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Transcript - Practice (Sept. 19, 2018)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 | Hoag Performance Center | Costa Mesa, Calif.


On DE Joey Bosa:

"Oh, it's still the same. Nothing has changed with Joey. He's out for this week."

On if Bosa will practice this week:

"No, not expected at all."

On the Rams offense:

"They have good players — we've seen good players every week though. We have guys that can matchup, and so we'll let it play out on Sunday, but they have a good receiving group. They have one of the better running backs in the league, and the offensive line is really steady. The young quarterback is playing lights out right now. They're scoring 34 points [per] game, so they're presenting problems for a lot of people, but we'll see."

On Rams QB Jared Goff:

"I've seen him just grow tremendously. You know, I'm assuming that's why they drafted him first overall."

On the approach to playing the Rams:

"You know, they're next on the schedule. That's just the way we approach every single game. Every game is a big game for us, so it's an important game for us to go out and compete and win — so, yeah, they're just next on the schedule."

On what Goff does well:

"Well, [Rams Head Coach] Sean [McVay] is doing a good job of using his skill set. The system that they're running, I'm very familiar with. I grew up in that system. He's executing it right now really well and [they're] moving him around a lot. He's throwing on the move. He's more of an athlete than what people give him credit for. He can move the ball down the field with his legs as well."

On defensive line depth:

"We're looking at added depth. We lost Joey [Bosa] for right now. We have [DE] Isaac [Rochell] over here, and we really didn't have another big end behind Isaac. [NT] Damion Square can go out and play big end in a heartbeat, but we're just looking at other people available."

On the potential of signing a defensive lineman:

"We'll see how they work out. Just let them know be ready just in case."

On if DE Isaac Rochell is still the starter:

"Oh, absolutely. Absolutely."

On T Joe Barksdale:

"It's the same with Joe — Joe is out this week. We're not going to put him back out there before he's ready, and [T] Sam [Tevi] is that guy right now."

On being familiar with the Rams offensive system:

"Yeah, very familiar with it. I was in the system for years [as a player] in Denver, and we are going to see it in back-to-back with [49ers Head Coach] Kyle Shanahan coming here [in Week 4]. So it helps that I'm familiar with that system for speaking with the defensive staff, but they've tweaked some things."

On if he has noticed any changes made by the Rams to the offensive system:

"Nothing that I'm going to tell you right now."

On the Rams secondary:

"We know they're going to be aggressive, in your face, [man-to-man] corners. We have to win our one-on-ones. That's our challenge, to beat [man-to-man] coverage."

On the Rams interior pass rush:

"Yeah, they have a good interior rush with [DT Aaron] Donald, [DT Ndamukong] Suh and [DL Michael] Brockers. Those guys can get after it. They're good, but we have a plan. We have a plan to protect our quarterback and we'll see."

On Buffalo sacking QB Philip Rivers in the second half last week:

"One was miscommunication and the other one was they got to the quarterback. We knew they were a good pass-rush team with [DE] Jerry Hughes over there, and they got off the edge and got to us."

On if RB Melvin Gordon III will practice:

"He'll practice today, yes."

On if WR/PR Travis Benjamin will practice:

"Travis Benjamin, we'll see how much he can do today. Not sure yet."

On possibly needing to score to keep up with the Rams offense:

"No, I know what we're capable of. Just because that team [is] averaging 34 [points per] game doesn't mean they're going to average that against us. So I expect our defense to step up and play well, and our offense to finish games."

On the Rams defensive line:

"Oh, they've been good. They've been really good. No one has scored a touchdown on them the last six quarters. So they've been good inside pushing the pocket. The corners outside are covering well. [Rams CB Marcus] Peters has four interceptions and a pick-six. So he's doing his thing. It's football — it's going to be a heck of a challenge for us, but we're looking forward to it."

On the offensive line:

"I think [G] Dan Feeney, [C] Mike Pouncey, and [G] Michael Schofield [III] — he has really stepped up — those guys are playing well inside. We could have played a little better in the second half last week, but I expect those guys to pick it up this week."

On C Mike Pouncey providing information to stop Rams DT Ndamukong Suh:

"I don't think there's a blueprint for stopping Suh, man. He's a heck of a player, one of the most powerful interior linemen in this league. We just have to stay in front of him and protect our quarterback."

On playing the other team in Los Angeles:

"No, that's the first time I've thought about that. That doesn't mean anything for us. I'm sure it's good for the storylines and all that, but we fight for one another. We fight for ourselves. We don't pay attention to the 'Fight for LA' thing. It's just another

game for us."

On Rams RB Todd Gurley:

"He's a three-down back. He has power, he [is elusive], he has nice hands to receive out of the backfield. I studied him hard coming out of college. I loved him then. He's just a good runner. He's proven everything."

