Rams training camp, Day 7: Robert Woods says time to take action on social justice issues

Rams leadership discuss cancelling practice, decide to create social justice fund
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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- A recap of Thursday’s practice at Rams training camp:

PLAYER OF THE DAY

Wearing a white shirt with the words “Vote” in royal blue printed on the front, Los Angeles Rams receiver Robert Woods addressed the latest issues involving racial injustice that pro sports teams have reacted to over the last 24 hours, and his team’s response to it.

With the NBA postponing three playoff games on Wednesday and nine NFL teams choosing not to practice in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha Police that left him paralyzed from the waist down, Woods said members of the Rams’ leadership council met to determine how the team would respond.

Ultimately, Woods said the decision was for the team to practice and continue to work toward a unified way to take action that move toward long-term solutions to solve the issues of racial inequality in the Los Angeles-area and beyond.

“If we cancel practice, we need to take action,” Woods said. “We need to take a bus and go somewhere, and get some changes done. Not to just cancel practice and have a moment of silence and just sit at home.

“I think it’s time to actually get involved.”

Woods said he has not talked to players on other teams, but believes that’s the next step -- creating a league-wide process to make change, with each team donating to a fund that could be used to implement positive changes in local communities.

“I think we’re going to start with the L.A.-based teams, reaching out to the Chargers,” Woods said. “But we’re trying to create are own fund, and we know the NFL will match it. But even if they do not, we want to decide where are money goes specifically.”

The USC product also acknowledged the emotional conflict he’s working through in going out to practice when situations that transcend sports need attention.

“It’s tough,” Wood said. “You want to compete and get ready for the season. You definitely want to be playing football. But I feel like even the basketball players like the Lakers and the Clippers, they definitely want to compete for a championship.

“But there are bigger issues, and that’s kind of how it felt today coming to practice. Our mind is kind of elsewhere. You want to be involved, but at same time you’ve got to work.”

Rams head coach Sean McVay brought the team together after special teams period at the start of practice to address the issues of the day and make sure players’ voices were heard.

“One of our coaches, (running backs coach) Thomas Brown -- who has been an incredible influence on me, and a help in terms of learning and getting a better perspective on all of this -- he was talking about how he’s got three young boys, and he’s hopeful that 30 years from now when they’re grown men we’re not having these same things, or he’ll be really upset,” McVay said. “That’s why we want to be so adamant in using what we can, use the platform to really affect and influence change.”

PLAY OF THE DAY

Another undrafted rookie, receiver J.J. Koski, made plays on Thursday. The Cal Poly product made a nice, leaping catch in the back of the end zone and also hauled in a couple catches on out routes during team drills.

Koski showed some quickness and run-after-catch ability.

Also, I had a chance to closely watch edge rusher Leonard Floyd during individual drills and he’s impressive, both in terms of his effort and attention to detail.

The former Chicago Bear could be an underrated addition for the Rams defensively.

ROLL CALL
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth got a rest day, as McVay dialed things back after two days of fully padded practices. Players wore just jerseys, shorts and helmets.

McVay said his team will run about 90 to 100 plays during Saturday’s scrimmage, much less than the 150 plays the Rams ran last week.

“I would like to see just good, crisp execution on both sides,” McVay said. “We want to limit the self-inflicted wounds and pre-snap penalties, whether it’s jumping off-sides offensively or defensively, you want to see guys play with the right fundamentals and techniques, communicate at a high level.

“And just as important as anything is getting comfortable with a new rhythm and routine, staying at a new team hotel the night before and just being comfortable getting to the stadium.”

McVay went on to say it will be a good opportunity to evaluate the back end of the roster and for younger players to get a chance to get more reps.

YOU DON’T SAY

“It’s so political now, this game. At first, when you get into it you want to stay away from race, politics and religion, but now that’s all we’re talking about. You’ve got to be involved, and it’s not just speaking about it – it’s actually changing laws and getting things implemented.” -- Rams WR Robert Woods, explaining why he wore a T-shirt with the words “Vote” on the front.