Rams Training Camp Notes: 08/21/2016

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Rams

Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher – Press Conference – August 21, 2016

(Opening remarks)

“We spent, as we always do the day after the game, looking at things with the staff – both sides and special teams. There’s a lot of good things that happened in this game, and obviously there’s a lot of things that need to be corrected. The positive things, one thing that’s encouraging from an offensive stand-point, is that, from a team stand-point, is that we’ve had seven drives that have gone into the red zone, and we’ve come away with seven touchdowns. That’s a significant improvement over where we were last year. Being realistic, it’s still preseason, but we’re accomplishing what we want to accomplish as we go into the games. I’m pleased with the run game. I was especially pleased with the second-half offense, the offensive line, the backup offensive linemen; they’re making a difference in there. I can see improvement there.

 

“It was fun to watch (QB) Case (Keenum) operate. It was fun to see (RB) Todd (Gurley) work, in his one and only series. We’ve been waiting to get (TE) (Temarrick) Hemingway back in the game. He made some significant plays for us, not only in the passing game, but in the run game. Overall, offensively, we’re progressing. We’re not where we need to be. I was pleased with Case. Once (QB) Jared (Goff) settled down a little bit, you can see things change. He got on a roll, and in a rhythm and we had the run game helping him. He made some big throws. Disappointed that we didn’t get (QB) Sean (Mannion) in the game, but we hope to get him some reps this coming week at Denver.

 

“On the defensive side, the defense has not given up any points in the second half the last two games. Is the glass half full, or is it half empty? I’d rather see no points given up in the first half than I would the second half, because your starters are playing the first half. But then again, we’re not game planning, per say. But, too many big plays, too many explosive plays, not enough plays on third down, not enough turnovers by our standards. And of course, the game itself was framed by time of possession. The defense was on the field almost 37 minutes. So, therein lies the problem with getting your offense some reps. We’re a little disappointed we didn’t get more offensive reps, but we made the most of them.

 

“Special teams, rough start last week on the first play, as we talked about. The Kansas City Chiefs are, not only very well coached, but they have a talented group of special teams players. There are three or four of their players that have been there for a number of years that we got to match up with. And when you talk about individual matchups on special teams, it was really good work for us. We learned some things; some of our younger players learned some things, because they were competing against some of their starting core group of special teams players. (P) Johnny (Hekker) didn’t have the best day yesterday. We’ll work this week. We didn’t necessarily get the ball placed where we wanted to get it placed, but we got a lot of quality work out of our special teams group, especially in the second half. Keep in mind, when you take a player that’s in a 10 or 12 play drive on defense, a linebacker for example, and then he’s got to line up and block on a punt return, or cover a kickoff, or those kinds of things, or a player participates on kickoff return, it puts stress on them. We evaluate based on that. We’ve got some younger players that can play in this league on special teams. Overall, probably the most encouraging thing about the night last night was the fans. The players were talking about it well after the game, how hard it was to hear there at the end. I got word back from (Chiefs QB) Alex Smith, that this is a preseason game, and this place is louder than some of the toughest places that he’s played. The fan participation, and support, and energy was great. We obviously know that’s only going to improve as we hit the regular season.”

 

(On the level of concern regarding the secondary)

“We need to get better. ‘Mo’ (S Maurice Alexander) didn’t play in the game yesterday. I hope that we’ll get him back in this week. (S) Cody (Davis) stepped in, and Cody did a nice job at the safety position. (S) T.J. (McDonald) is coming on. He’s missed some offseason, but T.J. is coming on. ‘Tru’ (CB Trumaine Johnson) doesn’t like giving up balls, nor do we like to see balls given up on third-and-2 in press coverage for big plays. But he still made some plays there. The corner position still is up in the air on the other side. Be it Lamarcus (Joyner), be it Coty (Sensabaugh), or  E.J. (Gaines). Now E.J.’s first time back, I was really pleased with what we saw out of E.J. He sprained an ankle out here in practice a couple days ago. Didn’t know if he was going to able to go, fought through it, went out and made some really big-time tackles. Just kind of reminiscent of the E.J. we had a couple years ago. That’s encouraging. We’ll continue to increase his reps, not only in practice, but also in the final two preseason games.”