On WR Brandin Cooks:

"His speed, that's what makes him a deep threat. He's a sprinter. He could be a world-class sprinter."

On rookie defenders making a contribution:

"Those guys are getting better every week. I expect those guys to continue to get better, step up and make plays like they did last week, even more so."


On RB Melvin Gordon III:

"So far so good. It's been a good start. You know, just the way it worked out that those balls went to him in the passing game, he's really done a great job of that over the last couple years — just his role in the passing game and his ability to make some big plays. I think back to last year in the Giants game, which he made a big play at the end of the game there on a similar type [of] play. So he's doing well. Doing a good job for us."

On the Rams defense:

"They're good. They've got some good players and they play well as a unit. I think we've gone against [Rams Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Wade] Phillips' defense — not with the Rams, other than practice last year, but over the years. They're very disciplined. They do a good job. They play their scheme very well. The new additions that he's gotten in there — I guess [CB Aqib] Talib really wasn't since he was in the Denver system — but [CB Marcus] Peters, they've done a good job of fitting in. They play hard. They're a good team."

On if familiarity with the defensive scheme helps:

"It does help because you understand what they're trying to do, but it kind of also hurts you because they know what you do and how you adjust to what they do. So it's a constant chess match for, I guess, lack of a better word. When you play a team that is not in your division or you haven't really faced — like I said, luckily we played them in practice last year, we went against them and had them in the preseason. It would be difficult if you were just coming in the third game of the season when they've [had] two games this year with a bunch of different personnel than last year. They're a little bit different. It would be pretty difficult. That is a good thing from the standpoint of just having gone against that type — that style of defense."

On if the familiarity would help one side of the ball more than the other:

"You know what? I honestly think you could flip a coin on that question. It depends. If we happen to hit a play, I'd say, 'Oh, yeah, it helped.' If they hit us for one, then they would say, 'Oh, yeah, it helped.' So I think when you're playing with guys at this level, especially some of the talent that is on the field, the margins are so tight it could go either way. He's [Wade Phillips] an outstanding coach. Coach Phillips is a great coach and knows players play really well. So it's a tough challenge."

On adjusting to elite interior pass rushers:

"Well, I think when you say elite pass rushers, it doesn't matter where they're coming from. They're a problem. These guys are all very good. They have very good technique [and are] very explosive. So you have to try to account for that, but just like we're trying to do that, they're trying to do that. They're putting the backer [linebacker] in the gap trying to get you to single up on your blocks. There are always ways. It's give and take. They're going to win some, and hopefully we can win some as well. They're outstanding rushers and really tremendous players."

On what he wanted to work on from the second half against Buffalo:

"Well, just about everything, I guess. You know what? It really came down to we didn't get going. We had opportunities and we missed a play here or a play there. It seemed like [there] was one in every one of those series. I think it was three series in a row where we didn't get going. If we just made one of those plays, if we had stayed on the block a half-second longer, if we had used the correct technique, then I think we would have been back in that mode of the way we were playing in the first half. You know, it's a tough lesson because we were playing so well in the first half and you're disappointed that we didn't do better in the second half, but that's something that we can learn from."

On the rotation of the running backs:

"Well, obviously, they've been very effective. So it's been a tremendous help for us because it opens up other things and other parts of your game. [For] the play-action game, it helps. We had some plays in that game because of the play to [TE] Virgil [Green]. A couple of those plays to Virgil earlier were because of play action, because we've been effective running the football. You've got a guy like [RB] Austin [Ekeler] that can do a couple of different things and he's a great complement to Melvin [Gordon], it helps you. The biggest challenge you face with that situation is how do you get them enough carries?"

On if he is looking to get RB Austin Ekeler more involved:

"You know what, I think every week is different. We've got a good group of wide receivers. Virgil [Green] had a good game, the tight ends are coming on. We've got [TE] Antonio [Gates]. I think a lot of it depends on who we're playing and what we're trying to match up and attack them with. So there are going to be weeks where it's going to be more about the [running] backs. There are going to be weeks it's more about the receivers. I know you're probably not familiar with it, but if you go back to the Dallas game last year on Thursday night, it was all about the receivers. They had a bunch of catches in there, and [TE] Hunter [Henry] was in there and he had a few, but this game, this past game, just the way it went, the backs were more involved. So we really like where Austin is and what he's doing, but there's no guarantee that it's going to be that same way every week."

On receptions for running backs being up across the league this season:

"You know what, I think maybe [it is due to defenses]. Once again, I'm not an authority on this, but I would say because it's early in the season, a lot of times people are still feeling each other out. A lot of times, the first read is not there and then it's a good thing to be able to go to a back if you've got one that can extend the play or make some of the plays that they can do. So I think that's something that you can look at and see as it goes over the course of the year, but it doesn't diminish the fact that we're really pleased with the guys we've got and how they're performing."

