The Rams are making contingency plans if Southland fires continue to affect air quality that prevents them from practicing at their Thousand Oaks facility in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Coliseum.
On Wednesday, a day after smoke and ash were in the air, the conditions were clear and breezy. The Rams went through an extended walk-through, but did not practice.
Coach Sean McVay said the team has arranged to work out at USC in the days ahead if it is determined that the air quality in Ventura County remains unhealthful for players.
But he is planning to get back to routine at the team’s facility.
“Seems like if things continue to improve, we’ll be able to go about our normal operating procedure and be out there,” McVay said of practicing Thursday. “If not, we have some contingency plans in place.”
McVay said that if the fires spread and affect air quality at USC, the Rams would secure another facility.
“We might have to explore some alternative options so that we can make sure we get a good practice in and get out on the field,” he said.
They do afford more first-team reps for backups and rookies such as linebacker Samson Ebukam, who will start in the injured Barwin’s place for the second consecutive week.
McVay said the day without a practice “actually worked out as a benefit” because it gave the players more of an opportunity for mental preparation.
It was, however, a break from routine, which coaches and players universally have said helps them prepare, regardless of the opponent.
McVay said he was not concerned how the break in routine would affect preparation for the 10-2 Eagles. He cited the way his players successfully handled the Rams’ long trip to Jacksonville and London this season as an example.
“They just kind of adjust and adapt and I think we’ve become a more mature team as the season has progressed,” he said.
Quarterback Jared Goff said the break in routine was similar to when the Rams had a short week before they played a Thursday night game against the San Francisco 49ers.
“It actually ended up working out really well,” he said of Wednesday. “I mean, just getting a chance to kind of get off our feet a little bit and get a lot of mental work in and get probably a lot more reps than we would have.
“Obviously, the timing and stuff like that is something I want to get with receivers, which we expect to do [Thursday].”