You had questions after the Rams beat the Chargers 29-22 on Saturday night and Gary Klein and Jeff Miller have some answers. Questions have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Do the Rams have enough on the edge defensively after losing Von Miller, or will they have to make a midseason acquisition like Miller or Dante Fowler?
Michael Stettiner, Lexington, Mass.
Gary Klein: Justin Hollins, Terrell Lewis and Obo Okoronkwo played in rotation as a edge rushers opposite Leonard Floyd last season — and the Rams were 7-1 when they traded for Miller.
Miller, of course, is a big loss, but Hollins and Lewis are back this season, with Chris Garrett and rookie Daniel Hardy possibly in the mix for a role.
I would expect the Rams to do what they did last season: Watch how it develops and, if there is a need or a chance to acquire another impact player, make a move at or near the trade deadline.
I watched the Chargers–Rams game Saturday night. An issue I have with the Chargers defensive backs is that when the ball is in the air and throwing to a Ram wide receiver they have their backs to the ball and they DO NOT TURN AROUND to the ball to defend the ball to break up the play or to possibly get an interception. Instead, the DB’s backs are to the ball and often they grab the receiver or bump into the WR, which results in pass interference.
When I was playing we had “the buddy system,” where if the ball was in the air to the receiver we had one of the safeties or another DB yell at the DB who was covering the receiver who the QB was throwing to yell to DB “#23 ball is in the air coming your way. TURN AROUND and make a play on the ball.” By doing this, our pass interference calls went way down and our interception percentage when way up.
Larry Thaler, Marina del Rey
Jeff Miller: I’m guessing the player you’re mainly talking about is Deane Leonard, who struggled finishing in coverage against the Rams. I can assure you the Chargers didn’t coach him to try to defend the pass with his back to the quarterback. The encouraging thing was he was in the proper position otherwise, showing an ability to stick with the receiver.
Leonard’s issue is not uncommon for a DB trying to transition into the NFL. Something else to remember is he was a seventh-round draft pick and this was his first NFL-ish action. Let’s see if he shows improvement Saturday against Dallas.
Is an OBJ return to the Rams later this season a legit possibility or just a lot of talk?
Terence Stephenson, Burbank
Klein: Odell Beckham Jr. helped the Rams win the Super Bowl and he loves L.A.
So, a return to the Rams — where he knows the system, can run plays designed by Sean McVay and catch passes from Matthew Stafford — is a legit possibility.
Beckham also is smart.
I would guess that he waits until midseason, does a workout that shows he’s recovered fully from knee surgery and then fields offers from the Rams and other Super Bowl contenders.
The Rams would have to be considered frontrunners in the OBJ chase. But what if Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes picks up the phone and says, “Hey, come help me win a Super Bowl.”
It does not seem likely that any team would invest heavily with a rich multiyear deal. But all Beckham needs is a half-season chance to show he’s physically sound. If he does that, he will cash in on a receivers market that was reset this past offseason.
This is a general NFL question: In the NFL some good players always end up on the practice squad. If another team claims a player on the practice squad, does the player have the option to stay on the practice squad of his current team?
Dale Onyon, Jamestown, Ky.
Klein: Unlike players claimed off waivers, practice squad players do have the option to stay with their current team.
And some make that decision, especially if their current team sweetens their deal or they see better long-term prospects with that team.
But the financial incentive to join an active roster is substantial.
Players claimed by another team off the practice squad are guaranteed a roster spot and three game checks, regardless of whether they stay with that team for that long. They also accrue service time toward a pension and other benefits.
This season, practice squad players with two years or fewer accrued seasons will earn $11,500 per week, veterans $15,400. The minimum salary for players on a roster is $705,000, so if my math is correct that translates to $41,470 per game.
What is it with the L.A. Times being so biased towards the Rams? The game was absolutely close until the last what, 30 seconds, when a fumble occurred. Seems like Mr. Klein’s article, the only article about yesterday’s game until about an hour ago I might add, is dumping on the Chargers?
And it was a home game for the Chargers. Explain.
Tom Allen, Los Angeles
Miller: All I can tell you is I wrote 825 words on the Chargers and sent the story in at halftime. I’m not sure what happened after that but, rest assured, there was an L.A. Times-generated Chargers story about the game floating around out there. I also wrote 1,200 words after the game in another Chargers story that posted on our website early the next morning. I’ll be doing the same this weekend when the Chargers face the Cowboys.
Klein: Mr. Klein covers the Rams, so his report from the Chargers’ 29-22 victory over the Rams focused on observations about the Rams. And there was no dumping on the Chargers.
Please see Jeff Miller’s fine story on the Chargers.
Will Matthew Stafford turn out like Todd Gurley did and have a great season and then become nonfunctional due to an injury?
Josh Albrektson, South Pasadena
Klein: That is a concern for the Rams, but a quarterback’s elbow and a running back’s knee are different.
Gurley was subject to pain every step that he took, not to mention the hard cuts he had to make on the field and the violent physical contact he absorbed nearly every play.
Stafford, as a quarterback, is more protected. As a 14th-year pro who spent 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, he knows how to manage and play through pain.
Rams special teams captain was Johnny Hekker. Since he’s gone, who is filling that role now?
Sue Chrismer, Chapin
Klein: The Rams have not selected captains.
I would not be surprised if kicker Matt Gay or possibly Nick Scott serves in that role. The Rams drafted Scott as a special teams prospect but his special teams responsibilities have been reduced because he has developed into a dependable safety.
How much will RB2 be involved in this Chargers offensive? Giving Austin Ekeler a break.
@urb5nlove via Twitter
Miller: The Chargers would love to involve a second running back plenty in their offense. Ekeler has talked openly the past two years about needing the help, especially as the season drags into December. What the Chargers need is for one of their backups to prove capable both as a runner and as a receiver. Ekeler has been targeted on average more than six times per game over the past three seasons. His backup will need to be able to offer that sort of threat, as well.
The Chargers’ talented free agent rookie pickup, Andrew Trainer, 6 feet 7 tackle, 320 pounds, quick feet, All-American from William & Mary, was released last week for medical reasons, and an injury settlement was reached.
What was the injury? How much was the settlement? I understand if no other teams claim him off of waivers, he remains a Charger? Is that right? What happens then?
Hugh Terrell, San Diego
Miller: From what I was able to gather, Andrew Trainer has a shoulder injury. I have no idea what his injury settlement was. He is still with the team recovering. I also don’t know what kind of timeline he’s in for being healthy again.