Tagged in: Rams

Odell Beckham Jr. agrees to contract with Los Angeles Rams

Odell Beckham Jr. has agreed to a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams, the team revealed.

The free-agent wide receiver joins a high-powered offense led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and adds to a depth chart at the position that already includes Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson.

Beckham became a free agent when he cleared waivers on Tuesday after being released by the Cleveland Browns.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks were among the other teams Beckham considered this week, sources had told ESPN.

Stafford stated Thursday he has a lot of respect for Beckham, who he played with at a Pro Bowl. He lauded Beckham for being “outstanding” both when the ball is in the air and after the catch and said he was “excited” to be able to work with him on the Rams.

“It’s an opportunity for us as a team, it’s an opportunity for him to come in here and prove himself to us. What our room is about in the receiver room is pretty special. I know he’ll fit right in and continue to get better and hopefully help us as a team,” Stafford said.

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Stafford said if Beckham wants to win, “that’s what we’re all about,” and he was confident he’ll be able to contribute.

“Everybody on our team carves out their role. They do a great job of figuring out what that role is going to be and going out there and proving it both on the practice field and in games and given the opportunities I know he’ll do the same,” he said.

In Los Angeles, Beckham essentially replaces veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was released after the trade deadline last week. Jackson signed with the Las Vegas Raiders this week.

Beckham is the second high-profile player added by the Rams this month, after Los Angeles traded for star pass-rusher Von Miller before the deadline last week. Miller welcomed Beckham to Los Angeles on his Instagram Story, posting: “Let’s chase this ring family!!!!”

Beckham was also welcomed to L.A. by Lakers superstar LeBron James, one of his good friends, who tweeted: “Welcome to LA my brother @obj ! It’s GO TIME!!”

The Rams lead the NFL in total offense this season behind a potent passing attack led by Stafford, who is first in the NFL with 2,771 passing yards. Kupp is the team’s No. 1 receiver and leads the NFL in receptions (74), receiving yards (1,019) and touchdown receptions (10).

The Browns excused Beckham from practice last week while the sides negotiated his exit. He had asked to be traded and never developed an on-field connection with Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Beckham essentially forced his release last week when his father shared an 11-minute video on social media — hours before the trade deadline — of plays in which Mayfield didn’t pass him the ball.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection has 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six matches this season. Beckham had 1,035 receiving yards in 2019, his first season with Cleveland, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2020. He has passed the 1,000-yard receiving mark five times in his career.

Browns safety John Johnson III, who spent the past four seasons with the Rams, was on a Zoom call with Cleveland reporters when the news of Beckham’s signing broke. Johnson wondered how OBJ will fit in L.A.

“They had a good thing going, like a complete offense,” Johnson said. “I don’t know. I just feel, like, from being in L.A., I know for a fact the offense runs through Cooper Kupp; even in the run game, the pass game, the screen game, it kind of runs through Cooper Kupp. So obviously, Odell’s a big name and he’s going to want that attention as well. It will be interesting.

“Coach [Sean] McVay, he’s one of the best doing it. He’ll find a way to get it done, but right off the bat, I really wouldn’t want to go there if I were him. But we’ll see how it goes, and I wish him the best.”

The Rams have been remarkably successful at managing the egos and needs of their elite players, with McVay assuaging almost all public disenchantment with the organization.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was considered a potential locker room problem after he forced his way out of Jacksonville, but he has been a model citizen and a clear team leader in Los Angeles since arriving in 2019.

The Rams (7-2) play the San Francisco 49ers (3-5) on Monday night.

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Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz has sprains to both his ankles, Frank Reich says

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz’s status for the key Week 3 AFC South game at Tennessee is up in the air because of two sprained ankles suffered versus the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, coach Frank Reich stated Monday.

Wentz’s most severe sprain occurred on his right ankle when he tried to scramble and was taken to the ground by Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald with less than eight minutes left in the game.

