Rivers’ words serve to rile up the defense
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.”
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.”
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.
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.