Rams get ready for Chiefs and Nick Foles

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The Los Angeles Rams are well into their third week of Training Camp. The HBO/NFL Films crews have been in Irvine the entire time and now the team’s coaches are beginning to choose who is leaving camp. There have been some standout performances by young rookies, especially wide receiver Nelson Spruce, who was one of the catalysts for the win against the Dallas Cowboys.

Rams Fans5Quarterback Sean Mannion was another key reason the Rams went on a comeback run in the second half, catching the Cowboys and then winning the game.

Defensively the team let some plays get past them, but the defense stiffened to keep the Cowboys from scoring in the second half. And then there was the opening kickoff return by Lucky Whitehead that scored a touchdown for the Cowboys in the opening seconds of the game.

These were some of the things the Rams focused on Monday when the team returned to UC-Irvine for Training Camp.

Right now the Rams have seven tight ends in camp and competition for a spot is fierce. We don’t yet know how many tight ends coach Jeff Fisher will carry on the team, but it’s likely at least three of them will eventually be cut. During his press conference on Thursday, our reporter Claudia Gestro asked Fisher to comment on that competition for the tight end position. Fisher said, “Well obviously Lance (Reddick) is our guy and Corey (Harkey) is an established veteran and then we have the two draft choices that are really doing a good job.”

Jeff Fisher
Jeff Fisher

He was speaking of Tyler Higbee and Temarrick Hemingway. Higbee has been out, suffering from “flue-like” symptoms,but Hemingway, according to Fisher, “Is coming along fast.” He has been slowed down by injury, but Fisher said they would be trying him out on special teams. And the other tight ends are competing, making use of their playing time in practice.

In the game coming up on Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs, the coach said Case Keenum would get the start. “Give him a couple series and see how that works. Our plan is to get Jared (Goff) in, with the ‘ones’ (first team) for a series or two and see how that goes and let Jared play into the third quarter and see how that goes. And Sean (Mannion) will finish up.”

Fisher said it was important to get Goff on the field in a game with the starters. He’s been working with the them in practice and has impressed the coaches. But as anyone in camp has observed, Keenum is the better QB right now. Mannion might also be better prepared to take over the huddle in a game.

Fan favorite Nelson Spruce has a sprained knee so he will not participate in practice or play on Saturday. Offensive tackle Isaiah Battle will not play Saturday. He had an underwhelming rookie year in 2015, starting the season on the practice squad. There’s a good chance he will make the team, but right now there are at least two other offensive linemen that could get a roster spot before Battle. The young second year player really needs to prove himself to the coaches.

Robert Quinn
Robert Quinn

Robert Quinn isn’t likely to play. He went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to watch his sister, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, compete in the Olympics. A student at the University of Kentucky, Jasmine was in the 100-meter hurdles semi-finals when she stumbled over the last hurdles and was eliminated from the event. She is only 19 years old and will undoubtedly be back for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Robert Quinn is back in camp, but he was coming off a surgery before going to Rio, plus Fisher doesn’t want to take any chances with one of the defense’s most important leaders. Quinn is a two-time pro bowl player.

Running back Todd Gurley spoke to the press on Thursday, saying he was always ready to play. It was the coaches’ decision not to play Gurley last Saturday against the Cowboys, but he is most likely going to get some playing time against the Chiefs. He said he needed to get a lot of reps out of camp and the exhibition games. “Practice is a lot different from a game,” Gurley said. He cited that kickoff return touch down by the Cowboys as a reason they practice during training camp.

“It’s always good to go in there (the game) and get some reps,” Gurley stated.

Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia, along with manager Joe Girardi and a few other Yankees, were visiting the Rams training camp Thursday. Gurley was asked if he had seen Sabathia. “I knew I wasn’t tripping. I swear I was like, ‘Man, that is CC,’ and everybody looked at me like I was crazy.”

Rookie quarterback Jared Goff
Rookie quarterback Jared Goff

Gurley is a baseball fan, specifically the Baltimore Orioles, who are in a hot race with the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox for the American League East Division.

The Rams defense won’t see K.C running back Jamaal Charles on Saturday, but Goff will see an old friend and former rival, QB Kevin Hogan, who played across the San Francisco Bay at Stanford. Hogan and Goff (Cal) faced each several times while they were in college and Stanford won every time.

Also scheduled to get some reps with the Chiefs on Saturday: Nick Foles, former Rams quarterback who was benched last season and then released before this year’s training camp.

The Chiefs tend to have very vocal fans that seem to be at every stadium they play away from home. The L.A. Coliseum can expect the same on Saturday.

Photos by Claudia Gestro
Top photo: running back Todd Gurley