THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Los Angeles Rams installed the final elements of their game plan for Super Bowl LVI during an extended walk-through practice on Wednesday at their team headquarters on the campus of California Lutheran University.
“Today kind of represented the finality of it,” Rams coach Sean McVay said after the session, which lasted one hour and 40 minutes. “We can tweak and adjust as we go, but they did a good job of getting ahead of stuff. Guys felt really good. We ran through all the different situations that can come up…and then the next couple of days we’ll just be tightening up.”
McVay typically had chalk-talk discussions with quarterback Matthew Stafford between the plays in team drills that were run at half-speed. The Aaron Donald-led defense worked on an adjacent field.
In many ways, the session was typical for the latter part of the season, McVay said.
In another sense, the Rams have been forced to adjust to conditions that accompanied temperatures that topped 80 degrees beneath the surrounding foothills. Warm winds were stiff and constant during Wednesday’s non-padded practice, with gusts of 22 miles per hour.
The winds will be stronger on Thursday, projected in the 30-miles-an-hour range. That forecast prompted McVay to move Thursday’s practice – the most intense session of the week – to the Rose Bowl. The team will bus to Pasadena after conducting morning meetings.
The difference in eight miles an hour gust, you can’t throw and catch,” McVay said. “It would be so hard. If we were going to play the game in those conditions, that would be one thing.”
Rather than wind, the Rams can anticipate their matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium as perhaps the warmest game in Super Bowl history with temperatures forecast for the mid-80s.
On the injury front, McVay noted the progress of running back Darrell Henderson, Jr. and right tackle Joe Noteboom. Henderson took a healthy share of snaps with the first unit during the team drills.
“I think Darrell’s going to go,” said McVay. Henderson has nursed a knee injury for more than a month. “So, you’ll have Cam (Akers), Darrell and Sony (Michel). You’ll be able to see a good, three-back rotation, based on how the game unfolds. The situations that arise will dictate which one you’re seeing. Like anything else, if we’re able to get into a rhythm running it, we’re going to go with the hot hand.”
Noteboom, rehabbing from a strained pectoral muscle, spent part of the practice working on conditioning with an athletic trainer before finishing with team drills. McVay is still unsure of his status for Sunday.
“We’ll see, all the way up to it,” he said. “If there’s a chance that he can be one and done, pulling his pec, we’ll go with Alaric Jackson … We can’t afford to waste a spot.”
The Super Bowl broadcast team from NBC – play-by-play man Al Michaels, analyst Cris Collinsworth and sideline reporter Michele Tafoya – was on hand to observe its lone practice of the week.
(Thanks to the pro Football Writers of America and pool reporter Jarrett Bell of USA Today Sports)