Depth, preparation paying off for Rams secondary
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) It doesn’t matter who is in the game, the Los Angeles Rams’ secondary keeps making plays.
That knack will be tested Sunday by the Dallas Cowboys and star wide receiver Dez Bryant but the Rams could have starting cornerback Kayvon Webster back from a shoulder injury.
Webster, who has missed the last two games, was back practicing Monday as the Rams were on the field for the first time since their dramatic 41-39 win over the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams closed out that game without another starter in the secondary, as safety LaMarcus Joyner suffered a hamstring injury.
Joyner’s absence forced Troy Hill into a larger role than expected in his first action following a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. The third-year cornerback from Oregon responded by breaking up a two-point conversion that could have tied the game with 2:13 remaining.
”First game back, made one of the biggest plays in the game, period,” cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman said. ”To see him come back and show the coaching staff that he’s still here to stay, that’s crazy.”
San Francisco wide receiver Trent Taylor acted as if he was running an out route, only to pivot back inside. Hill broke on the ball and deflected it up into the air where defensive tackle Michael Brockers intercepted it. Taylor had beaten Hill on the same route earlier in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard touchdown pass. Hill wasn’t going to let it happen again.
”I was kind of mad at the first one because our DB coach, Coach AP (Aubrey Pleasant), he was talking about it all week,” Hill said. ”They go out, they’re going to come back in. I just rushed it and, sure enough, he scored on me. The second time, as soon as he went out, I’m like, `Yeah, he’s going to come back in.’ I just jumped it after that. I wish I would have caught it, but, you know, still a good play.”
To head coach Sean McVay, it was emblematic of the Rams’ ability to bounce back. Robey-Coleman responded from a difficult showing against Washington by intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble. Wide receiver Robert Woods committed two critical penalties in the loss the previous week, but caught six passes for 108 yards against the 49ers.
Hill’s pass breakup was also a good example of how valuable studying film can be, and Robey-Coleman was looking forward to getting a head start on preparing for the Cowboys by watching their game against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night. Asked what he would be looking for, Robey-Coleman said it would come down to the clock and down-and-distance.
”That’s it,” Robey-Coleman said. ”Study the rest later. Just look at the time, look at the down and distance, it should tell you the rest if you know football.”
However, there is a balance between preparing for a player of Bryant’s caliber and losing sight of what the defense has to do regardless of the opponent.
”Can’t let that get too big for us cause that’s when we are going to come out and start messing up,” Hill said.
”We’re accepting the challenge,” Robey-Coleman said. ”We know they are a great team. We just got to go out there, play our defense, be on top of our details and be on top of our communication calls so that we can go out there and play the best game we can play.”
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