By Charean Williams
Pro Football Writers of America
FLOWERY BRANCH, Georgia – The Rams practiced outside on the grass fields at the Falcons’ training facility Thursday. They started the work day under sunny skies and 51 degrees.
“It really was [the plan to go outside],” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “We were flexible with it, but I think just having the ability to go outside and get on this surface, we felt like it was going to be a little bit better on our bodies, and the weather allowed us to do that, so it was a great day.”
The Rams started with a walk-through before stretching and then a one-hour, 10-minute practice. The sun set and the temperature dropped to 47 degrees by the time the Rams finished at 6:06 p.m.
“Yeah, it went down quick,” McVay said. “That was why we were trying to stay on a tight schedule. We got a lot of good work in, a lot of things we can coach off of. The main thing was I thought the guys came out and competed the right way and gave us a chance to get better today.”
The Rams had a compete period with the first-team offense against the first-team defense to start before both units got work against the scout team. The Rams had a special teams period in the middle.
“We definitely got everything done we wanted to,” McVay said. “Thursdays really have been our big work day, and we got a lot of work in, and because of where we are with the game plan, that enabled us to go more situationally in the framework of a series as opposed to just practicing third down and red zone all in one sequence. You do it like a move-the-ball, and I thought that was good because that’s how you play a game, and it forced our players to think a little bit more than we’re accustomed to.”
McVay called it a spirited practice.
“It was a good way to start out competing,” McVay said. “We want to come out fast, and that’s going to be important in this game, and that’s what today represented.”
The Rams practiced in jerseys, sweats (with a few brave souls wearing shorts) and helmets. They were in pads once last week.
“We went last Thursday [in pads],” McVay said. “But the way that our guys have done it, we say, ‘OK, we come in and we go to work,’ and these guys know how to practice without pads on and still get as much as we want. The main reason sometimes we end up wearing pads is just because it prevents some of the shoulder injuries and collisions. But peaking at the right time, we gave them off the pads, and we still got a bunch of good work in today.”
Kicker Greg Zuerlein (left foot) and safety Blake Countess (foot) both were limited Thursday. Zuerlein did not kick. He will kick again Friday.
“The plan all along has been for [Zuerlein to kick] tomorrow,” McVay said. “We’re right on track. He’ll kick tomorrow.
“I talked to him today. He’s feeling good. That’s kind of been the plan all along, so we’re right on track where we want to be.”
Countess was upgraded after being listed as out of the team’s walk-through Wednesday. He appears on schedule to play Sunday.
“I think he’s going to be good,” McVay said. “I’ll be interested to see how his foot felt when I talk to him when we go inside. But for him to get out here and get some movement, again, that was kind of on par with the course as far as how we anticipated this thing going when he ended up hurting that foot a couple of weeks ago.”