5 Heavy Observations After Watching First Rams Training Camp

Rams

Getty Terrell Burgess (No. 26), Decobie Durant (No. 14) and Derion Kendrick (No. 6) all celebrate a defensive takeaway on July 29, 2022 in Irvine.

History was made for Heavy on Rams during the weekend of July 29.

For the first time in Heavy’s NFL coverage history, the Los Angeles Rams allowed a Heavy NFL writer to be credentialed for training camp. Definitely a unique and stellar experience on my end. And it definitely won’t be my last!

Seeing the fan energy from the family zone and the crowd stretching to nearly 15,000 attendees at UC Irvine’s Crawford Field was quite the experience, with my phone now overloaded on pictures and some video. But this column won’t be about my personal experiences. I’m instead going to focus on what I saw from the Super Bowl champions and detail five things I observed in my first NFL training camp.


5) Two Rams Wideouts Look Vastly Changed for Camp

Saw firsthand a newer version of two Ram wideouts — both of whom weren’t dominant in the stat sheet last season due to season-ending injuries. But they look far different physique wise this season.

They are Jacob Harris and Tutu Atwell.

The former, drafted in the fourth round out of UCF, is making his transition out of tight end and into a full-time role out wide. He delivered this toe balancing act during “Back Together Saturday” on July 30:

The leaner Harris, now at 6-foot-5, 211-pounds per the Rams website after entering the league nearly weighing at 225, is making his comeback from his ACL tear. Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic first reported on Thursday, July 28 that the towering and fast Harris is moving into a wideout role — which could create more mismatches and draw more one-on-ones with his reported 4.39 40-yard dash time.

Atwell, meanwhile, may still have his diminutive 5-foot-9 frame, but I did notice how much more cut he is this season. He’s up to a more chiseled 165-pounds. He’s coming back from a shoulder injury that placed him on IR. Matthew Stafford, though, doesn’t believe these wideouts and fellow 2021 class member Ben Skowronek have changed work ethic wise.

“Those guys have done a great job,” Stafford said. “The day they got here, they all put their head down and got to work. They all kind of had to deal with some things injury wise the first year they tried to work through. And I can say they’ve done a great job of that. The fact they’re all out here running around and playing again at this point in training camp is a testament to their work ethic.”


4) Rams Have Some Young Scrappers at DB

If you love defensive back play and need a young group to monitor, it’s the 2022 group coming into the Rams.

Derion Kendrick got physical on his pass breakup of the much larger Tyler Higbee on Saturday. Decobie Durant snatched the ball in front of Cooper Kupp once on a diving attempt, then let the ball fall to his hands for another pick on Friday. Head coach Sean McVay has been left impressed with both.

“I thought they were great. Those were really competitive plays,” McVay said Friday about Durant. “One down the field when we were in man coverage then the other one where he was kind of slipping underneath on a seam as he’s carrying on an outside-in. He’s got great football skills.”

He described both rookies as guys with “great play swagger.” Durant has gotten reps at the “star” position All-Pro Jalen Ramsey plays, McVay said. Kendrick has received his share of reps with Robert Rochell at the CB2 spot vacated by Darious Williams. Both are also receiving some teaching from Ramsey. You could be looking at some early action from these guys…and maybe some future starts down the road.


3)’A-Rob’ Already Winning Over the “Rams House”

Ram fans got the early sample of what Allen Robinson is capable of.

There was the diving scoop he delivered near the sidelines. Then there was the red zone touchdown he scored in traffic. It’s all a prelude of what’s to come when “A-Rob” hits the field. And both came from the arm of Stafford.

“I just kind of try to throw the ball to whatever the coverage dictates. And they were giving us some one-on-one opportunities. He did a great job of winning those opportunities,” Stafford said. “So far from what I’ve seen is just about everything (from him), which is a positive for us.”


2)Aaron Donald’s Work Ethic Still Front & Center

Heard countless of stories of how hard Donald works especially during practices. Finally saw it myself.

In both days, he was noticeably the first Ram to take the field for camp. He was then one of the last to leave. And in between, he refuses to go at a slow speed even when it comes to simple drills like this one:

Even with his record-breaking contract, Donald is still that hard hat and helmet type that many have described him as.


1) Sean McVay Has a Unique Sense of Humor, Plus Comfort With the L.A. Media

To be honest, for a head coach to drop an expletive and crack a joke with a throng of reporters surrounding him, it goes to show where McVay’s comfort level is with the L.A. media.

He’s comfortable and used to them…plus knows how to connect with reporters.

It could also be being a Super Bowl champion allowing him to be more loose. But overall, it was a great experience for someone from Heavy to be there.

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