On game-planning for the Rams when they didn't play their starters all preseason:

"Yeah, that's where, and like I was asked a little bit ago, that's where being a little more familiar with the scheme helps because there are certain things you want to look at that there is no 2018 tape of. You don't know. You don't know where they're going to line these guys up, how they're going to play this coverage or how they're going to play this front. You can look back at 2017 to some of the things they've done, but they're different guys. You know, if you look at us with our different guys, one week we may be this way offensively because we have certain guys. The next week, we may be a lot different depending on if we've got a guy nicked up or a new player. You know, there are all those kind of wrinkles. So it's a lot more stressful when you don't have a lot of information early in the season like this. You always feel about week four, you've got four games, then you can get a pretty good feel for what a team does — as much as you can. They can always change it up, but it's always a little bit more difficult early in the season."

On if the team could run more to negate the pass rush:

"All depends on how we're throwing it and depends on how we're protecting. These guys are pretty good against the run, too. You want to look at them and say they're a good pass rushing team, but they're a pretty good team playing against the run as well. So, you know, I sure hope we can, but you never know from week to week. I feel like we've got a good plan. We're still working on it. It will be interesting and exciting to see how it plays out."


On the Rams defense:

"Yeah, it's much of the same — this defense as far as a typical [Rams Defensive Coordinator] Wade Phillips defense. There are lot of Pro Bowl players and a lot of really good players. They don't try to trick you with their scheme. They just line up and say they're better than you. That works for them a lot of the time. It will be a heck of a challenge. You've seen what they've done the last — shoot, the really last two weeks, but the last six quarters are really not giving up a score. They're a good defense."

On if Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has changed since he held the same role for the Chargers:

"I mean, yes. I think everybody, you grow and change in some ways, but there were two times a year when he was in Denver, it's similar [to that]. I think every defense, you know, he would be better to tell you the tweaks they've made that maybe you can't see, the little things they're doing differently, but in a lot of ways it's what they've done and what they've been successful with. He's had some of the top defenses in the league for a lot of years now near the last decade."

On Rams CBs Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib:

"[They're] certainly guys we're familiar with. Two really, really good corners, obviously. Peters has had his share of interceptions the last handful of times we've gone against him. Talib is a heck of a corner. I've always thought, going against him twice a year now for however long it's been, that I've put him up there as one of the top corners in the league — both those guys. They allow them to play man coverage and they do some different things, but they're two of the best in the league. Certain teams, defenses and corners — that are really good corners — play a lot of zone and a lot of different things. These guys line up and play man, and they make it tough on you. To hear about football being a game of one-on-one match-ups, this week truly will be that, especially on the outside."

On if the Chargers and Rams are cross-town rivals:

"I don't know. It's hard to me to have a true rivalry [with] a team once every four years. I imagine playing preseason, probably moving forward in those seasons we don't play them. I don't know. Once every four years [for] an NFC opponent, I don't know that. I think, as players in the locker room, we see it as a fight for game number three. You know, find a way to get to 2-1. So it's something I guess both teams are obviously getting used to with both being in the same area, but I don't sense that they're becoming a huge rivalry because you're not going to see them twice a year. You're not going to see them every year."

On familiarity making the game more intriguing:

"Shoot, we're just playing a really good team. This team is going to win double-digit football games, you know? So it's a heck of a challenge for us. You throw in the fact like you mentioned, we have seen [Aqib] Talib, we've seen [Marcus] Peters. We played Miami quite a bit when [DT Ndamukong] Suh was there. These are the kind of games that it are early in the year, but it's going to be a heck of a challenge. I was just telling my little ones yesterday, they don't have rankings in the pros like they do in college. They have those power rankings and this team is ranked number one right now. So I was giving them an idea of the challenge this week. It's a heck of an opponent, and we look forward to it."

On facing an interior pass rush:

"It is somewhat different because most weeks — it's a big-named edge rusher it seems like every week, but obviously these inside guys get a ton of attention. Not to take away from the outside guys, but rightfully so those inside guys get most of the attention. They're really solid players. Shoot, throw in [Rams DL Michael] Brockers in there too, their three interior guys are awesome. It's a heck of a challenge. I said the one-on-one match is on the outside, [but] they're all over the field. I think that's what's always [stood out] to me, wherever Wade [Phillips] has been — his time in Dallas when he had [OLB DeMarcus] Ware and those guys, and then having Ware and [Broncos OLB] Von Miller. I mean, he's had these guys that fit his scheme really well, and he has stuck with it. He's shown it stood the test of time through all the different things of football, power, spread, and everything else. So he not only has a good scheme, he has good players. He's a heck of a coach. Just knowing back the three years I spent with him, [Rams Assistant Head Coach & Linebackers Coach] Joe Barry was on the staff who is with us. Wade's a heck of a guy, and a guy that I know and guys love to play for and you see that every week."