 

(On when a player is out for as long as CB E.J. Gaines was, and what hurdles they have to overcome to get comfortable again)

“It’s the concern that you focus so heavily on rehabbing the injury, that how is the rest of the body going to respond once you get back to full speed. It wasn’t unexpected; you didn’t want it to happen. But he had a hamstring issue that set him back. The ankle sprain last week was just a freak thing that happened in practice. For all intents and purposes, he’s back now. The reps that he got, they’re live reps, they’re contact reps, they’re put your foot in the ground, plant, drive, and go make a tackle. Those are good things to see out of him.”

 

(On the performance of the defense line against the Chiefs)

“They made some big plays, what do you think the first thing we’re going to talk about is, and that’s going to be the defensive offsides. Those things completely overshadow the big plays that you make up front. Now we got some hits, we got some sacks, we got some hurries, some pressures, and made some tackles for losses. But, the defensive offsides just can’t be a part of what you’re doing. We’re glad it happened. We know why it happened. (Chiefs QB) Nick Foles is really good at it, at the hard count. Nick knows, he’s been here, he’s seen these guys. He’s pulled them offsides all through last year, through the OTAs, and training camp. He knows they’ve got a hair trigger, and he took advantage of it. It’s a good learning experience for our guys. We’ve got to emphasize it in practice. It’s a fine line too, because you can stand there and not get off the ball, and not get to the quarterback, or you can anticipate the snap and get a jump on an offensive lineman and get to the quarterback. You’re going have some, but yesterday, in my estimation, it got out of hand and it got frustrating.”

 

(On the big plays made by the defensive front)

“Yeah, they made some big plays, but what do you think the first thing we’re going to talk about is – and that’s going to be the defensive offsides. Those things completely overshadow the big plays that you make up front. Now we got some hits, we got some sacks, got some hurries, some pressures, made some tackles for losses, but the defensive offsides just can’t be a part of what you’re doing. We’re glad it happened, we know why it happened. (Chiefs QB) Nick Foles is really good at it – at the hard count – Nick knows, he’s been here, he’s seen these guys, he’s pulled them offsides all through last year, through the OTAs and training camp. He knows they’ve got a hair trigger and he took advantage of it. It’s a good learning experience for our guys. We’ve got to emphasize it in practice. It’s a fine line, too, because you can stand there and not get off the ball and not get to the quarterback or you can anticipate the snap and get a jump on an offensive lineman and get to the quarterback. You’re going to have some, but yesterday, in my estimation, it got out of hand and got frustrating.”

 

(On if there is an update on WR Bradley Marquez and DL Ethan Westbrooks)

“Ethan’s fine, he’ll be fine. He should practice this week. I suspected a little worse last night, but got really good news with respect to Marquez. Bradley may miss a week of practice, may miss a game, but considering where we were last might when we left the Coliseum, there was some concern, but today was a good day. It’s nice to get good news from the medical staff, the doctors and the trainers. Hopefully he’ll have a chance to come back this week, if not; it’s not going to be an extended period of time.”

 

(On if he will keep the same rotation with the quarterbacks in the third preseason game)

“We’ll talk about it later in the week; we haven’t talked as a staff yet. Traditionally, your 1s play a little bit longer, sometimes in years past; we have gone through the halftime experience and come back out. For some of the guys, that’s a first time thing. If you get used to just coming out and playing a quarter and sitting around, once the season starts, that doesn’t happen – you have to go through the halftime experience. Some of the guys will go through the halftime experience – I don’t know, at this point, how many of them will – but you’re going to see more reps from the starters. Our expectations are that (DE) Rob Quinn is going to play for us this week, which will be good. I know he’s excited about it. There will be some selected guys that we’ll keep their reps down, for whatever reason. You’re going to see them play a little bit longer. From a scheme standpoint, Denver – obviously they’re the world champs, they’re very well-coached, they can rush the passer, they can run the football, they play good defense – we may spend a little extra time giving the guys a chance just to be successful. Most important going into this thing is we want to continue to protect our quarterback.”