Wentz didn’t return after limping to the sideline and then throwing his helmet in frustration. Wentz sprained his left ankle earlier in the game, according to Reich.

The coach stated he still had to meet with the team medical staff to get a better indication about Wentz’s ankles.

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“I know Carson has a high threshold for pain,” Reich said. “When you have guy who is a pocket passer, it affects his game less than a guy who is a mobile quarterback. That’s not rocket science. My history with Carson is that he’s a pretty fast healer and he’s tough. If there’s any chance he can play with these ankle sprains, he’ll play. It’s an incredibly big game.”

Wentz is 45-of-69 for 498 yards with three touchdowns and an interception through the first two matches of the season.

The most alarming stat with Wentz is that he has been sacked six times and hit an additional 21 times in those two games. He has played a full season only twice since entering the NFL as the No. 2 overall pick in 2016.

Second-year quarterback Jacob Eason will start against the Titans if Wentz is inactive. Eason threw an interception on his second pass attempt after entering the game in Sunday’s 27-24 loss.

Eason found himself in a quarterback battle with rookie Sam Ehlinger to potentially be the starter when Wentz was out for three weeks while recovering from left foot surgery during training camp. The Colts have not started a season 0-3 since 2011.

“If Jacob has to play, Jacob will be ready,” Reich said. “The situation he got thrown into [late in Sunday’s game] was as tough as it gets. I can tell you that from experience. He’ll be ready if he has to be.”

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Los Angeles Rams acquire RB Sony Michel from New England Patriots

The Los Angeles Rams have acquired Sony Michel from the New England Patriots to add some much-needed depth at the running back position.

The Patriots obtained a sixth-round pick in 2022 and a fourth-rounder in 2023 in the deal.

Michel fills an immediate need for the Rams, who will play the season without rising star Cam Akers after he tore his right Achilles tendon while working out before training camp.

In Akers’ absence, Darrell Henderson Jr. has taken over as starter, but the Rams lack depth behind the third-year pro.

“We identified Sony for many reasons,” Rams general manager Les Snead said Wednesday. “Number one, being his experience, and experience meaning like a player who has carried the ball in big games and in those big games, where there have been big moments, big drives, big series.”

Second-year pro Xavier Jones, an undrafted free agent in 2020, and rookie seventh-round pick Jake Funk have competed throughout the preseason with the hope of proving they could fill the position.

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At the outset of training camp, coach Sean McVay stated the Rams would give their young backs ample opportunity to compete for the job but left open the possibility that the team could look for outside help when the season opener approached.

Asked this week whether Jones and Funk had proved through two preseason games that they could be ready for Week 1 versus the Chicago Bears on Sept. 12, McVay said the Rams were in the process of figuring that out.

“We got a little bit of time,” McVay said. “Darrell is a guy that’s been established and done some good things. But I was pleased with both those guys.”

Henderson suffered a mild thumb sprain in practice Monday but returned to practice Tuesday with a cast or brace protecting his left hand.

A fourth-year pro, Michel has rushed for 2,292 yards and 14 touchdowns in 28 starts for the Patriots, who drafted him in the first round with the 31st pick in 2018.

“What he does bring is this element of make a cut, get north and south and get north and south with some force,” Snead said. “The physics that he brings to the table — let’s call it a flavor or genre that we felt like complemented our group.”

In a 13-3 triumph over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, Michel rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

Michel is due to earn a base salary of $1.79 million in the final year of his contract in 2021 after the Patriots previously elected not to exercise his fifth-year option for 2022. He had drawn rave reviews from Patriots running back coach Ivan Fears this preseason, with Fears saying he had “upped his total game.”

Last season, Michel missed six games when he was placed on injured reserve after Week 3 because of a quadriceps injury. In nine games he rushed for 449 yards and a touchdown on 79 carries. In a 24-3 loss to the Rams, Michel rushed for 22 yards on seven carries.

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Los Angeles Chargers hire Rams’ Brandon Staley as coach

The Los Angeles Chargers have agreed to terms with Brandon Staley to become their next head coach, the team revealed Sunday night.

