OTAs a good first step for the Rams

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – A nice surprise for Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and his ballclub during the team’s first organized team activities (OTAs) practice open to the media was having Stetson Bennett back on the football field throwing passes. 

After being drafted by the Rams in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft,  Bennett, a two-time national champion from the University of Georgia, missed the entire season last year. 

Bennett, starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Dresser Winn were on the field at the team’s practice facility, doing what signal-callers do: and that is to throw passes. McVay would not go into detail about Bennett’s extended absence. 

Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks Dresser Winn (left) and Stetson Bennett (13) go through passing drills during the team’s organized team activities practice on May 21, 2024. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

 However, he likes what he sees so far from the second-year quarterback.    

“Once we got through the season…He’s done a great job. He’s got a good look in his eye,” McVay said. “I really appreciate the way that he’s come to work. He’s been really attentive in the meetings. I think (Quarterbacks Coach) Dave Ragone has done a great job with the quarterbacks as a whole. His command, his ability to communicate, and Stetson’s had a couple good days and it’s been good having him out here.”

Curiosity about the makeup of the team’s quarterback room doesn’t stop at Bennett. Talk of Stafford and his contract status has been all over the place. McVay made it clear that he’s not divulging anything, at least for now, to that situation. 

“Out of respect for the situation, we’ll just keep it in-house. What I am appreciative of is that he’s here leading the way and it’s been a good couple days for him,” McVay said. 

McVay, however, was eager to talk about the level of work his team has put in and the enthusiasm players have brought to the practice field, he said. 

“First of all, it’s been a good first couple days,” McVay said. “Guys are coming out here working really hard. I’ve been really pleased with just the teaching progression from our coaches. A lot of stuff that we can learn, but I’ve really loved the energy. It’s been a real positive.” 

McVay is optimistic about his new rookie class. In 2023, McVay and the Rams hit a mini-lottery with 14 draft picks. This year, the Rams drafted 10 players. LA’s youth and rebuild project over the last two seasons has given McVay and the Rams a core infrastructure that could dominate the NFC West for years to come, even with the retirement of Aaron Donald. 

Los Angeles Rams running backs go through drills during the team’s organized activities (OTAs) at the club’s practice facility in Thousand Oaks, California, on May 21, 2024. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Kobie Turner and Bryron Young showed their mettle last season and are primed for breakout seasons on the defensive front. Throw in first-round draft pick Jared Verse, and the Rams’ defensive line looks stout again. On the other side of the ball, wide receiver Puka Nacua became a dominant force as a first-year player.

This year’s Rams rookie class, which includes Verse and former Michigan running back Blake Corum, provides McVay and the team with depth and potential starters. OTAs are just a step for the rookies to get acclimated to how McVay and the Rams do things. So far, so good.     

“They’ve done great,” McVay remarked. “It’s still really early. It’s just two days. We had them last week where they were partaking in a lot of the drills. You’re still limited in what you can do in phase two, but through the first two days of the OTAs, you felt their presence. It’s a lot of the things that we had hoped.” 

“It still is very far from real football when you don’t have the pads on. There are certain restrictions in terms of just some of the ways that we can compete, some of the regulations on the schemes that we would activate really on both sides of the football, but within the framework of what they can control, I’ve been really pleased with their group as a whole,” McVay added. 

McVay was enthused by what he saw overall from his team.   

“Every single day is a learning opportunity. They did bring the energy. There are always things that we can continue to clean up on both sides of the football. Started working on some of the different things as it relates to the new kickoff rule, both that phase and the kickoff return and so just taking it a day at a time but I’ve really loved the way this group has worked.”

McVay and the Rams will not be holding training camp at UC Irvine this year. Instead, the Rams will head over to Loyola Marymount University later this summer for training camp.

“Couldn’t say enough good things about UC Irvine and then looking forward to being at Loyola Marymount,” said McVay.     

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