OXNARD – Outside of the normal training camp stuff, the joint practice by the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys was nothing out of the ordinary. Out of the ordinary means if you were a fan who attended the joint session and hoped to see something highlight-reel stuff going on from both teams, it might have been quite a disappointment.
You wouldn’t know it by the many people who showed up to the Cowboys’ training practice facility to support their ballclub. Of course, Rams fans, shouting sporadically “Rams House!” during the two-hour practice, were also in the mix.
There was no extra rah-rah stuff to take away from the practice other than both teams got work in trying to better each aspect of their teams. When you look at it, except for the fact that you had two teams wearing different uniforms, the Rams-Cowboys Saturday afternoon dance was conducted much like a regular practice would be held.
Special teams did their thing. There was the typical 7-on-7 offense/defense drills. Lineman practiced their footwork and got after each other. Skilled players went about their business of catching passes and executing routine run drills.
Outside of one brief skirmish and a couple of near scuffles on the field, the Rams and Cowboys were in the framework of just putting in the work they needed to do to get ready for the regular season. The Rams began that quest with a preseason game Aug. 14 against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
“I thought the teams did a good job,” McVay said. “Gathered ourselves, got our composure together quickly when there was a little scuffle, which is part of the game. But I like the fact that kind of gathered ourselves and ended up getting in a bunch of good work.
“I’m going to go back and look at this film,” McVay continued. “I was kind of bouncing around between both fields. It’s a little bit different than the way we’ve done it in years past where it was kind of everything was scripted, but that was by design and I thought both teams got what they were looking for.”
In regards to the first noted scuffle of the day, which involved Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald and the Cowboys’ Connor Williams, McVay said the flare-up didn’t stop the flow of what the two teams wanted to accomplish with the jointly held practice.
“I didn’t think it affected our ability to get the work in that we wanted and that was the goal for today,” McVay said.
A couple of quick takeaways from the joint practice was Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, who missed much of the 2020 NFL season because of a nasty injury, was held out of the usual training camp drills, although he suited up and watched his backups work and go up against the Rams defense.
Besides dressing up, about as much work that Prescott did for the afternoon was shadowing Cowboys receivers as a fake defensive back. Sitting out and watching others do their part was not something that Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford did.
Stafford worked with the the Rams first-team offense, going through the grind of 7-on-7 drills and matching wits against the Dallas defense in game simulation scenarios. One throw in particular that Stafford threw got a lot of buzz.
Like he has done already against his own defense, Stafford threw a perfect deep ball to wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who got behind Dallas defenders.
If this was a real game the pass would have gone for a touchdown. But it wasn’t. It was just a nice play made in practice. However, the Stafford to Jackson hookups could be something special this season. Judging by Stafford’s still very lively arm and Jackson’s legendary speed, the Rams offense could be providing some real fireworks in the team’s 17 regular season games.
“It was good to see,” McVay said. “It was an unbelievable throw across his body. Those are things you guys have seen consistently, want to continue to build off of that. But it’s a good balance, one being efficient and explosive. I thought that was a great example of creating explosive. It’s a big-time throw back across the grain.”
McVay liked what he saw from his players in the practice against the Cowboys. But the team is still a ways off from where the Rams needs be when they open the regular season on Sept. 12 at home against the Chicago Bears, he said.
“We still have a long ways until Sept. 12,” McVay remarked. “I thought that this was a step in the right direction. And really, for us as coaches, you get a lot of good film to be able to learn off of.”