Jeff Fisher impressed with Rams’ rookies

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The Los Angeles Rams on Saturday ran their second practice with their rookies in Oxnard as part of their minicamp, basically an orientation, and head coach Jeff Fisher said he’s “just really impressed with the whole group.”

Among the rookies on the field were No. 1 overall pick quarterback Jared Goff, No. 117 pick wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, No. 190 pick linebacker Josh Forrest, and undrafted free agent running back Aaron Green.

A lot has been accomplished in two days, from offense to defense to special teams, Fisher said.

“We’re monitoring their speed and explosive movements and things like that, particularly because they are a little bit behind the veterans,” Fisher said. “They adjusted, they did a nice job.”

The rookies were introduced to the Rams weight room philosophy on Friday, had their first lift, went into more meetings on Saturday night and got Sunday off. As the rookies move into the offseason program, they will be kept separate from the veterans for another week or so, Fisher said, to ensure they get caught up to that conditioning level.

Keeping the rookies separate for now, and having them observe the veterans for a 90-minute session on Monday, should help the eventual mingling to be less of a shock, Fisher said,

Jared Goff and his mother Nancy on draft night. (Claudia Gestro)
Jared Goff and his mother Nancy on draft night.
(Claudia Gestro)

“You’re going to see a little of this,” he said, pounding his chest, “Out of the vets because they are going to show off a little bit. So it works out good – you get more out of the vets, the ‘rooks’ get to see it. Once we get to OTAs (in June), everything will be good.”

A big adjustment the rookies have had to make the past two days is getting used to the Rams’ playbook and terminology. Coaches have been teaching them by relating their terminology to what the rookies have learned in the past.

Goff on Friday likened it to going into Spanish class and being expected to become fluent in the language, but that, “the way they’re teaching it, they’re making it easy for me.”

Rookies have been moving at half speed, which has been trying for some of the players but helping the coaches evaluate details like their footwork, steps, if they’re dropping their hips, and their mental approach to the game.

It’s also unfair to have rookies come out at full speed and risk soft tissue injuries, then missing OTAs and getting behind at camp, Fisher added.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s worked out for us because ideally what you want to have is you want to have a healthy roster when you start training camp,” Fisher said.

Goff at times showed a little frustration running half-speed routes, Fisher said, because he’s been setting the back foot and getting ready to go and the timing is off.

“So, if you see balls hit the ground or things like that, it’s all because we’re encouraging the skill players not to run full speed,” Fisher said. “(Goff’s) doing a great job of picking up our offense.”

As Goff is being fed information, he’s shown to be a guy that understands priorities and knows how to budget his time. Fisher said he passed by Goff on Friday night and he was leaving the meeting room at 10 p.m.

“He’s handled it without any problem,” Fisher said. “He’s got that internal, competitive drive that you don’t see. He doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. He’s going to make sure that everything’s right.”

Other rookies are looking good too.

Coaches were impressed when the tight ends walked off the bus, and receivers too have seemed “competitive, very skilled,” Fisher said.

“Pharoh (Cooper) is what we thought he was, based on a couple days, but he’s not full speed yet,” the head coach said.

Forrest, the lone defensive player in the Rams’ offense-heavy draft last week, is big, long, athletic and moved well at half speed, Fisher said.

“He’s a good-looking physical specimen. He looks good,” Fisher said. “He’s got a lot of work to do, like the rest of them do catching up before we cut them loose. But he’s got some movement skills.”

Running back Green, an undrafted free agent from Texas Christian University who will be competing with Malcolm Brown, has shown to be a very productive college player, Fisher said.

The head coach said Green “had a lot of yards and a lot of big plays, he can catch and he’s picking things up. It will be one of those situations that comes down to the end, in all likelihood.”

The NFL is hosting a collective rookie orientation, but the Rams will continue with their program next week that includes meetings on financial planning, life skills, social media and interacting with the media.

“This has a chance to be a little bit more intimate. I think it has a chance, from the standpoint of the guys being able to absorb more information, I think it may work out better,” Fisher said. “Plus, we can also participate in them.”

About half a dozen rookies had to leave on Sunday to complete their college exams, including Goff. Most will be back next weekend.

Those staying for the offseason program will introduce themselves to the veterans at the team meeting on Monday.

“That’s always amusing,” Fisher said.

Top photo By Tim Forkes:
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher (center) between Aaron Donald (Left) and Johnny Hekker (Right).