Prac­tice can­celed as fires rage

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

A day af­ter cop­ing with the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of a mass shoot­ing that oc­curred not far from their Thou­sand Oaks train­ing fa­cil­ity, the Rams on Fri­day can­celed prac­tice to al­low play­ers, coaches and staff to deal with evac­u­a­tions caused by wild­fires in Ven­tura and Los An­ge­les coun­ties.

“We just felt like, most im­por­tantly, was for the guys to be with their fam­i­lies, their wives, their kids and kind of be that sup­port struc­ture and do things the right way and not have them come in, be to­tally dis­tracted, like I know I would be if I was in their role,” coach Sean McVay said dur­ing a tele­con­fer­ence.

Por­tions of Thou­sand Oaks, nearby Westlake Vil­lage, Cal­abasas and Mal­ibu were among the areas un­der manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­ders Thurs­day night and Fri­day be­cause of fires. About 45 peo­ple in the Rams or­ga­ni­za­tion, in­clud­ing about 20 play­ers and coaches, were dis­placed.

“To my knowl­edge, no­body’s house has ac­tu­ally caught fire or any­thing like that,” said McVay, work­ing Fri­day from his San Fer­nando Val­ley home.

“It’s still a scary thing and ex­tremely un­for­tu­nate that they’re hav­ing to go through this.”

The Rams are pre­par­ing for Sun­day’s NFC West game against the Seat­tle Sea­hawks at the Coli­seum.

The Rams will have morn­ing meet­ings at a Los An­ge­les ho­tel Sat­ur­day and then have a short prac­tice at USC, McVay said. He said the for­mat was sim­i­lar in some ways to their ap­proach for a Week 4 Thurs­day night game against the Min­nesota Vik­ings.

The Rams played the Sea­hawks on Oct. 7, so McVay said fa­mil­iar­ity with the op­po­nent also worked in the Rams’ fa­vor.

“It hasn’t been too long,” he said.

McVay said he went to bed Thurs­day unaware that so many play­ers and coaches would be evac­u­ated. He checked his phone in the wee hours of Fri­day morn­ing and re­al­ized what was de­vel­op­ing when he saw de­fen­sive line coach Bill John­son and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Wade Phillips on a coaches’ textmes­sage chain at 3 a.m.

“I said, ‘There’s some­thing go­ing on be­cause those guys are prob­a­bly usu­ally saw­ing logs at that time,’ ” McVay said. “So, when they had to leave their places, I knew there was a chance that some things were not go­ing to work out in our fa­vor.”

McVay, though, ex­pressed con­fi­dence that his team would be ready for the Sea­hawks.

“It’ll be a seam­less ad­just­ment and we’ll be ready to go on Sun­day,” he said.

Fa­mil­iar face

In the years be­fore he left USC to coach the Sea­hawks, Pete Car­roll made a re­cruit­ing stop in Car­son to visit Robert Woods at his fam­ily’s home.

The Tro­jans had pro­duced out­stand­ing col­lege re­ceivers such as Mike Wil­liams and Steve Smith.

“I thought he could be the most com­plete guy that we had re­cruited,” Car­roll said of Woods this week.

Woods also re­called the visit.

“The dream was to go to col­lege and play for Pete Car­roll and con­tinue the tra­di­tion,” Woods said. “When he left, I was like up in the air on what schools, and opened up my mind for prob­a­bly about an hour.”

Woods signed with USC and be­came an All-Amer­i­can.

This sea­son, his sixth in the NFL, Woods has 51 re­cep­tions for 743 yards and three touch­downs.

“He does ev­ery­thing,” Car­roll said. “He plays with great tenac­ity, he’s tough, he’s got speed to get down the field, he can make tough plays, he can get open in small areas.

“He is a re­ally, re­ally good all-around foot­ball player. He’s hav­ing a great ca­reer.”

Wally Skalij Los An­ge­les Times

SEAN McVAY can­celed Fri­day’s prac­tice so Rams play­ers and coaches af­fected by lo­cal wild­fires could fo­cus on tak­ing care of their fam­i­lies and prop­erty.

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