Jared Goff sees ‘advantage’ for Rams in year of practice restrictions

The Rams have finished their “virtual offseason program” on a traditional note of optimism.

Coach Sean McVay called a halt to the team’s four-days-a-week video-stream meetings on Thursday — two weeks short of the two months allotted by the NFL — saying coaches and players had accomplished “a lot of good stuff.”

They plan to report to training camp in Thousand Oaks on July 23 (rookies, quarterbacks and injured players) and July 28 (other veterans), although dates and procedures remain tentative as the league adjusts to the coronavirus pandemic.

Quarterback Jared Goff said the Rams are better equipped than other teams to deal with the uncertainty.

“It’s so fluid, it changes every week at this point,” Goff said in a conference call with local reporters. “It’ll be good that the whole league will have to stick to a similar program, so there won’t be any disadvantage in that way.

“I do think we (the Rams) have an advantage offensively with the same system, the same players and everything. Our defense is obviously going to have to get on the grass and learn their new system.

“But it’s an advantage for us running into the season where you’ve got teams that are trying to install new systems on both offense and defense, which is damn near impossible.”

The Rams have a new offensive coordinator in Kevin O’Connell, and will be installing new running backs in place of Todd Gurley, who was released, and wide receivers in the role of Brandin Cooks, who was traded. But McVay still runs the offense and isn’t expected to change the approach.

The defense is in the hands of first-time NFL coordinator Brandon Staley.

The Rams are scheduled to open the four-game preseason Aug. 14 against the New Orleans Saints in the first event at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, and open the regular season Sept. 13 against the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi.

McVay said Rams players are healthy going into the NFL’s annual quiet period before training camp. Apparently nobody developed a stiff neck or carpal tunnel syndrome in all that Zoom chatting.

Players coming off injuries are expected to be ready for training camp, McVay said. Among the Rams who finished the 2019 season (9-7) on injured reserve were center Brian Allen (knee), guard Joe Noteboom (knee), running back Darrell Henderson (ankle) and safety John Johnson (shoulder). Allen recovered after testing positive for Covid-19 in March.

“I feel like we’ve been able to gain an edge in the midst of all the things going on, and we’ve got to maintain that edge so that we can hit the ground running when we come back,” McVay said.

The coach praised players for getting together in small groups to practice informally during a period when, in a normal year, teams would have been holding on-field organized team activities (OTAs).

Under NFL orders that training camps be held at teams’ regular-season facilities this year, the Rams will train at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks instead of UC Irvine.

The league laid out pandemic-year protocols last week that include daily health screenings, six-foot gaps between lockers, everyone wearing masks, and limits on in-person meetings.

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