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Transcript - Practice (Sept. 20, 2018)

Thursday, September 20, 2018 | Hoag Performance Center | Costa Mesa, Calif.


On G Forrest Lamp potentially playing this week:

"We'll see. We've been trying to get Forrest up, but we don't want to put him on the field before he's ready. If we need an extra tackle, we'll go with [T Trent] Scott again because we won't have to make as many moves. If we don't, then Forrest is going to be up."

On if the team wants to wait to keep Lamp active for the long run:

"We don't want him going up and down. As soon as we feel like he's back close to 100 percent, he understands the speed of the game and he's confident in himself and that knee, then he will be back in there."

On if it's harder to return from injury with no previous NFL experience:

"He hasn't played in two years. That's made it harder, but he has worked his tail off. He will be back."

On if it's evident that Lamp is ready to return:

"Yes, he is [champing at the bit], but he's also understanding and knows where he is right now."

On if Lamp doesn't trust his knee yet:

"I think he's starting to trust things. It's just that Forrest was an athletic guard. He moved a lot, we pulled him, he was in space and he doesn't feel that speed yet. He feels like he's a step behind. At least that's where he was last week. Today, we'll get the pads on and we'll go from there."

On Lamp communicating about his recovery status:

"Oh, we communicate. He's very honest and open with his communication."

On TE Antonio Gates:

"I don't know yet. He's under the weather right now. We would like to get him back out there today because it's third down day and red zone day. He's going to be involved so we'll wait and see how he feels."

On LB Uchenna Nwosu:

"It's the same thing that I've been saying all camp. He's a high-energy guy. He hustles. He makes plays from the backside all the time. He's going to be a play-maker in this league, it's just a matter of time."

On TE Virgil Green's role in the passing game:

"It's always situational. If the defense gives us Virgil, then we'll throw the ball to Virgil. I think when Virgil gets the ball in his hands, you realize now what he can do. He's not just a blocking tight end."

On if he saw Green as more of a receiving threat:

"I realized it last year when he caught a seam-route on us in Denver."

On utilizing Green as an additional blocker against the Rams defensive front:

"In the protection scheme, he's heavily involved in that — also our backs. We need to get him out [on routes] so that we can put some stress on the secondary, but at the same time, they're one heck of a defensive line. We're going to have to have a nice protection scheme and a plan to keep those guys off the field."

On T Joe Barksdale:

"Oh, yeah. He'll be ready at some point this season, but he's not there yet."

On FB Derek Watt:

"We're going to see how he handles a cast on his thumb today. Derek broke his thumb. He has a cast on it right now and we'll see how he handles that cast today in practice."

On if TE Sean Culkin can fill in for Watt if needed:

"That's the backup plan. Culkin can do some of the things that Derek has done in the backfield and also, we can go 'pony' with two halfbacks in the backfield. We can do different things if Derek is not with us, but we hope he's with us."

On experimenting with two halfbacks in the backfield:

"Absolutely, I like the defenses that we get when those guys [RBs Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler] are in the game [together]. If you go little, we can pound you. If you go big, we can create matchups in the passing game."

On S Derwin James' success in multiple spots on defense:

"He's been working at it for quite some time. We knew it was coming. He's still not there yet, but he's doing more and more in this defense. Like you said, we can put him in different places and he's comfortable. When you see him flying around and playing fast, that's fun to watch because he can make plays."

On James as a pass rusher:

"He has a knack for it. I like when those guys rush the passer. They never stop their feet. They can make a move, never stop their feet and just keep moving. They can jump around running backs and, sometimes, overpower running backs."

On if James has a rare skillset for a safety:

"You could say that. Not every safety can rush like Derwin can."

On if the team needs to control the ball through the running game:

"I do think time of possession is going to be important because you can't give that offense too many opportunities. They just have way too many weapons. We're going to need to stay on the field. We're going to have to do better on third downs."

On Rams WR Brandin Cooks:

"You have to stay on top. He's a deep threat. It's kind of a catch-22 because if you stay on top, then he can beat you underneath. He's just one heck of a receiver. He has that trait where he could run by a secondary or he can catch balls underneath and then run home."


Opening statement:

"Good afternoon, everybody. It's another really good, challenging week for us. It's a very elite offense. They're very good at the skill positions, obviously. Their offensive line does a good job blocking, so it will be a great challenge for us. As far as the quarterback, I think that he's playing at a really high level. We had a chance last year to go against him in training camp and he did some good things. His accuracy and poise, it just appears on film that he's playing at another level. That coupled with the running game that they have presents a great challenge for us."

On being successful against the Rams '11' personnel grouping:

"They're good in both [the pass and the run out of those sets]. This team can come line up and say, 'We want to run the ball against you,' and have 150 yards rushing in the blink of an eye. They can also spread you out and have 400 yards passing. You know what? They're just a very, very well-coached team. I think, when we look at it — if you look at the three receivers, I don't think they leave the game. They might throw a deep ball, come back [to the line of scrimmage] and they're still in the game. They just keep playing. It's really a credit to their mindset and how they approach it. You would think, 'Okay, we have one personnel grouping to deal with,' but I think we know also that they have another pretty talented tight end that they're looking at getting in the game. We're anticipating that we could see a few other personnel groupings as well."