On the importance of C Mike Pouncey this week:

"Yeah, shoot, I think the center's role is relevant every week. It's super important. Obviously, he and [Ndamukong] Suh probably know each other quite well, all those training camp days and practices, and all those years spent together in Miami. It's a challenge for all of us. It's a challenge for us all of us, and we prepare like crazy, so we'll give ourselves the best chance on Sunday."

On the turnaround of the Rams:

"I don't think I've followed it as closely. I was too busy trying to find a way to win football games here, but shoot, the year they had last year [was good] and it seems like they're off to a heck of a start — they're off to a heck of a start this year. They have a young quarterback playing well. They have a heck of a lot of skilled players. They brought in a veteran left tackle that's been a Pro Bowler for many years, and the defense. It's a good roster, good team. [Rams Head] Coach [Sean] McVay has done a heck of a job, and we'll have to work it out for us."

On the importance of getting rid of the football quickly:

"Yeah, that's one thing I've never at least tried to do is hold the ball very long. Getting it out quick and getting it to our guys is how we've always operated. I think that's the challenge. They're playing man cover, so you have to have time to separate. It's not going to be those quick, gimme throws that you find in some defenses where you just catch it and throw little spot routes. Those aren't going to be there when they're locked up, press-man [coverage] across the board. So, again, I hate to keep wearing it out, but it's win one-on-one match-ups — outside, inside —me making good decisions, running the football [and] all of those things for us to be successful on Sunday."

On his familiarity with the Rams defensive scheme:

"Shoot, we've had so many games, some games were good where we've been on the winning end, plenty where we haven't. I don't know. They put the same ones away, too, in the memory bank. It's a little bit of that chess match that you play. Again, I don't think we're going to fool them. Just knowing Wade [Phillips], I don't think he's over there drawing up ways to fool us. It's going to be who can outexecute. Not so much fool, but sprinkle in something we haven't seen in a while. Just like we're trying to do. We're going to try to get first downs, score points they're trying to keep us off the field. Like I said, the last six quarters, they've been very successful in doing that."

On WR Keenan Allen squaring off with Marcus Peters:

"It will be interesting to see. When you have two top corners, I don't know that they're going to necessarily match. It seemed like last week Peters wanted to be on [Cardinals WR Larry] Fitzgerald, but we'll see. I don't know that there's any that we're going to say, 'Hey, how can we get that matchup,' necessarily, but at the same time, it's not one of those match-ups that we say, 'Shoot, we're not going to throw it at all.' Years ago, we would go into games saying, 'Alright, there is a no-throw zone in this area.' Now you may say you may need it because you've filmed Peters so many in the last few years, but we're not going in overconfident by any means and saying this is the corner we want to attack. We have great respect for those corners, but at the same time, I feel like our receivers and Keenan — all of our guys will have some opportunities."

On Rams QB Jared Goff:

"I haven't watched him a ton. Again, we had some crossover games where you see him on tape, but certainly have seen him enough to see — to me, what seems to be what a comfort level he has in that offense, and being in a good flow. Really, last year they scored a ton of points. This year, they're off to a hot start offensively. He seems to fit well in that scheme, too. They're doing a lot of things to move him around in games. You've seen that keeps him on the move. Shoot, he's one of the young guys that you imagine is going to be around a long time."

On if he ever gets caught up on who the opposing quarterback is:

"No, shoot, I've got enough to worry about just trying to score points. They gave up five first downs last week and haven't given up a touchdown in six quarters, so we've got our work cut out for us offensively. Our defense has put together a great game plan to be up for their challenge also. I imagine it will be a heck of a game."

On the offense's ability to create explosive plays:

"It's been really good. Anytime [we go] over 15 yards and we count that as a chunk play, we've had plenty of those. Some of those have been short throws and long runs. Those have been just fine, too. It's been really good. I think the biggest thing for us last week was not to hit that ball in the second half. At the same time, you can't over — we're playing in an NFL football game, so it's not to say we're going to score 28.5 [points-per-game] on the regular, but we kind of hit that huge lull and didn't play like ourselves in the second half. This game, this weekend, is going to be a heck of a challenge. [A] punt could be a positive play in some situations. We've got to play smart football, not reckless, but also be aggressive and take what they give you, be smart and move on. They're going to make some plays for sure. It's a matter of do we make more than them and do it more consistently."

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