Goff takes what the de­fense gives him

Los Angeles Times - - NFL - By Gary Klein gary.klein@la­times.com Twit­ter: @LATimesklein

The passes were mostly short, many on play-ac­tion roll­outs.

And that was fine with Jared Goff.

The Rams quar­ter­back fin­ished Satur­day’s joint prac­tice with the Charg­ers by ef­fi­ciently mov­ing the of­fense down the field dur­ing a two-minute drill at StubHub Cen­ter.

“Tak­ing what they give us,” Goff said. “They were play­ing their base de­fense, and with what they play, a lot of un­der­neath stuff was open.

“So if it’s there, just keep tak­ing it.”

Goff, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, took an­other small step to­ward estab­lish­ing him­self as a ca­pa­ble starter for first-year coach Sean McVay.

On a day when there was no live tack­ling, Goff looked com­fort­able — if not com­pletely ac­cu­rate — from the shot­gun for­ma­tion and also from un­der cen­ter.

He passed for sev­eral short touch­downs and avoided in­ter­cep­tions dur­ing red-zone and seven-on­seven drills through­out the two-plus hour work­out. His one mis­step: al­low­ing Charg­ers’ de­fen­sive end Joey Bosa to strip the ball while pass­ing in a red-zone drill.

But Goff com­pleted eight of 10 passes against the Charg­ers’ No. 1 de­fense dur­ing the two-minute por­tion, one of the in­com­plete passes com­ing on a third-and-three play from the eight-yard line.

“I thought he set­tled in,” McVay said. “I thought he did a nice job in the two-minute drill tak­ing com­ple­tions, be­ing smart with the foot­some ball.” With re­ceivers Tavon Austin and Mike Thomas side­lined be­cause of in­juries, the Rams did not demon­strate a ver­ti­cal threat. Goff missed on his one deep pass to rookie Cooper Kupp. Kupp, Robert Woods and Pharoh Cooper seemed to rarely ven­ture be­yond 10 or 15 yards.

That could be an is­sue for team try­ing to find mul­ti­ple ways to take the de­fen­sive fo­cus off run­ning back Todd Gur­ley.

Af­ter an out­stand­ing rookie sea­son in 2015, Gur­ley strug­gled last sea­son as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors loaded up to stop him and force the NFL’s worst of­fense to beat them with the pass. Gur­ley was re­peat­edly hit be­hind the line of scrim­mage, never looked com­fort­able and did not eclipse 100 yards rush­ing in a game.

But as he did dur­ing the first week of train­ing camp, Gur­ley looked sharp, es­pe­cially on a few plays when he ran to­ward the line of scrim­mage and then cut to the out­side and turned up­field.

“I thought you saw a vi­o­lent run­ner,” McVay said.

Gur­ley, who also caught a few passes, was on board with that char­ac­ter­i­za­tion.

“Yeah,” he said. “I’ll take that all day, for sure.”

A Rams de­fense fac­ing vet­eran Charg­ers quar­ter­back Philip Rivers was without at least four starters.

Line­man Aaron Don­ald re­mains ab­sent be­cause of a con­tract dis­pute. Line­man Michael Brock­ers and line­backer Robert Quinn were in uni­form but did not par­tic­i­pate in team drills. Safety La­mar­cus Joyner watched from the side­line.

The Rams will prac­tice with the Charg­ers again Wed­nes­day at UC Irvine, a work­out that is open to the pub­lic.

McVay an­tic­i­pates that Goff will con­tinue to im­prove.

“As long as we make good de­ci­sions, play within the tim­ing of the play and throw the foot­ball ac­cu­rately, you’re going to give your­self a chance to play pro­duc­tive foot­ball from that spot and that’s what we’re look­ing for from him,” McVay said.

A few days af­ter the joint prac­tice, the Rams will play their first pre­sea­son game against the Dal­las Cow­boys at the Coli­seum.

McVay said Goff and other starters prob­a­bly will play six to 10 plays in the first pre­sea­son game.

“You want him to be able to play with the guys that we’re an­tic­i­pat­ing [around] him,” McVay said of Goff, adding, “You want to see con­ti­nu­ity, abil­ity to get a cou­ple first downs. Then, make sure we stay healthy and give some other guys a chance to com­pete.”

Etc.

Kupp, Cooper, Gur­ley and tight ends Ger­ald Everett and Tyler Hig­bee caught touch­down passes from Goff dur­ing red zone or seven-on­seven drills . ... Backup quar­ter­back Sean Man­nion had sev­eral nice com­ple­tions to re­ceiver Paul McRoberts and a touch­down pass to tight end Te­mar­rick Hem­ing­way dur­ing seven-on-seven drills…. Line­backer Alec Ogle­tree burst through the line once to nab Rivers…. Safety Cody Davis broke up a Rivers pass in the end zone dur­ing seven-on-seven drills.

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