 

(On if QB Jared Goff has shown enough to prove that he can be the opening day starter)

“What I’ve been saying since day one is we’re going to be patient with him. (QB) Case (Keenum) is our starter. He’s progressing, he’s getting better. As he said, he’s learning from his mistakes, he doesn’t dwell on them. The fumble in the backfield yesterday was – he switched sides, he had an opportunity to convert the first down, he didn’t, he stayed to the left and then got tripped up. He’ll learns from it. Case is our starter right now and, again, patience is the word – you can put it in quotes – but we’re going to be patient with him.”

 

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(On how DE Quinton Coples is coming along)

“What we’ve done is, Quinton has primarily been a left-side defensive player. Either a stand-up two-point rusher or a defensive end, we’ve moved him inside to defensive tackle. Now, that’s quite an adjustment considering where and how long he’s played. It’s new for him. He had some tough times last week against Dallas, a significant improvement last week on some of the contact drills and I thought he played much better for us last night.”

 

(On if he’s putting WR Pharoh Cooper on punt returner just to test things out or if he’s looking at him as the guy to return punts)

“(WR) Tavon’s (Austin) going to return punts for us. Tavon has done it before and he doesn’t necessarily need to do it. We also need to have a backup, at times, we may have two back there to create some problems. We need to be comfortable with the backup returner, so that’s why we’ve given him some reps there. Very impressed with his decision-making, his suddenness and he commits – when he commits he goes. He’s done it in college; he’s done the kickoff thing. I think we have one of the better kickoff returners over the last few years in the league, and that’s (RB) Benny (Cunningham). It’s nice to have a backup to go to. That’s why he’s getting those reps.”

 

(On how many more improvements he’s seen from the first team offensive line)

“They’re playing better. From Week 1, I thought (T) Greg (Robinson) played well again last night. They’re playing better together. If you pay attention in the second half, we’ve got guys all over the place. We’ve got Eric Kush playing center, then he’s playing left guard, (T) Andrew Donnal is playing right tackle, right guard. We’re moving people around just so we can be comfortable and they can have the reps. That basically is the case with, not necessarily the starters, but the backups. We need to give them reps, because as we go to the regular season, you have a limited number of players and you might have two or three backup offensive linemen. So if somebody goes down, someone needs to be prepared to play. The starting line, right now, I think, has done a pretty good job. You’ve got some big, solid, talented defensive players on that (Chiefs) defense. I thought (C) Tim (Barnes) did a nice job on (Chiefs DT Dontari Poe) holding his own, that’s a big man, a big run-stopper and he got on  edges a couple times and (RB) Todd (Gurley) got some creases.”

 

(On how LB Alec Ogletree did at MLB and how the wide receiver group is progressing)

“First off, I thought Alec played well, he made plays. He understood, he probably got off on his own and studied that offense because we didn’t do a lot with him in preparation for them. He had a good feel of what was going on. I thought he was a little frustrated at not being able to get off the field because his job, as the middle linebacker and the leader of this defense, is to get on and off the field and get the ball back for the offense. I think he was a little frustrated there, but he’s progressing, he’s doing well. And the receivers, you saw production out of (WR) Kenny (Britt), Kenny made some big plays for us. ‘Coop’ (Pharoh Cooper) had the big catch for the touchdown. Tavon didn’t get much, just because the way the game went, we didn’t have snaps and we took him out of the game. (WR) Brian (Quick) needs to catch the football, your receivers have to catch it, not drop it. He’s had too many drops, so he’s going to have to focus on that. And then the younger guys, we just didn’t get a whole lot of reps with them just because of the number of snaps. We’re seeing progression and improvement outside on the practice field.”

