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Los Angeles Rams Practice
Feb. 9, 2022
By Jarrett Bell, USA Today Sports
Pro Football Writers of America
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.
Cincinnati Bengals Practice
Feb. 9, 2022
By Nicki Jhabvala, The Washington Post
Pro Football Writers of America
LOS ANGELES — The Cincinnati Bengals traded in an ice storm and frigid temperature for 80-degree weather and clear skies in Los Angeles. On Wednesday afternoon, the team held its first of three Super Bowl practices at Drake Stadium, on the campus of UCLA.
After an earlier 35-minute walkthrough and break for lunch, the team took the field shortly after 1:30 for its non-padded workout and began with stretches, followed by a special teams period, individual work, team periods and then field goals to close it out.
Tight end C.J. Uzomah, still recovering from a knee injury he suffered in the first half of the Bengals’ AFC Championship win in Kansas City, participated in the team stretch, then headed to the far end of the field to work with a trainer. He was formally listed as a non-participant, as Coach Zac Taylor indicated he would be in his video conference with reporters prior to practice.
Taylor said after the workout that Uzomah looks “positive” and is expected to do more Thursday.
“Considering where he was when he fell on the turf last Sunday to where he is now, [I’m] really optimistic about how it’s going,” Taylor said. “We’ll continue to see him in action these next two days, but optimistic.”
Offensive guard Jackson Carman was limited because of a back injury. Taylor said the team is “still kind of protecting him” but he’s hopeful Carman will be able to participate more Thursday.
Receiver Stanley Morgan (hamstring), defensive end Cam Sample (groin) and defensive tackle Josh Tupou (knee) were full participants.
Taylor said the team has maintained the same practice schedule it would normally have in Cincinnati, with walkthroughs preceding practices. The team hotel is a short walk to Drake Stadium, providing a seamless, and efficient, transition from meetings to the field.
“This is like our stadium,” Taylor said. “We walk right out of our meeting rooms and we’re at the practice field, so that part has been really good and helps us keep our schedule as a normal routine.”
Taylor added that the three-hour time difference in L.A. has also benefited the team, as noted by tempo and energy of practice.
“It was really good,” he said. “The guys were really fresh and ready to go.”
If there was any necessary adjustment, it was the heat and beating sun.
“Just getting hydrated the best we can,” Taylor said.
Team president Mike Brown and executive vice president Katie Blackburn watched the practice from the track encircling the field. The Bengals also brought along its full practice squad and injured players.
Practice-squad tight end Mason Schreck and offensive tackle Riley Reiff, both on reserve lists with ankle injuries, watched practice wearing walking boots and seated in motorized scooters.
“Everybody is a piece of this, whether you were on the practice squad all year, whether you were Riley Reiff and got hurt in the San Fran game in December,” Taylor said. “They’ve all gotten us to this point, whether it shows up on the stat sheet or not, so we want to make sure everybody’s here enjoying this experience. They’re all a part of us getting here.”
The Bengals have two more workouts at Drake Stadium, on Thursday and Friday, then a walkthrough Saturday before heading to SoFi Stadium for team photos.