Man­nion is set­ting up a solid camp

Backup quar­ter­back for Rams is giv­ing an im­pres­sive show­ing in early work­outs.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Gary Klein

It comes with the po­si­tion.

Backup quar­ter­backs in the NFL, and all lev­els of foot­ball, are ac­cus­tomed to gar­ner­ing sup­port from fans un­happy with the starter.

When the en­dorse­ment comes from a Hall of Fame player, well, the backup takes no­tice.

Sean Man­nion of the Rams did.

In a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view be­fore train­ing camp, for­mer Rams run­ning back Eric Dick­er­son said that he would start Man­nion over Jared Goff. Mul­ti­ple me­dia out­lets picked up the com­ments.

“I don’t like to pay at­ten­tion to that kind of stuff,” Man­nion said Sun­day af­ter the team’s sec­ond train­ing camp work­out. “But at the same time, in to­day’s day and age, it’s im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore.

“So I heard about it. I ap­pre­ci­ate his com­ments and I think it’s nice that he’s been sup­port­ive of me but those aren’t my de­ci­sions to make. I cer­tainly have con­fi­dence in my abil­i­ties and I feel like if I’m called upon I can do a lot of things to help this team win.”

Man­nion, a third-year pro, has looked sharp in camp. And he will have plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing the pre­sea­son when Goff ex­its af­ter an as­signed amount of work.

But bar­ring an in­jury or

hor­ren­dous play by the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, Man­nion is on track to be the backup.

Just about every de­ci­sion the Rams have made in the last year has been done with Goff ’s de­vel­op­ment in mind.

That in­cludes the hir­ing of of­fense-minded coach Sean McVay, the ac­qui­si­tion of free agents such as re­ceiver Robert Woods and left tackle An­drew Whit­worth, and the se­lec­tion of tight end Ger­ald Everett and receivers Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds in the NFL draft.

The Rams re­cently signed vet­eran quar­ter­back Dan Orlovsky to bring ex­pe­ri­ence into the po­si­tion.

The 6-foot-6, 231-pound Man­nion said he had a great re­la­tion­ship with Goff and was good friends with the fel­low North­ern Cal­i­for­nia na­tive. Goff, he said, has made strides in get­ting the ball out quicker.

But he will con­tinue to com­pete, hop­ing to make pos­i­tive impressions on Rams coaches, and op­pos­ing coaches who might one day be in the mar­ket for a quar­ter­back.

“All I can do is come out here, fo­cus on my play and play my best foot­ball,” Man­nion said. “I feel like, through th­ese first two prac­tices, I put my best foot for­ward and have done a lot of nice things, but like I said too, those aren’t my de­ci­sions to make.”

McVay was asked Sun­day if there was any­thing Man­nion could do to truly chal­lenge for the start­ing role.

Man­nion, he said, had done “an ex­cel­lent job” and the coach com­pli­mented him for build­ing on his off­sea­son work. But he did not an­swer the ques­tion.

“We’re al­ways con­stantly eval­u­at­ing th­ese guys,” McVay said, “But he and Jared both had good days.”

Don­ald still ab­sent

Star de­fen­sive line­man Aaron Don­ald re­mained ab­sent be­cause of a con­tract dis­pute but he has been in con­tact with team­mates.

De­fen­sive tackle Michael Brock­ers said “it’s killing” Don­ald not to be at train­ing camp, but that he was work­ing out.

“You just miss his per­son­al­ity dur­ing some of th­ese hard prac­tices where he might make a joke or do some­thing or jump on your back, some­thing to pick us up,” Brock­ers said. “What peo­ple don’t re­al­ize, he brings a lot of per­son­al­ity to the de­fen­sive line as well.”

Don­ald, a three-time Pro Bowl se­lec­tion, is a team cap­tain whose in­flu­ence goes be­yond the de­fense.

“When you’re miss­ing one of your best play­ers it kind of messes with you as a team,” line­backer Robert Quinn said, adding, “We miss him but there’s noth­ing we can do about it right now.”

McVay, pre­par­ing for his first sea­son, knows he will be asked about Don­ald every day.

“It’s un­der­stand­able,” he said, jok­ing. “I’m ask­ing [front-of­fice] guys too. What is go­ing on?’ ”

McVay said there’s on­go­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Don­ald’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“We are striv­ing to work for a so­lu­tion,” he said. “In the mean­time, guys are out here get­ting bet­ter. I have full trust and con­fi­dence that Aaron is work­ing too.

“That is why, you know that he is go­ing to be do­ing the lit­tle things the right way, so that hope­fully if we can’t come to a so­lu­tion to this, he will be ready to go.”

Etc.

Re­ceiver Tavon Austin caught a short pass and broke free for a touch­down, draw­ing cheers from the crowd. … Re­ceiver Shakeir Ryan, who played at North­west­ern State, made one of the plays of the day when he hauled in a long pass from Orlovsky. … For­mer Rams re­ceiver Stedman Bai­ley vis­ited prac­tice.

Jae C. Hong As­so­ci­ated Press

SEAN MAN­NION isn’t short on con­fi­dence at Rams train­ing camp.

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