On Rams RB Todd Gurley:

"Well, I remember — we were just talking about this as a staff — when I was in Tampa Bay in 2006, my first year, I was in the linebacker meeting room. I went in — I think in our first game we played [former Rams RB] Steven Jackson. I went, 'Boy, this running back is pretty good. He's a really good player' The next week, I said, 'This running back is really good.' Then, [Hall of Fame LB] Derrick Brooks goes, 'Gus, you're going to be saying that every week.' I feel like that with a guy like Gurley. You look at him — you just faced [Chiefs RB Kareem] Hunt, who is also very talented, [Bills RB LeSean] McCoy — and now you have another one. What I think makes him special is that he can play very physical and he also has the ability to jump-cut. With that, it's not just one cut. In the zone-scheme, that makes him really effective. He has a really good feel for it. They play with the quarterback under center quite a bit, so he's in the dot and it allows him to use his vision. He can make explosive plays at any time — not only in the running game, but in the passing game. You look at his screens, the explosive plays [he has] off the screen game. I think it was [against] Tennessee where he took a screen, I don't know how many yards, for a touchdown. He's just a challenge in all aspects."

On if he spends more time preparing against an offense like the Rams:

"It seems like every week you find things that you look at. There are always plays to watch and how they'll try to attack you, but they're very efficient. We don't do a lot of things on defense. I'm sure our players think there's a lot to it, but I think, as a whole when you look at it, [we don't do a lot], but we try to do it very well. I think when you look at their offense, they do quite a few things, but they do it all really, really well. They execute. We believe it's a precision league. You have to be precise. You have to be able to line up. What they do, is they try to come out and try to vary the tempo. At times they'll go hurry-up, at times they'll slow it down. They'll speed it up, they'll slow it down. They'll get into different personnel groupings. They'll do shifts and motions — all with creating motion on the defensive side. That's the challenging part, to be able to maintain a level of toughness of mentality to play each play. They hunt for explosive plays whether it's in the run or the pass."

On how playing Kansas City could help with preparation for the Rams:

"Well, we didn't play really well against Kansas City, so we have to play it better. I think you go back and you look at what you didn't do well in the season during the previous games. You have to get that corrected because it is a copycat league. If teams see that you have a weakness and you don't get it corrected, you're going to see it again. I don't know how many jet-sweep type of plays they ran last year, but I know in the first two games that you're seeing a lot more per-game total than they did last year. It's a part of it. What's unique about them is that everyone on their team can run the jet-sweep. Gurley has run jet-sweeps, the receivers have all run jet-sweeps. They'll jet both guys, again, to try to create confusion. I think it's an effective addition to their offense."

On the difficulty defending jet-sweep plays:

"It depends if you're playing man or zone. Sometimes, it softens up because when you're a defense that plays zone coverage, you have to switch gaps on the run. You have to play at more [of a] linebacker depth. With a lot of these zone teams, they're trying to get vertical seams — so with the distance between their block and the [defensive] linemen, and they're attacking the linebackers — there is some space there for a guy like Gurley to make his jump-cuts and operate in some space. When they do those things in zone coverage, the linebackers have to stay more at linebacker depth. In man, they can hit it hard downhill, but you have a challenge of corners running all the way across the field. They'll jet-motion and then jet-motion back. So, it's an endurance thing as well sometimes."

On S Derwin James:

"Well, I think you try to learn his skillset. We try to do that will all of our players. We try to see what they do well and then put them in those positions. Give credit to [Defensive Backs Coach Ron] Milo [Milus], and [Assistant Defensive Backs Coach] Chris [Harris] and those guys in the secondary. Then, just going through — I think we talked about it in training camp — he's playing multiple positions so that we can kind of get a feel for what his skillset is and how to best utilize it. We've done that with a lot of guys, trying to figure out guys and where they can best help our team."

On James not being overwhelmed by the responsibility of multiple positions:

"He's pretty sharp. I think that question was asked in training camp. He has seemed to pick it up very well in the classroom, it was just a matter of getting reps on the field. He's still learning. He still has a learning curve to him, obviously, and probably will for many years, but what we're seeing is that he does play fast. Whatever is on his plate and whatever you ask him to do, he is going to go 100 miles per hour. Even if it's a mistake, he'll go 100 miles per hour. I think he's getting a better feel for it. Obviously, we're still a little protective of what we're going with him and some of the situations that we're putting him in, but we're starting to add to his plate."