He will be formally introduced at a news conference on Thursday.

Staley served the past season as the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator, developing the top-ranked defense in the NFL behind star defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Staley’s unit propelled the Rams to a 10-6 season and a wild-card playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks before the team exited the postseason with a loss to the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. I

n his first year as an NFL coordinator, Staley’s defense ranked No. 1 in efficiency, yards permitted per game and points allowed per game. With the Chargers, Staley replaces coach Anthony Lynn, who was fired after four seasons and a 33-31 record.

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The Chargers are coming off a 7-9 season that resulted in a third-place finish in the AFC West.

However, Staley inherits a roster that includes several cornerstone players, including rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 touchdown passes in a single season. Staley also takes over a defensive unit that includes Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa and All-Pro safety Derwin James.

“It’s hard to put into words just how excited I am for the opportunity to be the Los Angeles Chargers’ Head Coach,” Staley said in a statement.

“While this is certainly a dream come true, it’s also a dream that’s just beginning. There’s a reason this was probably the most sought after job out there — from ownership, to the fans, to the city, to the men in that locker room — it’s the total package.”

The 38-year-old Staley has quickly risen through the NFL ranks since he first was hired as a position coach in 2017 with the Chicago Bears. He spent two seasons in Chicago under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio before he followed Fangio to the Denver Broncos, where he spent one season as outside linebackers coach before joining the Rams’ staff.

Staley is the third assistant under Rams coach Sean McVay to get an NFL head coaching job, joining Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur and Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor.

“I think any time that you have those situations arise, that’s one of the most gratifying things,” McVay said Sunday during his season-ending news conference.

“That’s also really a unique thing to see him come in and do such a great job, then immediately be a prime candidate for a lot of these openings and you realize how precious these opportunities are.”

Prior to coaching in the NFL, Staley coached for three seasons at John Carroll University, a Division III college in University Heights, Ohio, and also spent a season as defensive coordinator at James Madison University.

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Packers host Rams with NFC championship game berth at stake

No NFL team scored more points during the regular season than the Green Bay Packers. Nobody has played better defense than the Los Angeles Rams.

That sets up an intriguing showdown of strength vs. strength when MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (13-3) host All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Rams (11-6) in an NFC divisional playoff match Saturday.

“This is what you love,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “These are the type of matchups and opportunities that as a competitor, you can’t wait for.”

Both of these units are at the top of their game.

The Packers have won six consecutive games and have been held below 22 points just once all campaign. Los Angeles got to this point by sacking Russell Wilson five times in a 30-20 triumph at Seattle last week.

“They went to Seattle, played a familiar opponent and played really, really well, and they’re coming in with the confidence that they should have,” Rodgers said. “And we’re coming in with confidence as well, the season that we’ve had and what we believe we’re capable of.”

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Rodgers has set franchise single-season records for touchdown passes (48) and completion percentage (.707) this year while throwing just five interceptions for an offense scoring 31.8 points per game. Donald calls Rodgers a “great quarterback that’s playing lights out this year.”

Donald leads a defense that permitted the fewest points and yards of any team during the regular season.

“At any time, at any quarter of the game, a different guy could make a big-time play for us,” Donald said. “It’s not just one or two guys. When you’ve got a group of guys – all 11 out there – who are pretty much playmakers who can make that game-changing play at any time, you’ve got a great group.”

This will be the first time the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense and scoring defense have faced off in the postseason since the New England-Atlanta Super Bowl on Feb. 5, 2017. The Patriots had the top-ranked defense and the Falcons had the No. 1 offense that year.

This also will be the Rams’ first playoff game at Lambeau Field. These two franchises have met in the postseason just twice before, with the Packers winning 28-7 in Milwaukee on Dec. 23, 1967, and the Rams winning 45-17 in St. Louis on Jan. 20, 2002.

