As the Rams prepare for their first preseason game, coaches and coordinators are pushing their young players to step up.
Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris recently had a talk with the defensive linemen, asking them who will be the player among them at will be talked about other than Aaron Donald.
“I’m getting tired of you guys writing about [Donald’s] greatness and so should they … talk about them and start to bring some of those names up,” Morris said. “The only way you do that is to go out there and play … you can’t tell people you’re going to be that guy but you can go out there and show us every day in practice.”
Wide receiver Van Jefferson returns to action after recovering from a knee injury. He is happy to be able to participate in training camp and has been enjoying playing alongside the likes of wideouts Demarcus Robinson and Puka Nacua. Jefferson noted how having them two is “a great help.”
“[Robinson] went to Florida so we kind of knew each other coming in but [Nacua] is doing a great job, he’s gonna be a talented player, a great player in this league,” Jefferson said. “It’s fun working with him, [Robinson] too, he’s coming in, he’s made a lot of plays and I’m excited to have him here.”
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp sustained a hamstring injury and his status is day-to-day. His injury has not impacted the urgency of the wideouts, according to Jefferson.
“We know how valuable [Kupp] is to this team and how valuable he is to this whole offense,” he said. “He’s gonna take his time and get back when he’s ready and now, we’re just holding it down for him until he gets back.”
Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur wants Jefferson to be the best he can be for the season and has confidence in his leadership style.
“You got to be your own personality and a leader within your own personality,” LaFleur said. “[Jefferson] is a professional, he has the respect of this locker room, he has the respect of the receivers, the coaches, this organization.”
Rookie offensive lineman Steve Avila has gone against Donald throughout training camp.
“If you’re made of the right stuff like [Avila] is, then you embrace that competition everyday,” LaFleur said. “We’re playing it real, [Donald] is on the left side, we’re sliding to the left … so we’re playing it real with him but at the same time, when you are matched up one-on-one, don’t blink, you gotta go.”
Early in training camp, head coach Sean McVay had been frustrated with the performance of the team. The Rams has since improved; Morris noted that in those moments, it is the job of the players and coaches to respond.
“It’s great to get that authentic juice from your leader,” Morris said. “When he gave us those things, I think you get a chance to go in and correct what he didn’t like, get some of those things better, get ready to coach those guys up, come out and have a good day.”