For the first time in NFL history, all teams will have a universal start date for training camp this year. Every team – with a few exceptions – will begin practices on July 27. So we’re less than a month away from the Rams, heading back to UC Irvine for training camp.
Yes, fans can attend training camp. However, for many fans, this will be their first chance to see them in action since December 2019, the last game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. There are some new faces, and some fan favorites are missing, leaving many questions heading into training camp.
How will the offense look with Matthew Stafford?
Matthew Stafford is known for his deep ball. However, how often will he use that arm? Having the deep ball ability is great for a balanced offense. It means linebackers and safeties will cheat deep to cover, leaving room for the running game and short routes like the screens and the jet sweeps the Rams love to run. We’ll have to see how Sean McVay balances the offense going forward. Will they lean heavily into the deep ball to stretch the field or sprinkle it in to keep defenses guessing?
Per Next Gen Stats, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods combined for an average of 6.7 target air yards. Even Tyler Higbee only averaged 7.6 air yards. Those numbers will go up with Stafford under center.
Who takes over for Josh Reynolds?
The most surprising thing about the Rams draft was the number of receivers they took. They took Tutu Atwell with their first pick in the draft, then added tight end Jacob Harris and wide receiver Ben Skowronek. That’s not to mention Van Jefferson in last year’s draft and picking up veteran receiver DeSean Jackson this year. Stafford will have plenty of options to throw to. The question is who steps up into that No. 3 spot.
ESPN currently lists Jackson in that role on the unofficial depth chart, but I’m not convinced. We could see a rotation in the third spot and give different looks every play. It’ll be interesting to see how the Rams handle the receiver depth going forward.
Can the defense remain No. 1 under Raheem Morris?
The Rams hired Raheem Morris after Brandon Staley became the Head Coach for the Chargers. A big thing you can tell right off the back is how he’s already has a good relationship with many players like Jalen Ramsey. You can see the energy he brings to the team in his Mic’d up video from June’s open practice.
Morris coming from the Atlanta Falcons might scare some. However, during the team’s last eight games, when he took over as head coach, the defense exploded. The Falcons went 6-2 in that stretch, went from 4 takeaways in the first half to sixteen and improved from worst to top ten in the league in sacks, scoring efficiency and red zone efficiency.
Will Morris be able to translate that success in Atlanta with the Rams? Hopefully. The defense lost many key parts at every defensive position. Morris will need to find players to fill the holes. We’ll also need to wait and see how the defense comes together during the preseason.
Does Cam Akers have a breakout season?
If you go off the final stretch of 2020 and the playoffs, then yes, Cam Akers should. However, is Sean McVay ready to turn his sophomore running back into a workhorse like Todd Gurley? I don’t think so. The Rams could use Darrell Henderson more than expected. Do they divide the work evenly, or will it depend on the look or package? With the addition of Stafford, does the team pivot more to the passing game?
These questions will get answered over training camp and the preseason, making the running back conversation for the Rams that more interesting. I’m hoping Akers can become a true starter. I just don’t want to jump the gun.
Will Dont’e Deayon make the final roster this year?
Dont’e Deayon became a fan favorite last year after his spotlight in the Rams season of “Hard Knocks.” Many fans were pulling for him to make the final roster at the end of the show. However, the Rams did place him on the practice squad. One of the things I’ll be looking for is seeing if he makes the final roster this season with the Rams.
Deayon has some playing experience. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Giants in 2016 and spent two years there before joining the Rams in 2018. He’s been activated from the practice squad for both teams but hasn’t started the season on a roster. In his four seasons in the NFL, he’s recorded 19 tackles, one tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery.
Featured Image: Michael Owen Baker / The Orange Country Register