On forcing turnovers from the Rams offense:

"It's difficult. They do a good job with the ball. In some of the passing game, they do a lot of max protection. It allows the quarterback some time to sit back there and it aids in his ability to throw shots down the field. I think they just do a good job with it. He makes very good decisions. I talked about his poise when you watch him on tape, the poise that he has. With that, he is a risk-taker, in some terms. If a guy is covered and he has a chance to put it in there, he'll put it in there, and you see it multiple times on tape. I think he really trusts his accuracy. He's very accurate, he's very poised and they protect very well, so it's a challenge. They have some really good skill guys on the outside, so we're going to have to pick-and-choose because you have to try to affect him."

On DE Isaac Rochell:

"I think we're very grateful for Ike and the ability for him to play our big end spot where [DE] Joey [Bosa] played. We'll rotate him around, but his size and his length — he has done a really good job with his body-type from when he first came into where he is now. I think that's helped him. I think him being around Joey and those guys having a great relationship has helped in his growth as well as [Defensive Line] Coach Giff [Smith] is an amazing d-line coach. You see multiple guys on our defensive line really get better each day. I think he's one that fits that mold."

On how much it helps to have athletic linebackers and safeties with Gurley's ability to catch the ball:

"The game, at times, can be spread out. It really means that there's a lot of space on the field, so you have to have speed. I think, with our linebacking group, that's what we're evolving to, where guys like [LB] Kyzir [White], [LB Jatavis] JB [Brown] and [LB] Denzel [Perryman] — those guys can run pretty well. You have to be able to operate in space and close that cushion because it is such a spread-out game."


On Rams WR Brandin Cooks:

"I think that he's been playing pretty solid all season. Last game, he had a really good game. He had 160 yards or something like that. Since [we saw him with New England], I just think he's been more precise as a route-runner. Coming from the Patriots, you had [QB] Tom [Brady] and now you have [Rams QB Jared] Goff. He and [Rams Head Coach Sean] McVay will find ways to get him the ball. I think they'll find more ways to get him the ball in this offense."

On facing Rams Head Coach Sean McVay's offense:

"They do a lot of different things. It's very similar to Kansas City with reduction and things like that. You can't press and different things like that. They make the corners come up and tackle off the edge because their wide receivers do a good job of blocking down, so we have to be ready to come up and tackle. They just do a lot of stuff on offense. We have to come prepared. Today is a big day for us to out there and learn some of their offense."

On if it helps having played Kansas City:

"They're not similar schemes, they just do a lot. Kansas City does a lot of motioning and different things. They line up their guys in different positions. They do the same thing with the Rams, but they do it from a reduced standpoint and make the guys come up and tackle. It's the same way Kansas City makes you come up and tackle the running back, but their schemes are definitely different."

On S Derwin James:

"If you go back and watch him from Florida State, those are all the things he did — blitz, cover, sacks, interceptions. That's what we drafted him for, to come in and do those things. He's been playing at a high level for us these past two games. For rookie to come in and be able to start day one, that says a lot because we didn't just give him that spot, he earned it. For a guy to be able to do that right away, that's been a blessing for us."

On Rams QB Jared Goff:

"Man, hopefully, we can get some pressure on him. He's been playing lights out. He's very accurate. We pressed against him a year or so ago, [he's] a way different quarterback than that now. He's lights out. He's been playing lights out. People just say scheme-wise and all of that, but he's making throws all over the field. Hopefully, we can get some pressure on him and try to limit their wide receivers."

On the biggest differences in Goff from last season:

"I would just say pure accuracy. He's been accurate. Going all the way back from last year — if you watched all the games from last year — they've just put Jared Goff in situations to win. That's what they're doing right now."

On playing the other team in Los Angeles:

"I guess [there's added significance] since it's the week that we're playing them, but other than that, no. We just worry about the one that's up now and it just so happens to be the Rams. We try to come here and win each and every week, no matter who it's against. It could be the east coast team or the Rams. We just try to come in and win each and every game. It just so happens to be those guys this week."

On emotions running high in the game:

"Maybe heated because we're all hitting each other and it's another team. It'll probably get heated in the midst of things like that. We're all professionals so it shouldn't get overboard. We're definitely trying to take each other's head off. They're trying to take our head off and vice versa."

On the Rams offensive tempo:

"Like you said, they're definitely up-tempo. It's not just that they're up-tempo the first 15 plays. They can do it in the middle of the second quarter and it'd be like tempo, tempo, tempo, tempo, slow down. Tempo, tempo, tempo, tempo, slow down. We just have to be ready at all times. They can just come up [and change it]. They don't even change [personnel]. They'll normally be in 11 personnel. That doesn't even change a lot, so we won't be able to change a lot or we'll get caught in the tempo. We have to be ready for their tempo."

On the challenge of the varying tempo:

"I think it's a challenge when they tempo and you don't get to see the whole picture. When they tempo and they go three-by-one or two-by-two, you don't get to read it. You don't know what they're in so now you're just working on your technique and preparation to try and survive the down. That's what you have to do."

On the challenge when the Rams slow down the tempo:

"If they slow it down, it definitely helps being able to line up fast and being able to play, but their offense is difficult in general with all of the different things they do with the motions and things like that. I feel like, if we can get them to slow it down, I think it will definitely help us."

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