for a reception to put the offense at 4th-and-goal from the one.
“I told [Williams], right after he dropped it — I said I’m going to come right back here,” Goff said. “Sure enough, I did.”
On conceivably the last play, Goff found Williams at the back of the end zone for a touchdown, capping a great drive and a strong day.
“I don’t know if you saw the two-minute drill, but that stuff was real,” Fisher said. “He was locked in, focused, and he knew exactly where the play clock was, game clock, timeouts, everything.
“He had a good day today — you know, finish up the week on a really good note and now he can get his mind right for next weekend,” Fisher added.
Goff said one of the reasons for his prowess in the two-minute drill was his familiarity with the plays.
“A lot of plays we have ran a lot. I felt really comfortable with it,” Goff said. “We didn’t run anything out of the ordinary, so it was good.”
After a rough day toward the beginning of camp, Williams has come back with a string of nice practices. Fisher he’s noticed improvement out of the wide receiver, but would like to see more consistency.
“He’ll catch three, drop one, so we’ll need to get him to catch four, no drops — that type of thing,” Fisher said. “But he’s getting a feel for what we’re doing. He’s been active. And, as I mentioned, Duke lost a lot of weight during the summer, and he knows that this is his only opportunity, so we’ll wait and see how he does. But you should expect to see him be productive in the second half of the preseason games.”
Those exhibition matchups will begin in just a week with the Rams taking on the Cowboys at the Coliseum. Family Day served as a dress rehearsal of sorts for everyone to get the stadium prepared for the first NFL contest at the venue in over two decades.
“The organization, the Coliseum, and everybody looked at it kind of as that first step — that dry run type of thing, and things were perfect,” Fisher said. “We’re looking forward to next weekend.”
That goes from the on-field, playing standpoint as well.
“Seems like a long time coming. But it’ll be nice,” Goff said. “I’m sure it’ll be great. I’m sure we will have a packed house and have a lot of fun playing the Cowboys and hopefully execute and play well.”
And so the Rams will take a day off to rest and recover before getting back to business on Monday afternoon with a 3:30 practice at UC Irvine.
“This will conclude that first difficult phase of training camp,” Fisher said. “And we couldn’t think of a better way than to do it here in front of the fans and in this environment. It was just really, really, really fun.”