What We Learned  

 

What we learned: Rams re-establishing L.A. foothold

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- It's starting to sink in now. The Rams have come home.

Around the NFL was on hand Friday as players and coaches gathered at the Manhattan Beach Marriott for a two-hour orientation meeting to unpack the task at hand: Shipping an NFL franchise -- and its hundreds of employees -- from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

"There's a lot of people in our organization working very, very hard to make this come true," coach Jeff Fisher told reporters. "Our focus when the deal was done was to take care of the players. That's priority No. 1, to make sure they can get set up."

Fisher said roughly 80 percent of the roster attended Friday's gathering, which was less about Xs and Os and more about finding living arrangements with a manageable drive to work through L.A.'s infamous auto sprawl.

"One of the things we discussed with the players was the commute," Fisher said. "Very, very important consideration. We have guys that are going to come to work early, especially once the season starts."

The team still isn't certain where they'll set up shop, but Fisher said the Rams are scouting UC-Irvine for training camp and eyeing the Thousand Oaks area for a temporary in-season facility.

With all of this in mind, it wasn't surprising to see an additional element on hand as we poured from the news conference into the hotel's plush lobby: Real estate agents.

It's going to be a fascinating offseason for Fisher and his gaggle of Rams.

Here's what else we learned:

1. The Rams are selling their new West Coast faithful on a roster built around a pounding ground game and a smothering defense led by quarterback-nightmare Aaron Donald. His teammate, newly anointed middle linebacker Alec Ogletree, says the Rams have run out of reasons to fall short in the battle-tested NFC West.

"There's nothing missing," Ogletree said. "It's just more that everybody has to have the mind-set to go and do it. We don't have an excuse to be under .500 any more. We've lost enough games and I feel like it's time for us to step up to the plate here and be a top team in the league ... and be a team over .500. Anything less than that is unacceptable."

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2. We remain suspicious of the Rams touting Case Keenum as a clear-cut NFL starter, but the young quarterback exuded confidence during Friday's meeting with the media. "It's the first time that I've had a coach believe in me through the offseason like this," Keenum told Around the NFL. "So, I'm excited about the position that I'm in and the position the team is in. I think we're poised to make that next step and be a playoff contender."

The undrafted Keenum also made it clear he plans to keep the job, saying: "I want to be the leader this team needs me to be and the leader that I know how to be ... and I hope the guys look at me like that."

3. Coolest encounter of the day: Watching Hall of Fame runner Eric Dickerson talk shop with backfield sensation Todd Gurley. Fellow Canton entry and Rams great Jackie Slater was also on hand to counsel the players about life in Los Angeles.

For Slater, watching the Rams return home is special: "It means that the team I played on is going to be playing in Southern California and I'll get to watch them and pull for them again," he told us. "I played quite a bit of football wearing those colors and it's hard not to be loyal and supportive and all of that. Now that they're back, it's going to be easier."

Slater, though, knows that L.A. sports fans can be a fickle beast, saying: "There are going to be a lot of people coming to watch them -- expecting a lot out of them. And they've got some work to do to get that done. ... I just hope and pray that the enthusiasm that we're experiencing now is still there three years from now when they go into that new stadium."

4. Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson has accepted the team's franchise tender, his agent told NFL Media's Steve Wyche. The tender, under official 2016 salary-cap numbers, is worth $13.952 million.

5. Will the Rams -- like the Lakers -- draw their own pool of celebrity superfans? Too early to tell, but Donald was quick to choose which icon he hoped to see in the stands at September's home opener: "I would say Kobe (Bryant). Just because he's one of the best ever to play ... and it would be cool to see him at a game."

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