The Los Angeles Rams welcomed a number of new faces to their practice facilities for organized team activities. Of course, the biggest addition came in the form of former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The Rams made headlines with their blockbuster acquisition of Stafford at the beginning of the offseason. Although the move has brought Super Bowl expectations going into the 2021 NFL season, there is still plenty of work to be done for head coach Sean McVay and his staff in order to put it all together.
Stafford had surgery to repair a thumb issue that he even dubbed to be minor during the offseason. Fortunately, this has not prevented the veteran gunslinger from taking part in his first OTA’s with the new team.
The restrictions of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prevented players and teams throughout the league from getting much significant offseason work last year. However, Stafford is admittedly taking full advantage of the practice time now, via the Associated Press:
“Selfishly, I’m liking these times,” Stafford said Monday in his first public comments since the start of the Rams’ offseason program. “It’s giving me the chance to be on the field and calling plays and going against our defense a little bit. Just above-the-neck stuff, being able to work the mental aspect of the game. So that part of it has been great for me. … I feel like everybody is figuring out what works best for them as an organization, and I feel like we’ve accomplished that.”
Stafford also shared some high praise for Sean McVay’s approach to practice as he continues to get to know his new head coach:
“I’m constantly learning things about him,” Stafford said of McVay. “He’s obviously a high-energy guy. He loves the game. The biggest thing for me so far is I’ve got the same guy every single day. He demands a lot out of everybody, and he knows we demand the same out of each other.”
It is certainly encouraging to see that Stafford has made himself comfortable in his new home. If the Rams hope to emerge as bona fide championship contenders this season, they will need him and McVay to be on the same page.
Although these practices mostly consist of conditioning and individual work, it is only a matter of time before the nuances of the new offense are the top priority. The onus will fall on McVay to fine-tune the new approach around Stafford’s skill set and some of the new, explosive weapons that are now at his disposal.