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Rams center Brian Allen tested positive for coronavirus

The 24-year-old is the first active NFL player to publicly recognize that he tested positive for the virus.

Allen, who is preparing for his third campaign in the league, was spending his offseason at the Rams’ training facility to undergo rehabilitation treatment on a knee injury when he started to feel symptoms three weeks ago.

The Rams’ training facility was closed for two weeks and cleaned thoroughly, according to a Rams spokesperson. Players who must undergo rehabilitation returned this week.

Allen told Fox Sports that he lost his sense of smell and taste and had a sore throat, fatigue and headaches. He is expected to be cleared of the virus this week.

Rams coach Sean McVay told Fox Sports that he has spoken with Allen, adding that the offensive lineman is “feeling good, he’s healthy, and he’s on the road to recovery.”

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McVay said the team’s facility was closed as soon as Allen notified the Rams that he had tested positive for the virus in an effort to ensure no one else was potentially exposed.

The symptoms lasted for three or four days when he decided to return to his doctor last week and was re-tested.

Allen tested positive again, but because of how long he has had it, doctors say he should be in the “all clear” this Thursday. Doctors have reportedly told Allen that he will regain his sense of taste and smell in the next six or eight months. 

A fourth-round pick from Michigan State in 2018, Allen played a limited role on offense as a rookie. Last season, he took over as the starting center and started nine matches before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He has appeared in 22 games in his two seasons.

Although no active NFL players previously said they tested positive, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and one unidentified member of the Los Angeles Chargers organization tested positive, and two others on the Chargers have shown symptoms.

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Rams promote Sophie Luoto to director of football operations

The LA Rams have long been the leader of breaking barriers in the NFL. The team is breaking another by promoting Sophie Luoto to Director of Football Operations.

The LA Rams continue the age-old tradition cherished by the city of Los Angeles of removing barriers in the professional sports scene. And so it is with great pleasure, and no surprise, that the LA Rams will be promoting Sophie Luoto to the Director of Football Operations.

Luoto graduated from U.C.L.A in 2010 with the dual major of mass communication and history.  Per the LA Rams Media guide published December 4, 2016, Luoto joined the team in 2015. She initially served as the liason between the COO and all LA Rams business personnel. 

She was likely heavily involved in the logistics of moving the then St. Louis Rams back to the Los Angeles area., quite a feat unto itself.

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Luoto will fill the vacated position of Bruce Warwick, who departed the organization after 10 years to become the chief of staff for coach Mike Norvell at Florida State University in December 2019.

With her promotion, Luoto will become the highest-ranking woman in the Rams organization and is among select few women in high-ranking football operations positions across the NFL.

Her duties involve directing team travel, which includes team travel for NFL matches, as well as all associated travel of scouts and prospects to various workouts, events, and destinations. She also will direct operations at the team practice facility as well as the team’s training camp at UC-Irvine.

Luoto, who graduated from UCLA, has spent the last four campaigns with the Rams serving as a manager in football operations. She previously worked at California-Berkeley as the director of recruiting operations.

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Joe Barry to stay with Rams after declining USC offer

Joe Barry, the Rams’ linebackers coach for the last three campaigns, turned down the opportunity to become USC’s defensive coordinator and signed a new contract to remain with the Rams, a person with knowledge of the situation stated Thursday.

Barry took himself out of consideration for the USC job after discussing the parameters of a contract with a school official, the person said.

USC coach Clay Helton sill in the search of a replacement for Clancy Pendergast, who was fired after a 49-24 Holiday Bowl defeat to Iowa. The Rams’ staff has been shuffled since the conclusion of a disappointing 9-7 season that ended with the team missing the playoffs for the first time in coach Sean McVay’s three seasons.

McVay did not retain defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and running backs coach Skip Peete. Special teams coordinator John Fassel left to join the Dallas Cowboys’ staff, and Peete this week also joined the Cowboys staff.