 

(On if he puts any stock into guys making plays to win the game even though it’s a preseason game)
“Yeah, a lot has to do with – and I’ll flip over to special teams – because we have young guys on the sideline that realize how important it is and they’re asking to go in. they want to go in and make a play even though they’re tired. They want to win the matchup. And then, of course, there are things that take place in the end of games, from a game management standpoint, that you just can’t predict – and they’re fun, that’s what makes the preseason fun, because it’s a learning experience for all of us, me included. When you’ve got guys like (RB) Malcolm (Brown) that are just out there making plays and keeping drives alive, it’s fun to watch. Malcolm’s night last night out of the backfield was great. There’s a sense of urgency, it’s different, the roles will become reversed during the regular season because, right now, the starters and the veterans are rooting for the young guys. The young guys are going to be on the sideline now rooting for the starters (in the regular season).”

 

(On if he’s satisfied with the reps that Todd Gurley is getting and if he’ll increase them for the upcoming games)

“We’ll talk about that later in the week, but I was more than satisfied with his drive. That first drive was great, those were his first live reps since Week 15 last year, but he’s getting them on the practice field. There’s a play, it was a Kenny Britt play, Todd had a check-down to the right of our offense, Kenny Britt makes the catch on the short sideline route and runs down the field, Todd is one of the first guys that shows up when Kenny is tackled out of bounds. He’s in great shape, he’s running, he’s enthusiastic. I can understand him wanting to play more, but we’re going to be smart about the rest of the preseason with him.”

 

(On what Malcolm Brown is doing well and what the guys up front are doing well to lead to his success)

“The group of offensive linemen that he’s running behind are talented and they’re pushing piles, they understand the schemes and he’s getting a crease. When he doesn’t get a crease, he creates space. One of the ways you evaluate young running backs – and all running backs, for that matter – is the yards after contact, we call them the violent yards. What happens after the first hit? You can see what’s happening with him, extending plays. You turn around and look and it’s second-and-one or it’s a first down, he’s running, breaking tackles, he’s got great balance, he’s a heavy runner. It’s not something that we didn’t expect, we saw a little bit out of him last year in the preseason. He’s worked hard and he’s deserving of the success that he’s had.”

 

(On if there’s anything he can do specifically to address the penalty situation from last night and if DB Lamarcus Joyner’s ejection was a result of a point of emphasis for the officials or was it a situation where he would have been ejected regardless)

“The penalties, yeah, we’re going to address them with the team tomorrow, each and every one of them. The defensive offsides, they’re obvious – you go when that little brown thing moves, you don’t go before that. We’ve got these penalties scattered throughout the game, some of them shouldn’t have been called, there were a few more that weren’t called that should have been called. It’s technique-type things that we have to improve upon. Speaking of Lamarcus, the ball went incomplete, he got pushed in the back, he turned around and then he got kind of punched in the face and then he retaliated and then there was a retaliation and they threw them both out. All I saw was the push in the back and then the Kansas City player hit him in the facemask and that’s when the tape goes off, so there’s nothing there. I’m okay with it because it is a point of emphasis, considering some of the unfortunate things that have happened in regular season games and in the Super Bowl two years ago. There’s no place for that stuff, sportsmanship is an issue and the league is addressing it. Hopefully everybody on our squad will learn from that, you just have to walk away.”

 

(On what he saw on Kansas City WR Jeremy Maclin’s touchdown reception)

“It was a good throw and good catch. Are you asking what happened specifically in the coverage?”

 

(On if there was a mix-up in zone coverage)

“When you get to know me, I’m never going to go there. They made the play, we didn’t.”

 

(On if he expects WR Nelson Spruce to practice this week)

“He’ll be out there, he’s got a chance to do some running, but I don’t think he’s going to practice this week.”

 

Los Angeles Rams Media Release 08/21/2016

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