New view: Matthew Stafford settling in with Rams

Wed Jun 9 7:13pm ET
By DAN GREENSPAN
Associated Press

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford passes during an NFL football practice Friday, June 4, 2021, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Los Angeles Rams' Matthew Stafford talks with head coach Sean McVay after an NFL football practice in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Thursday, May 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)


THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) When the Los Angeles Rams wrap up their three-day mandatory minicamp by practicing at SoFi Stadium on Thursday, it will be the first chance for fans to see them live at the multi-billion dollar facility.

While they get a peek at where their seats will be for the upcoming season or scout out concession stands, Matthew Stafford will be looking for the location of the play clock and game clock, all part of the quarterback's continuing adjustment after being dealt from Detroit to Los Angeles in a trade that was agreed to in January and became official in March.

''It's definitely a change of scenery for me,'' Stafford said Wednesday.

Stafford hopes coming to the Rams will bring a different vantage point of the playoffs. He took the Lions to three postseason berths but lost in the Wild Card round each time. With the Rams still holding Super Bowl aspirations two seasons removed from their title game loss to New England, the ideal scenario for both parties would be playing for a championship on their home field next February.

But those lofty aims are not important to Stafford right now. His focus is on understanding everything about his new setting, from getting coach Sean McVay's offense down to refining timing with his receivers.

Stafford likes how the transition has gone so far.

''I definitely have learned quite a bit,'' Stafford said. ''This is a complex offense just like all of them are, and just being able to kind of forget what I've learned in the past and move forward with the terminology and the new scheme is something that's always a challenge, no matter if you're moving cities and states and teams and all that kind of stuff or moving coordinators in the same team. So I've been through it before.''

The biggest adjustment for Stafford might be in how he distributes targets in the passing game. In Detroit, he tended to feature a big-bodied receiver when he had Calvin Johnson early on in his career and Kenny Golladay in recent years.

However, the Rams lack an option capable of making contested catches on a regular basis. Stafford's new receiving corps is built around crafty players in Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson and speedy threats in DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell.

Stafford doesn't think it will be a challenge adjusting to how they play.

''You're just trying to see guys, feel where they're going and put it in a good spot,'' Stafford said. ''Each guy kind of has their own strength when it comes to where they're able to catch the ball away from their body or not. That's things you kind of get used to in practice and things like that, but for me as a quarterback I'm trying to out them all on the money and just let those guys do their job as easy as they possibly can.''

During the six-week break before training camp opens on July 27, Stafford plans to hold workouts with his wideouts to continue building a rapport with them.

Jefferson expects those sessions will be helpful, but the second-year receiver is pleased with the connection Stafford has already built with the group.

''I think we're all comfortable with him,'' Jefferson said. ''He's getting more comfortable with us, and I think that's coming with timing and throwing over and over again.''

With an eye towards postseason success, Stafford said he will do whatever it takes to be ready.

''I know I have a big challenge in front of me to make sure that I'm leading this team as best as I possibly can,'' Stafford said. ''All they want from me is to play at a high level and do things the right way so that's what I'm going to try and do, but it's definitely a big challenge and something I'm looking forward to.''

Top Headlines
The Paur Report

2021 Champion's Draft

Player Notes
Joe Tryon Jun 22 12:50pm ET

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed first-round outside linebacker Joe Tryon to his four-year rookie contract on Tuesday. Tryon was taken 32nd overall in the first round of this year's NFL draft out of the University of Washington. He opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns around COVID-19, but he managed to record eight sacks in college in 2019. Depending on how ready Tryon is for the NFL after taking a year off, he's an exciting pass-rusher off the edge that could become an impact player right away for an improving Buccaneers defense. He has the size and strength to be a full-time pass-rusher, but he also has the technique to drop into coverage if asked to do so. If not for the fact that he didn't play at all in 2020, he might've been long gone at pick No. 32.

