Rams wrap up offseason, move forward in "odyssey of 2016"
OXNARD, Calif. (AP) After the linemen entertained their teammates by fielding - and mostly dropping - a few punts on a postcard-perfect Thursday on the California coast, the Los Angeles Rams' yearlong road show was ready to move on.
The Rams have finished their offseason workouts in Oxnard, and training camp begins next month in Irvine, California. After that, they'll settle into their temporary regular-season home in Thousand Oaks while they await construction of their permanent training complex - oh, and their billion-dollar stadium in Inglewood.
With the players headed off on quick vacations in the final weeks of an epic offseason, the Rams organization appears to be handling the daunting challenges of relocation with aplomb.
''Considering everything we've gone through, I think we got a good deal accomplished,'' coach Jeff Fisher said.
Players and coaches have all spoken warmly of their just-completed workouts at the Ventura County hotel complex where the Dallas Cowboys hold their training camp. Many players and staffers have already moved out of the hotel and settled into permanent housing closer to their regular-season base, 25 miles away on the 101 freeway.
Preparations in Irvine and Thousand Oaks are on schedule as well, leaving the Rams feeling optimistic about their progress in the five months since they received permission to relocate from St. Louis. While they're far from finished with the ''odyssey of 2016,'' as Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff dubbed it, the Rams are well on their way.
''It's always great to look above the water and not below the surface and see the crazy legs kicking,'' Demoff said. ''It's taken a true team effort to make it, and it's great to hear that people look back on Oxnard very fondly. It helps set up their confidence that Irvine with be successful and (Thousand Oaks) will be successful. I think they really enjoyed being together and enjoyed bonding out here.''
The Rams are preparing for training camp over the next month by installing the infrastructure necessary to accommodate thousands of visiting fans on the UC Irvine campus in Orange County. Other crews are hard at work transforming a back corner of the Cal Lutheran university campus in Thousand Oaks into the Rams' home for the next few years.
They've graded the lots where the Rams' practice fields will be installed, and they're preparing for the arrival of the temporary buildings that will house their operations, Demoff said. Everyone from the equipment managers to the Rams' information technology staff must create a new home base for the players and coaches in the next two months.
General manager Les Snead is confident the Rams are still rolling toward their goal.
''Nobody has told me that we're off schedule, and that's a good thing,'' Snead said. ''There's a lot of good people that are working really, really hard, and (St. Louis to Oxnard) is the first move of three before the regular season starts.''
With the relocation process under control, the Rams are able to focus on their primary task: Making sure they're ready to win some games at the Coliseum in their homecoming season after 21 years away from LA.
That process also appears to be going well, at least from the vague conclusions that can be made from offseason workouts.
The Rams emerged from Oxnard with no major injury problems. Key contributors appear to be learning their new jobs rapidly, from middle linebacker Alec Ogletree to No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff, who shined in drills with the first-team offense.
With three months to go before their first real game, the Rams believe their outlook is still as sunny as their new Southern California home.
''I feel like we're light years ahead of where we were at this point last year,'' said defensive lineman William Hayes, who is heading into his fifth season with the Rams. ''I'm really optimistic to see what happens. This is probably the first year since I've been here that I see something special.''
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