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McVay hired Brandon Staley as defensive coordinator, setting up the possibility of Barry’s departure to USC, where he played linebacker in 1992 and 1993, served as a graduate assistant and later coached with Helton as part of Lane Kiffin’s Trojans staff in 2010.

As USC focused primarily on the NFL ranks to replace Pendergast, Barry emerged as one of its top options.

He met with Helton on campus last week, but a person familiar with the search said that USC had continued considering other candidates.

The process had stalled in the days since Helton met with Barry, leaving many to wonder where USC’s coordinator search stood. Now, as Barry officially returns to the Rams, that search will move into its fourth week.

A few noteworthy options still remain. Kris Richard, who graduated from Gardena Serra High and played defensive back at USC, was not retained by the Cowboys’ new staff this week. He served as a graduate assistant under Pete Carroll, before following the former Trojans coach to the Seattle Seahawks.

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Rams part ways with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips

The Los Angeles Rams had a disappointing post-Super Bowl season, and that has inevitably led to a coaching shakeup. Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reported that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will not be retained for next season, which Phillips confirmed on his own Twitter account.

Phillips, 72, joined the Rams in 2017 as part of head coach Sean McVay’s staff. McVay was just 30 at the time and had experience as the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, but had never been a head coach. McVay handed the defensive keys over to the more-experienced Phillips and the move paid off in a big way.

The Rams made it to the wild-card game in 2017, and then all the way to the Super Bowl in 2018. With the Rams’ battles in 2019, it makes sense that McVay and GM Les Snead would want to make a change or two.

A 9-7 record might be good enough to win the NFC East, but it’s a huge comedown for a team that was so successful just a year ago.

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The Rams are Phillips’ 10th NFL team, and he’s had an impresive career. He started with the Houston Oilers in 1976 when his father was the head coach, and has been steadily employed in football ever since.

He’s been the defensive coordinator for eight different teams and had head coaching jobs with the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys — and that is not counting his three stints as an interim head coach.

As Phillips said in his tweet, he’s not done. He still wants to coach. McVay has talked about him in glowing terms in the past, which will only help his résumé despite the end of his Rams tenure.

“He’s always had a great perspective based on his experience, whether it be as a head coach or as a coordinator,” McVay told the OC Register in late December.  “But it’s never pushed on you. He’s always willing to share. [Players] love him. He’s got a consistency that you can’t help but appreciate.”

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Jaguars trade Jalen Ramsey to Rams for pair of 1st-rounders

The Jacksonville Jaguars traded Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams.

In return, the Rams will send Jacksonville first-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 and a fourth-round selection in 2021, according to the ESPN report.

Ramsey demanded a trade from the Jaguars after a Week 2 sideline dispute with head coach Doug Marrone in a loss to the Houston Texans. He confirmed to media the request the next week in a Sirius XM interview.

Ramsey played in Jacksonville’s Week 3 win over the Tennessee Titans, but hasn’t suited up since, citing various ailments including a back injury and flu before taking an indefinite leave from the team for the birth of his daughter.

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The deal marks the third trade of the day for the Rams, who dealt cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens for linebacker Kenny Young and an anonymous draft pick, and sent a 2021 draft pick to the Cleveland Browns for second-year center Austin Corbett to help shore up a porous offensive line earlier Tuesday.

Ramsey, 24, is in his fourth NFL season after the Jaguars selected him with the fifth pick of the 2016 draft.

He lived up to his lofty draft status, earning Pro Bowl nods in 2017 and 2018, and All-Pro honors in 2017.

He’ll provide an instantaneous upgrade to a pass defense that ranks 14th in the league and will allow the Rams to play more man-to-man defense. He’s a legitimate lock-down cornerback.

The Rams have taken a hard slide after a 3-0 start, dropping to 3-3 with Sunday’s 20-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers marking a new low on the season. The defending NFC champions are in win-now mode, but find themselves in a dogfight in the NFC West with the 5-0 49ers and 4-1 Seahawks, whom they have an 0-2 record against this season.

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