From RotoBaller

Chris Evans Jun 22 12:20pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has been impressed with rookie running back Chris Evans so far this offseason. "He's got the most natural hands for a running back that I've ever been around," Callahan said. Evans was selected with the 202nd overall pick in this year's NFL draft out of Michigan. While the 23-year-old has the physical skills, he doesn't have a ton of experience. He probably won't be anything more than a late-round flier in much deeper fantasy leagues, but he could be dangerous in this offense eventually, especially in point-per-reception formats. Evans is obviously a much more attractive dynasty/keeper piece, but if Joe Mixon misses extended time with injury, there's definitely a path for Evans to find some relevant single-year appeal in a rising Bengals offense.

From RotoBaller

Golden Tate Jun 22 12:10pm ET

Free-agent wide receiver Golden Tate remains available on the open market after being released by the New York Giants following two disappointing seasons. The 32-year-old hasn't received much interest, but he wants to continue playing and mentioned the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Rams as three teams he'd be interested in joining. Tate wouldn't mind reuniting with quarterback Matthew Stafford in LA after enjoying three 1,000-yard seasons with Stafford in Detroit. The veteran wideout caught just 35 of 53 targets for 388 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games (four starts) for New York in 2020. He was benched at one point and dealt with a calf injury, so Tate will have to prove he's worth a spot on fantasy rosters again if he signs with a new team.

From RotoBaller

Frank Clark Jun 22 12:00am ET

Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark was arrested in Los Angeles on Sunday after police saw a submachine gun in his car. Officers noticed a bag with an Uzi sticking out in plain sight in the car, and Clark was then arrested on suspicion of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. He was booked into an LA county jail and released Monday on $35,000 bond. "We are aware of the matter, which will be reviewed under the NFL's personal conduct policy," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. The 28-year-old pass-rusher spent the first four seasons of his career with the Seattle Seahawks before being traded to the Chiefs in 2019. Clark has been a Pro Bowler each of the last two years with KC, so any suspension would be bad news for the Chiefs defense. He has 49 sacks in 91 career games, including 14 total in the last two seasons.

From RotoBaller

Jaylen Twyman Jun 21 11:40pm ET

Minnesota Vikings rookie defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman was shot four times on Monday while visiting an aunt in Washington D.C. "Wrong place, wrong time," said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. "In talking to him today, he's going to be OK - that's all that matters. We're thankful he's OK. He will make a full recovery." The 21-year-old suffered superficial exit wounds and will not need to have surgery. The Vikings selected Twyman with the 199th overall pick back in May. He was the first interior defensive lineman to lead Pittsburgh in sacks when he had 10.5 in 2019 since Aaron Donald achieved the feat six years earlier. Twyman opted out of the 2020 season in college due to concerns over COVID-19.

From RotoBaller

Frank Clark Jun 21 7:53pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark was reportedly arrested for felony possession of a concealed firearm in a vehicle Sunday, June 20. He was released on bond Monday, June 21.

From TheHuddle

Zaven Collins Jun 21 7:10pm ET

Arizona Cardinals rookie linebacker Zaven Collins, who was the No. 16 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, was arrested on Sunday for excessive speed and reckless driving, according to the Scottsdale Police Department. The 22-year-old was observed going 76 mph in a 35-mph zone in Scottsdale, Ariz. Collins signed his fully guaranteed four-year rookie deal with Arizona on June 8 and is expected to start right away in 2021. The All-American from Tulsa is a big and physical presence in the middle of the field. Despite his size, he moves smoothly and is great in zone coverage. Although he shouldn't be considered a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, Collins has excellent closing speed and change-of-direction ability. It's not a great start to his rookie campaign, but Collins should pair nicely with last year's first-rounder, Isaiah Simmons.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Jun 21 1:10pm ET

Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Tyron Smith (neck), Zack Martin (calf, concussion) and La'el Collins (hip) didn't do much on-field work during spring practices, but all three are expected to be full participants when training camp begins at the end of July. The trio combined to miss 36 games in a lost 2020 season. The Cowboys were forced to use 13 different offensive line combinations a year ago without Smith, Martin and Collins. Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick also retired. Smith hasn't played a full season since 2015, but he said his injury is no longer something he's worried about. Collins said he's dropped around 10 pounds and is moving around fine. With these three linemen back healthy, Dallas' offensive line has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL, which is obviously great news for running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott.

