Although considered to be voluntary workouts, players that skip their team’s early offseason programs are often criticized in the media. With the Los Angeles Rams seemingly encountering a similar issue, both cornerback Marcus Peters and pass rusher Dante Fowler have remained absent from the start of the team’s offseason activities.
The defending NFC champions opened their offseason program on Monday, without a pair of key defensive players present.
Coach Sean McVay acknowledged to reporters that linebacker Dante Fowler and cornerback Marcus Peters did not attend. McVay didn’t fault them for being absent, pointing out that the workouts are “voluntary” and that they “had communicated well ahead of time.”
“Certainly, it is voluntary and we understand that,” McVay said. “But as long as we just know they’re in a good place or what’s going on with them. . . . [Fowler and Peters will] be here once they get some of those things taken care of that they had to do.”
McVay also expressed hope that cornerback Troy Hill and linebacker Cory Littleton, both unsigned restricted free agents, will soon join the team.
“I think once they come in, you’d like to be able to get those guys to sign,” McVay said. “That’s something that we’re navigating through right now. Cory was the other guy that he communicated to us that he had something going on. We don’t expect anything to be different. Those are guys that we hope to be on our team and looking forward to working with.”
For a team that is known for its offense, the L.A. defense also has significance. After all, it held the Patriots to a mere 13 points in Super Bowl LIII, a thin silver lining in what ultimately was a 10-point loss.
Justis Mosqueda recently released an article for Bleacher Report where he outlines one offseason move every NFL team could regret. The transaction Justis chose for the Los Angeles Rams was re-signing edge Dante Fowler Jr to a one-year $12m contract that could reach $14m depending on incentives:
The Los Angeles Rams came close to winning their first Super Bowl since 1999 last season, though Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots ruined the party, beating them 13-3.
But coming into the 2019 campaign, expectations remain high.
The core of the Rams remains intact under head coach Sean McVay, led by quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley and arguably the best player in all of football, defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Gone are Mark Barron, John Sullivan, Rodger Saffold, Ndamukong Suh and LaMarcus Joyner. In are Eric Weddle, Blake Bortles as the backup quarterback and Clay Matthews. Dante Fowler Jr. re-signed, while the team will get star wide receiver Cooper Kupp back from injury, giving them a dynamic trio at wide receiver alongside Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks.
While his teammates in EDGE Rusher Rashean Gary and linebacker Devin Bush are more highly touted for their potential, it should be mentioned that Winovich actually put up the statistics, as he led the team with 17 tackles for loss in his senior season. His 109 pressures in his final two seasons ranks fourth in the NCAA, according to Pro Football Focus.
While those numbers are all well and good, Winovich’s draft stock was raised recently due to his impressive combine numbers, including a 4.59 second 40-yard-dash with a 10-second split of 1.57, which is just .01 seconds slower than former top-5 picks such as Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah, Dante Fowler Jr., and Dion Jordan.
Perhaps the most impressive stat Winovich put up at the combine was his 20-yard-shuttle (4.11 sec) and 3-cone-drill (6.94 sec), which both place in 90th percentile of those respective categories among these years prospect. Those specific numbers are very encouraging when compared to other NFL legends, as The Ringer’s Robert Mays covered last week:
As the Rams prepare for the NFL draft, The Times will examine their roster. Part 1 of 8: Linebackers.
Seeking an edge-rushing presence, the Rams made a savvy trade-deadline deal for Dante Fowler last season.
The former first-round draft pick helped the Rams make a Super Bowl run, and — after assessing the market — the franchise signed the pending free agent to a one-year, $12-million contract.
They signed veteran linebacker Clay Matthews, attracting him with a winning culture and the chance to return to Southern California. The six-time Pro Bowl player, along with Fowler and third-year pro Samson Ebukam, are expected to provide the Rams with formidable threats while flanking star tackle Aaron Donald.
Ebukam, a starter in 2018, had an offseason knee procedure. He will be brought along slowly during offseason workouts in hopes he will be ready for training camp.
“You feel good with Dante, Clay and Samson,” coach Sean McVay said. “Samson’s history of being able to play both sides gives us some flexibility that we really like.”