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Health & Spirit

Rams have their health, and a shot at their first playoff berth since 2004

Lindsey Thiry, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Health & Fitness

Scott relays information to McVay, who adjusts the practice plan accordingly.

"The big thing with us is guys who can participate but they're still a little injured," Scott says. "How do you monitor them? How do you modify them? Because you still want them to get their looks but you also want to be very careful not to re-aggravate injuries."

Players wear a Zebra Technologies chip in their jersey during practice, the same device the NFL uses during games to track their movements.

The radio-frequency identification device provides real-time feedback and measures speed, including acceleration and deceleration, and distance covered. Recently, the device clocked three Rams players running faster than 20 mph during a game.

"We measure a lot," Scott says, adding, "Ten years ago it was our gut. 'The team feels like they're slow.' Now we can confirm our gut with true data."

Individual practice plans are altered based on the analytics and a player's feedback. Players are pulled out of practice when they reach a prescribed workload.

"It's all pre-communicated," Rath says. "We all know that going in, the position coach knows that, so we're all on the same page and then there's no issue."

Veteran players, including Whitworth, center John Sullivan and linebacker Connor Barwin, rest during Wednesday and Thursday practices.

Receiver Sammy Watkins, prone to injuries during three seasons in Buffalo, says he's never felt healthier this late in a season.

Rath and Scott met with Watkins when he arrived at training camp in August to review his training and injury history.

"I've never been around a program that honestly cares about your legs, your body and correcting your movements," Watkins says.

 

Scott is cautious not to reveal strategy, but emphasizes that players are educated about recovery plans that suit their body, position and any special needs.

Six games remain in the regular season. There's no guarantee each injured starter will return, or that every starter will be available as the Rams attempt a run to the playoffs.

Injuries are inevitable. But so far the Rams are executing their plan to avoid them.

Etc.

Defensive lineman Aaron Donald was limited because of illness but is expected to play Sunday. Running back Lance Dunbar (knee) was limited and is questionable. If Dunbar is not available, rookie running back Justin Davis would be asked to step up, McVay said. Davis, who signed as an undrafted free agent from USC, had one carry for one yard in the opener against Indianapolis. He has been active for only two games ... . Quarterback Jared Goff faced the Saints last season in his second game as the starter. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns, with an interception, in a 49-21 loss. McVay studied that tape when he was hired by the Rams in January. Among other plays, Goff passed for a touchdown against a maximum blitz. "Those are the things that you're encouraged about," McVay said, "is his ability to change his arm angle, make all the throws, but then also the toughness to stand in there, not watch the rush, keep your eyes down the field and deliver the ball in the face of pressure."

(Staff writer Gary Klein contributed to this report.)

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