Rams Training Camp: The youth movement

IRVINE (News4usonline) – Every so often an NFL team goes through the stages of having to purge its roster of the old and bring in the new. That’s where the Los Angeles Rams are at these days. Coming off a 5-12 season during the 2022 season, the team that the Rams will field against the Seattle Seahawks in their season-opener is going to look a lot different than last season. 

Linebacker Bobby Wagner? Gone. Ernest Jones is now the man in the middle. Wide receiver Allen Robinson II? He’s on to the next team. Tutu Atwell seems primed and ready to step in and have a breakout season. What happened to edge rusher Leonard Floyd? Out the door. Rookie outside linebacker Byron Young has a chance to have an instant impact on the Rams’ defense.

Los Angeles Rams rookie quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) looks for an open receiver during the second day of training camp on the campus of UC Irvine on July 27, 2023. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

What about star cornerback Jalen Ramsey? Second-year baller Cobie Durant will now step into Ramsey’s shoes. That’s the way it is in the NFL. Here for a moment, gone in the next. Two years removed from their Super Bowl LVI win against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Rams have done a complete overall to their roster.   

The Rams have swapped known talent to uncertain and eager youngsters trying to prove to themselves and their coaches that they have what it takes to play at the highest level. For all the inexperience that the Rams have with their young players, youthful energy is always a welcomed sight. 

Regardless of the Rams putting together a roster with so many players that fans may not recognize, the Rams coaches embrace this dynamic with their own zeal to help these players develop into solid NFL players. 

Los Angeles Rams running back Ronnie Rivers (30) tries to go the distance on the second day of training camp on July 27, 2023. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

“The authentic energy and enthusiasm is what you enjoy,” Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said after the team’s second day of training camp at UC Irvine. “I mean, every knockdown pass is like we won a Super Bowl. That’s the stuff that you love. Every time they get a chance to compete out there with (WR Cooper) ‘Coop’ (Kupp) and him catching balls and it’s just like, man, we were that close, and you feel good about it, but that energy is what you really love. 

“I enjoy it just so much because I get a chance to watch the guys go out there and have fun and then really go coach and really go detail it up in the classroom. It’s so funny that I’m becoming this old coach that’s got to be this nice soul in the classroom when I’m talking to them that it’s just… it’s kind of for me, it’s nice and it’s a formidable way to go about your day. I really enjoy those moments.”. 

Like Morris, Rams offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur is enjoying the young players he has been assigned to work with. 

They’re out there having fun and competing. It was cool, right before practice I went up to (TE) Higs (Tyler Higbee), however old he is, I don’t know 30? But you’d think he’s going on like 22 years old. He has so much energy and he looks great,” LaFleur said. He always has looked great, but I was joking with him that it’s pretty cool to have this influx of young players. You can just see the excitement.” 

“These guys on both sides of the ball, they’re fighting for their lives, they’re fighting for their jobs,” LaFleur continued. “So just having that youth, having that energy, seeing them in meetings every day is a big install so you know some guys have questions that they may be a little afraid to ask. There’s going to be mistakes, and then you just grow from those mistakes. Never making that same mistake twice is what we like to say, but it’s been cool. It’s just been a lot of energy.”

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) hauls in this pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford on the second day of training camp at UC Irvine. Kupp gets by cornerback Cobie Durant (14) on the play on July 27, 2023. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Veteran wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who has made his way back after seeing his 2022 season cut short due to a high-ankle sprain injury, likes the vibe around the team, even though he has had to go through and introduce himself to his new teammates.    

“You come back during OTAs and half the team’s brand-new learning people’s faces again, just trying to get names and all that stuff,” Kupp said. “But man, it’s great to be out here, great energy. These young guys bring a lot of juice. I don’t know much of their references (laughter), but they bring some juice.”