From RotoBaller

Justin Herbert Jun 21 12:50pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020, said the team's new offense under coordinator Joe Lombardi puts a lot more on his plate. "It's pretty similar. I think there are just more personnel [groups], more formations and a lot more put on the quarterback with going up to the line of scrimmage," Herbert said. The sky is the limit for Herbert, but it's not easy for a young signal-caller to have to learn a whole new offense in just his second season. It might be a lot to expect Herbert to make another big jump in Year 2 after throwing 31 touchdowns in 2020. The 23-year-old is one of the best young QBs to own in dynasty/keeper leagues, but he should be more of a low-end QB1 target in single-year leagues in 2021.

From RotoBaller

Sammy Watkins Jun 21 12:33pm ET

Baltimore Ravens WR Sammy Watkins was the best receiver at the team's minicamp as he made several contested grabs. QB Lamar Jackson said it's fun to throw to Watkins.

Fantasy Spin: Watkins hasn't been able to stay healthy and has one 1,000-yard season in his seven-year career. He could still be worth a WR4/5 flyer, but the upside isn't there for much more.

From TheHuddle

Matthew Stafford Jun 21 12:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay couldn't be more happy with the team's new quarterback, Matthew Stafford. "Bro, this dude's a bad MF-er," McVay said, laughing. "Whatever people say about him, as good as it can be, he's even better than advertised. It makes sense to him. The guy's ability to see the game, his ability to draw on his experiences, the feel that he has, it's pretty special and unique. And man, his feel for people, his authentic way of connecting with his teammates, his coaches, this guy, it's great being around him." The 33-year-old was often undervalued while with the Detroit Lions, but now he has higher expectations with a much better supporting cast around him. Health is a concern, but Stafford is an excellent selection as a QB1 with upside after the bigger names at the position come off the board.

From RotoBaller

C.J. Mosley Jun 21 12:23pm ET

New York Jets LB C.J. Mosley, who opted out last season and played two partial games in 2019 due to injury, has looked slimmer and quicker in practices this offseason.

From TheHuddle

Keelan Cole Jun 20 8:33pm ET

New York Jets WR Keelan Cole 'will be in the wide receiver rotation' following an impressive minicamp, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com.

From TheHuddle

Jamal Agnew Jun 20 7:43pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Jamal Agnew will likely handle both kick and punt return duties this season, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com.

From TheHuddle

Todd Gurley Jun 20 5:53pm ET

Free-agent RB Todd Gurley (Falcons) would be the No. 3 running back if he signs with the Detroit Lions behind RBs D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, according to the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett

From TheHuddle

Rashard Higgins Jun 20 4:43pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Rashard Higgins (undisclosed) missed the last two days of minicamp because of a undisclosed injury. The injury is considered minor.

From TheHuddle

Tre'Quan Smith Jun 20 2:33pm ET

New Orleans Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith has been working out with QB Jameis Winston on a regular basis this offseason.

Fantasy Spin: Smith is in line for a bigger role this season and likely will be one of the starting receivers for the Saints. He has played well at times over the last few years and can be a deep threat option in the passing game. Fantasy players can consider him a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver.

From TheHuddle

Allen Robinson Jun 20 2:13pm ET

Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson said he is open to playing on the one-year franchise tag this season. He said there is no news regarding a long-term contract with the Bears.

Fantasy Spin: Robinson has been one of the top receivers in the NFL over the last few seasons and will continue to be the main focus in the passing game for Chicago. He is a weekly must-start option in all fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Stephen Gostkowski Jun 20 1:53pm ET

Free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski (Titans) is interested in continuing his career.

From TheHuddle