Rivers’ words serve to rile up the de­fense

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Gary Klein and Lind­sey Thiry gary.klein@la­times.com Twit­ter: @la­timesklein lind­sey.thiry@la­times.com Twit­ter: @Lind­seyThiry

Rams cor­ner­back Tru­maine John­son was not hav­ing it, not from Charg­ers re­ceivers and ap­par­ently not from quar­ter­back Philip Rivers.

Early in Wed­nes­day’s joint prac­tice, John­son jammed Don­trelle In­man at the line of scrim­mage and then shad­owed the re­ceiver up the field as Rivers fired a midrange pass. The play­ers tan­gled as they fell to the ground but the bat­tle con­tin­ued.

John­son took off his hel­met and punched In­man, start­ing the first of three fights and skir­mishes be­tween the teams dur­ing a work­out that en­er­gized and en­ter­tained a ca­pac­ity crowd at UC Irvine.

John­son and Rams cor­ner­back Nick­ell RobeyCole­man said Rivers had been talk­ing.

“He started it,” John­son said, “and we ba­si­cally fin­ished it.”

Rivers did not speak with re­porters af­ter the work­out.

For an or­ga­ni­za­tion that has mostly ig­nored the Charg­ers’ “Fight for L.A.” slo­gan, Rams play­ers were quick to join the frays.

The ini­tial scuf­fle be­tween John­son and In­man had paused when RobeyCole­man rushed to­ward them. Robey-Cole­man shoved In­man to the ground, bring­ing other play­ers into the fight.

“Emo­tions got a lit­tle high and I had to de­fend my team­mate,” Robey-Cole­man said. “That’s part of the code . ... As a vet­eran I know bet­ter, and I know I’ve got to have my team­mates’ back no mat­ter what.”

Rams coach Sean McVay had warned play­ers be­fore prac­tice not to fight, RobeyCole­man said.

“I kind of went against it but it was for my team­mate,” said Robey-Cole­man, who was taken to the locker room to cool off but later re­turned.

Cor­ner­back E.J. Gaines was in­volved in the next two fights, emerg­ing blood­ied from the first.

McVay gath­ered his play­ers af­ter the first in­ci­dent.

“We al­ways want to be mind­ful and smart of how we do this,” McVay said of joint prac­tices, adding, “For­tu­nately, no­body got hurt as a re­sult of it and we’ll try to be mind­ful of those things mov­ing for­ward.”

The Rams and Charg­ers will play an ex­hi­bi­tion at the Coli­seum on Aug. 26.

The fights re­sulted from “friendly com­pe­ti­tion,” John­son said, adding that the Rams sec­ondary has al­ways been “feisty.”

“Where I’m from, if some­body is go­ing to ini­ti­ate it, we gonna fin­ish it,” he said. “Es­pe­cially my­self.”

John­son ac­knowl­edged that re­mov­ing his hel­met was un­usual.

“I’m from Stock­ton, man,” he said, laugh­ing. “It just came out of me, it re­ally did. I’m not go­ing to take no mess from no­body, I don’t care who it is.”

De­spite the fights, John­son de­scribed it as a pro­duc­tive work­out for the Rams de­fense.

“Philip Rivers, he’s go­ing to be a fu­ture Hall of Famer,” said John­son, who in­ter­cepted a Hail Mary at the end of a two-minute drill. “Just build­ing con­fi­dence right now. I am proud of my guys.”

Go­ing long

Quar­ter­back Jared Goff com­pleted about half of his passes dur­ing full-squad drills and strug­gled dur­ing the two-minute por­tion.

But there was a bright spot: Goff com­pleted sev­eral long passes in other drills.

“Yeah, about time right?” he said, jok­ingly.

Goff con­nected with K.D. Can­non and tight end Tyler Hig­bee for the long gains.

“Early on in camp you’re just fig­ur­ing out tim­ing some­times and just some dif­fer­ent things with guys,” he said. “But it takes time some­times.

“I think they are start­ing to come. We were start­ing to hit a few. … It was a good job by the re­ceivers of get­ting open down­field.”

Etc.

Re­ceiver Paul McRoberts made sev­eral tough catches over the mid­dle and near the side­line. … Shakeir Ryan, an un­drafted free agent from North­west­ern State, con­tin­ued an im­pres­sive camp by re­turn­ing a punt for a touch­down. … Cor­ner­back Troy Hill in­ter­cepted a pass by quar­ter­back Cardale Jones.

Pho­to­graphs by Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times

CHARG­ERS RE­CEIVER Don­trelle In­man, left, and Rams cor­ner­back Nick­ell Robey-Cole­man get into an ar­gu­ment dur­ing a joint prac­tice be­tween the teams.

RAMS QUAR­TER­BACK Jared Goff com­pleted sev­eral long passes dur­ing drills at prac­tice.

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