Rams hold late practice to prep body clocks for Monday night
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The sun had nearly set over the Ventura County hills by the time the Los Angeles Rams left their practice fields Thursday night, and it was dark outside when they finally left the locker room.
With a Monday night road opener coming up, coach Sean McVay is putting his Rams on a one-week schedule of late arrivals and later practices. He's hoping the Rams will be fully awake when they hit the Coliseum field in Oakland.
"The circadian rhythm is what I've learned," McVay said with a smile.
As he showed in keeping nearly his entire first-team offense out for the entire preseason, McVay doesn't hesitate to try anything to get an edge for his Rams, who welcome the opportunity to begin a season of enormous expectations under a national television spotlight. The late kickoff could keep his players on the field until an hour past their normal bedtimes, so he switched up the schedule.
"I think you continue to learn ... how the body just gets acclimated and adjusts to peaking at the right time when you are kicking off at 7:20," McVay said. "Typically, you're practicing earlier in the day for when you're kicking off at 1 o'clock out here. There's just a different element of what your natural body rhythm goes through."
McVay's players clearly think he has earned the right to be trusted after he engineered Los Angeles' stunning turnaround in his debut season. The Rams' offense hasn't showed any concern about taking its first snap together in a game that counts after McVay declined to play the starters in four preseason games.
They can even laugh about it: When Aaron Donald was asked about his readiness after holding out through the entire preseason, the Defensive Player of the Year replied: "Well, nobody really played in a preseason game this year. It ain't just me. It's everybody."
McVay realizes many coaches disagree with the Rams' approach to this preseason. Jared Goff likely could have used a few live series to work on his timing with new receiver Brandin Cooks, and the offensive line might have benefited from a few snaps with Austin Blythe, the probable replacement for suspended right guard Jamon Brown in the first two games.
McVay simply didn't want to tempt injury in games that don't count.
"It might not be for everybody," McVay said. "In an ideal world, you would like to be able to have (Goff) get that experience. But at the risk for what we thought could potentially occur, that was a decision that we made, and I totally respect and understand that people might disagree with that.
"The results are going to predicate what that final (success of the decision) is, and I'm OK with those consequences, knowing that you've got to take ownership of your decisions."
NOTES: Inside linebacker Mark Barron was the only Rams player who didn't practice. His ankle injury still hasn't healed, and the veteran realizes he might not be ready to play Monday. "It's most definitely frustrating, but we kind of expected it coming off the injuries that I had," Barron said. "You've always got to be careful with it. We're just taking it day by day." If Barron can't play, he's confident in newcomer Ramik Wilson's ability to fill in. ... The Rams re-signed safety Isaiah Johnson one day after waiving him. The third-year pro has moved between the practice squad and the 53-man roster for the past two seasons, playing in four games. Johnson is the 54th player on the roster for the Rams, who have a roster exception for Donald. ... Goff, Todd Gurley, Andrew Whitworth, Michael Brockers, Aqib Talib and punter Johnny Hekker were named team captains.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL