Los Angeles Rams: The Ultimate 2021 Rams Training Camp Guide

by Blaine Grisak
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The Los Angeles Rams rookies reported to training camp on Sunday as now we are full speed head towards the 2021 season. Veterans will report on Tuesday and then it will be full steam ahead. The team will have their final practice on August 10 before the first preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

There will be a lot to watch throughout Rams training camp. Here’s your ultimate 2021 Los Angeles Rams training camp guide.

Open Practices

The Los Angeles Rams will have 10 open practices. They are as follows:

  • Wednesday, July 28: Training camp kickoff
  • Thursday, July 29
  • Friday, July 30: Season ticket member appreciation day
  • Saturday, July 31: Family Day and NFL’s “Back Together Saturday”
  • Monday, Aug. 2
  • Tuesday, Aug. 3: Free junior cheerleading clinic
  • Wednesday, Aug. 4: Youth Sports Day
  • Friday, Aug. 6: Vamos Rams Day
  • Monday, Aug. 9: Legends Day
  • Tuesday, Aug. 10: Training camp finale

Every practice will start at 4 p.m. PT, with the exception of July 30 and Aug. 6, which will begin at 3 p.m. PT.  Fans can claim tickets for free online. The practices take place at UC Irvine and are a great experience for the fans. It’s a free event that allows fans to get up close and watch the players. Players and coaches typically stick around afterwards and sign memorabilia as well.

If you’re looking to get some of the new throwback jerseys, the team will likely be selling those at the site as well.

The Rams will also be hosting joint practices with the Cowboys and the Raiders. The Rams and Cowboys will practice together on August 7. In all likelihood, the Rams and Raiders will practice with each other as they head into Week 2 of the preseason when the face one another.

As mentioned, from here on out, the Los Angeles Rams are preparing for the 2021 season. That includes the preseason which will answer final questions that the team may have heading into Week 1.

  • Week 1 vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Saturday, Aug. 14, 7 p.m. PT
  • Week 2 vs. Las Vegas Raiders: Saturday, Aug. 21, 7 p.m. PT
  • Week 3 at Denver Broncos: Saturday, Aug. 28, 6:05 p.m. PT

The Rams will only be leaving Los Angeles once during the preseason, and it will be a short trip to Denver. The team will open up against the Chargers before hosting the Las Vegas Raiders.

As has been the status quo under McVay, it’s highly unlikely that the Rams will play any of their starters. As much as we would like to see Matthew Stafford throw a football in a Rams uniform, that will have to wait until Week 1 against the Chicago bears.

Some starters might play, but key starters like Stafford, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Andrew Whitowrth, Darrell Henderson and others likely will not take any preseason snaps. This is an attempt to remain healthy heading into the regular season. Teams are able to get just as much out of the joint practices while also being able to remain in control.

Los Angeles Rams Offseason Recap

The Los Angeles Rams had a decent offseason as they head into training camp. While they lost players like John Johnson, Troy Hill, Gerald Everett, and Samson Ebukam, they were able to re-sign Leonard Floyd and sign DeSean Jackson. Floyd broke out last season after signing a one-year deal. Jackson meanwhile will hope to give the team a vertical threat on the outside.

In the draft, the Rams selected another speedy playmaker on Louisville’s TuTu Atwell. Ernest Jones at linebacker also headlined the 2021 class.

The Rams didn’t necessarily make a splash in free agency or during the draft. However, the team’s biggest move during the offseason was the trade for quarterback Matthew Stafford. The team traded quarterback Jared Goff as well as first round picks for the former Lions quarterback.

With eyes set on a super bowl, expectations are at an all-time high heading into the 2021 season.

Top Los Angeles Rams Training Camp Storylines

1. Matthew Stafford Taking Over at Quarterback

There is arguably no bigger storyline heading into Rams training camp than quarter back Matthew Stafford. The Los Angeles Rams traded away a huge package for the Lions quarterback. While he hasn’t had the most success or been in the best situation in Detroit, he will have all of that with the Rams.

This has been Jared Goff’s team for the last four seasons. Stafford will take over and look to get the Rams over the top and win a Super Bowl. Stafford will have a lot of doubters, but he’ll look to be 2021’s Tom Brady.

2. New Defensive Coordinator

The Los Angeles Rams lost a plethora of coaches to start the offseason. One of those coaches was defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. In just his first season at the position, Staley took the Rams to the top of the league as the NFL’s number one defense.

Staley is now with the Chargers. Taking over for Staley will be former Falcons defensive coordinator and Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris. Morris has a personal connection with Sean McVay and will look to build on what Staley started.

3. New Faces and a New Signal Caller on Defense

Not only will their be a new face leading the defense, the Rams will also have a lot of new faces on the field as well. John Johnson III left in free agency along with cornerback Troy Hill. Samson Ebukam also left in free agency. Michael Brockers was traded to the Detroit Lions as well. That’s four starters on the defensive side of the ball that will need to be replaced.

Taking over for them will Jordan Fuller, A’Shawn Robinson, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, and David Long. While all four have experience in the NFL, none outside of Fuller have played full time. The Rams will also need to find a new signal caller on defense now that Johnson III is no longer with the team. That could fall to Fuller or the Rams could give it to a linebacker.

4. Replacing Cam Akers

This is a relatively new storyline as Cam Akers tore his Achilles last week. Darrell Henderson will look to take over the Rams backfield. However, players like Xavier Jones and Jacob Funk will be in the mix as well.

Akers finished last season on a high note, rushing for over 100 yards in the playoffs against Seattle. The second year player was expected to take a big leap this season and become one of the NFL’s premier running backs. Now, the Rams will need to adjust accordingly.

4. Can Austin Corbett Play Center

The Los Angeles Rams arguably messed up in one crucial area this offseason. That would be how they handled the center position. They played a cat and mouse game with Ausin Blythe and lost him in free agency to the Kansas City Chiefs. The team then passed on Creed Humphrey during the NFL Draft.

Austin Corbett hasn’t played center outside of preseason snaps with the Cleveland Browns. The offensive line will need to play well and protect Stafford. Corbett will play a big role in that.

Top Position Battles During Los Angeles Rams Training Camp

1. Backup Running Back

This is Darrell Henderson’s backfield heading into Rams training camp. Everyone else on the roster will be competing for RB2. The same can be said if the Rams decide to sign a free agent. Players like Xavier Jones, Jacob Funk, and Otis Anderson will need to prove that they can be capable as a change of pace for Henderson. If not, the Rams will explore the market.

All of these running backs bring something different to the table. Xavier Jones scored 25 touchdowns in his senior season at SMU. Otis Anderson meanwhile was the only running back in the draft outside of Travis Etienne to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in his career. Jacob Funk also brings ability to run between the tackles.

Henderson is going to be the starting running back. However, the Rams will need to find someone who can split time with him and give Henderson a good 1-2 punch to play with at running back. This will be key to Stafford’s success as he’s going to need a run game to take off some of the pressure on offense.

2. Linebacker

The Rams didn’t have a good linebacker group last season and somehow managed with the number one defense. The linebacker position seems to be wide open once again this year. The favorites to come out of training camp as the starters might be Micah Kiser and Troy Reeder.

While Kiser and Reeder may be the favorites, there are plenty to keep an eye one. The Rams get Travin Howard back from injury. Howard showed a lot of promise and was in line to start last season before getting hurt. Ernest Jones was drafted in the third round by the Rams and will also be in the mix.

This will likely be a rotation during the season, however, two guys need to start every week. This will certainly be a group that coaches and fans have an eye on all training camp.

3. Wide Receiver Three

The Los Angeles Rams have Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods at wide receiver. However, behind them is where things get dicey. Last season this was a role played by Josh Reynolds. The Rams drafted Van Jefferson in the second round in 2020. The team signed DeSean Jackson as a free agent who adds a vertical threat and has a lot of experience. Lastly, TuTu Atwell was just drafted in the second round in April.

As the case with linebacker, this is a positions that will be a rotation during the season in all likelihood. All three players add a dimension and offer a unique skillset. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Jackson be the primary third wide receiver as a consistent deep threat. However, don’t be shocked to see Jefferson get a lot of reps as well as Atwell see time in specific packages.

4. Cornerback Three

While wide receiver three has a competition, so does the third cornerback. The Rams have Darious Williams and Jalen Ramsey as the primary boundary cornerbacks. However, in the slot and at third cornerback is where the Rams are a little thin.

David Long will be the favorite. Long is a former third round pick who will be going into his third season. He hasn’t impressed up to this point, but now is his time to shine. The Rams also have rookie Robert Rochell, Donte Deayon and Brontae Harris in line for that spot. Adonis could compete there as well. Don’t be surprised if one of those three surpass Long on the depth chart.

5. Backup Tight End

The Los Angeles Rams have question marks at tight end now that Gerald Everett left during free agency. The Rams have Tyler Higbee…and that’s it. Johnny Mundt will be the favorite as the backup tight end. He brings the most experience and also brings a blocking element.

However, rookie Jacob Harris had a strong OTA’s and Brycen Hopkins is heading into year two and will be looking to have a good camp. Mundt will be the favorite, but keep an eye on someone like Harris.

6. Punt/Kickoff Returner

It’ll be interesting to see just how much of a competition this is during training camp. The Rams cut Nsimba Webster before training camp last week. Webster was the team’s returner last season. This would theoretically leave someone like TuTu Atwell as the team’s primary returner on punts. However, someone like Jeremiah Haydel could be someone to keep an eye on there as well. DeSean Jackson also has experience returning punts.

At kick returner, the Rams have a lot of options. Raymond Calais had some success there last season. Jacob Funk gives the team an option back at kick return. Otis Anderson had some success as a returner in college. Again, Haydel could be someone to keep an eye on here as well.

Honorable Mention – Safety Depth

The Rams have a lot of intiguing options at safety, but not all of them are going to make the roster. Paris Ford, Jovan Grant, and JuJu Hughes will all be battling it out for potentially one of the final roster spots.

Rookies to Watch During Los Angeles Rams Training Camp

1. TE Jacob Harris

There is one player that Rams fans were excited about after OTAs. That player was rookie tight end Jacob Harris. Harris joined the team as a wide receiver from UCF, but is making a position switch to tight end. He caught the eyes of coaches as he took first team reps in OTA’s. With a strong training camp, he could carve out a role in his rookie season.

2. LB Ernest Jones

There is opportunity for Jones at linebacker this season. He had the highest leadership grade during the draft for the Rams on their board which is crucial for this defense that needs a leader in the middle. As mentioned above, Micah Kiser and Troy Reeder are the favorites. However, Jones could overtake one of those guys and end up as a starter sooner rather than later.

3. WR TuTu Atwell

TuTu Atwell was not a player that I was excited about after the Rams drafted him. However, with the Cam Akers injury, Atwell is someone who could shine. It’ll be interesting to see how the Rams use him. Atwell could line up in the backfield and even take snaps at running back. He’ll likely get an opportunity to return punts as well as showcase his skills as a receiver. He could be in for a good rookie season.

Undrafted Players Who Could Stand Out

1. OG Alaric Jackson

Every season there are undrafted players that stand out and end up making the roster. This year, that player could very well be Alaric “AJ” Jackson. Jackson was The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s No. 221 overall prospect. Last season he was named third-team All-America and first-team All-Big Ten. He’ll likely move inside to guard. He may have gone undrafted, but don’t overlook him.

2. S Paris Ford

There are three safeties that the Rams signed as undrafted free agents – Jovan Grant, Troy Warner, and Paris Ford. Ford didn’t test well pre-draft, but showed some hard-hitting ability at Pitt. He compiled 45 tackles and three interceptions last season as he was named second-team All-ACC.. He has range, ball skills, and he’s very physical. Expect him to make some noise in the preseason.

3. WR Jeremiah Haydel

Making the final roster is going to be an uphill battle for him, but it’s hard to leave someone that I’m very high on, off this list. Last season he ranked third in the nation with 687 kick return yards and ranked seventh in the nation in punt return average. He was one of only two players to return a kickoff and punt for a touchdown. Hayden will need to show ability as a receiver, but he certainly has ability as a returner.

Under the Radar Players to Watch

1. OG David Edwards

David Edwards is turning into one of the best young guards in the NFL and nobody is realizing it. Last season, he put up the fourth best grade via PFF among guard drafted in 2018. In fact, among guards drafted in the last three season, Edwards ranked 10th. He’s heading into year three and by the end of it, the league is going to know who David Edwards is.

2. WR Ben Skowronek

Don’t be surprised to hear Ben Skowronek’s name quite a bit during training camp. He seems like someone who could stand out in training camp and then show out during the preseason with some big plays late in games against second and third stringers. He’s a physical specimen who could end up being a threat in the red zone.

3. S/LB Jake Gervase

Jake Gervase has spent time between the Rams roster and practice squad over the last two seasons. With the amount of depth and competition that the team has at safety, the Rams are reportedly working Gervase out at linebacker. Athletically, he lines up with some of the best linebackers in the league. However, he’ll need to show that he can in fact make the switch. If he can, the Rams might have found a gem.

4. LB Christian Rozeboom

Rozeboom made the practice squad last season as a linebacker out of South Dakota State. He’s someone that the Rams are high on and excited about heading into year two. He may not start, but don’t be surprised if he steals someone’s roster spot or ends up with some sort of role heading into 2021.

5. EDGE Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett dominated competition at the Division II level. Garrett forced 15 fumbles and finished 13th in Division II history with 36.5 sacks over 28 games. He’s 6’4, 245-lbs. Garrett has the size and he has the ability. The question is whether he can translate it to the NFL level. He’ll be someone to keep an eye one.

Los Angeles Rams Training Camp Stars

1. WR Ben Skowronek

Every season there are players that stand out in training camp and become stars. One name that immediately jumps out is wide receiver Nelson Spruce. As mentioned above in my under the radar players to watch, Ben Skowronek could have a very good training camp. There’s a good chance that by the time the preseason hits, Rams fans love him.

2. LB Ernest Jones

There’s a chance that by the time training camp is over, Rams fans are pounding the table for Ernest Jones to start at linebacker. That may happen eventually, but Jones will start to raise some eyebrows during training camp. Jones has all of the intangibles and will look to put it together on the field.

3. RB Xavier Jones

This is Darrell Henderson’s backfield, but if Jones has a good training camp and shows what he’s about, fans are going to be asking for a timeshare. This is a player that made some noise last year, but we were just unable to see him in action due to the COVID pandemic. Jones scored 25 touchdowns at SMU and the Rams have a thing for SMU running backs.

Players Who Need to Have a Good Training Camp

1. CB David Long

The Los Angeles Rams drafted David Long in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft and hasn’t lived up to that third round draft selection. The Rams don’t have a lot of options behind Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams. They need a veteran like Long to step up. If he doesn’t show anything now, he’s going to be on the hot seat.

2. TE Brycen Hopkins

It’s crazy to say this after drafting Hopkins just one season ago. However, Hopkins needs to have a good training camp. The Rams have Tyler Higbee as the starting tight end, however, behind him is wide open. Jacob Harris had a strong OTA’s while Hopkins was taking snaps with the threes. McVay hasn’t spoken much about Hopkins and that’s usually not a good sign.

3. S Taylor Rapp

The Rams drafted Taylor Rapp in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Rapp has shown some potential, but up to this point has been just a one-dimensional safety in the box. With John Johnson III leaving in free agency, the Rams need a veteran like Rapp to step up. If he doesn’t end up in the starting rotation this season, he may not have much of a future on the team.

4. EDGE Terrell Lewis

There is an opportunity for Terrell Lewis to show that he’s capable of being one of the best edge rushers on the team. However, he dealt with injuries last season and it looks to be an issue moving forward. Lewis had a lot of talent coming out of Alabama, but as of now, it seems as if he’ll only be a situational pass rusher.

Potential Surprise Cuts

1. C Brian Allen

According to some reports, Coleman Shelton has been taking some No. 2 snaps at center behind Austin Corbett. This will be a situation to watch, because it’s unlikely that the Rams would keep three centers on the roster. Allen started in 2019, but didn’t play well. The Rams also tried to claim center Lamont Gaillard off of waivers.

2. OLB Justin Hollins

When the Rams signed Justin Hollins after the Denver Broncos cut him last season, it was thought that he would be an edge rusher-linebacker hybrid. While Hollins did contribute last season, the coach that pounded the table for him – Brandon Staley – is no longer with the Rams.

3. TE Brycen Hopkins

Brycen Hopkins is very likely on the roster bubble after Jacob Harris’ strong OTA campaign. While it wouldn’t be Harris who took Hopkins’ spot, it would be Kendall Blanton. Blaton has experience with the Rams over the last three years. Meanwhile, Hopkins is just a second year player and hasn’t shown a lot to say he’s worth keeping around.

4. Kenny Young

Young has been ok for the Rams at linebacker, but he hasn’t necessarily stood out or made a difference. If the Rams cut him, they can open up over $2M in cap space. The Rams have Micah Kiser, new draftee Ernest Jones, Troy Reeder, and they get Travin Howard back from injury. This is a team that also likes what they have in Christian Rozeboom who was an undrafted free agent last year.

Surprise Players Who Could Make the Roster

1. TE Kendall Blanton

It may seem strange just one year after drafting him, but Brycen Hopkins’ roster spot seems less than guaranteed. He played just three snaps all last year, and that was despite Tyler Higbee suffering an injury and missing a game. Blanton had three receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown during the 2019 preseason. Since then, he’s spent time on the practice squad.

2. S Jovan Grant

Paris Ford will be the favorite to win the safety role over the three undrafted players. Grant is a tough, hard-hitting safety who ranked second at Merrimack last season with 49 tackles. However, if he makes the Rams final roster, it will be because of the value he brings on special teams a part of the coverage unit. At Merrimack, he recorded two career blocked kicks.

3. QB Bryce Perkins

Would the Los Angeles Rams actually roster three quarterbacks? Perkins was an undrafted free agent that spent most of the year on the practice squad last season. He’s someone that the coaching staff remains impressed with. His athletic ability also gives him potential for McVay to design specific Taysom Hill-like packages for him.

Free Agents Who Could Join the Rams During/After Camp

1. EDGE Justin Houston

Some teams might look to make an add closer to the season. Justin Houston is one of those players that the Rams should look to add. He’s still one of the more productive pass rushers in the NFL. Last season in Indianapolis, Houston had eight sacks which ranked fifth among edge defenders. In fact, he has eight or more sacks in each of the last four seasons. He’s 32 and could look to join a team after training camp.

2. RB Alfred Morris

Alfred Morris might not be the most inspiring name at running back. However, Morris played two seasons with Sean McVay in Washington which included a 1,000 yard season in 2014. Last season with the Giants, he had 238 yards, but averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Morris could be a good veteran presence to put behind Henderson. It’s also worth noting that Morris was the fifth-highest graded running back in pass protection last season.

3. LB KJ Wright

This one seems unlikely. The Rams have said that they are good with who they have at linebacker. While they also said that for their running backs, I actually believe them at linebacker. If they suffer an injury of some sort, KJ Wright could be someone they look to bring in. He has experience in the NFC West and is a good veteran to have on the roster.

 

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