THOUSAND OAKS — Rams coach Sean McVay has noticed the amount of preseason praise the Buffalo Bills have received from the pundits. It’s good bulletin board material for McVay to use on his players after winning the Super Bowl and before being reminded of it with a championship banner ceremony minutes before opening the 2022 regular season against the popular Bills.
But McVay didn’t mention the Bills’ praise to say: Hey, they forget about us. It was his genuine way of saying the Bills are going to be very good this season and the Rams will have their hands full against star quarterback Josh Allen on Thursday night at SoFi Stadium.
“It’s an excellent team,” McVay said Friday after the “Monday practice” of Week 1. “There’s a reason why you see a lot of the outside narratives have them as one of the best teams in the NFL and I think that’s earned based on the consistency that they’ve played with. They’ve got great players, great coaches. They’ve added some nice pieces on both sides of the football. They’re sound in (special) teams.”
The Bills are stacked with Allen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs and outside linebacker Von Miller, but the Rams also have plenty of star power, evident from the list of captains they announced Friday.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, right tackle Rob Havenstein, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, linebacker Bobby Wagner and cornerback Jalen Ramsey were voted by their teammates as captains for the 2022 season. Wagner, who built a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career with the Seattle Seahawks, earned the honor in his first season with the Rams.
“Even though it is his first year, he’s earned that respect throughout the course of his career with the way he’s handled himself,” McVay said of Wagner. “But the way he came in, he had humility, but had a great way about being able to connect in his own way with guys and then being able to make his presence felt once he (felt) like, ‘I’m fitting in.’
“And it was so seamless for him by just being Bobby. Not at all surprised, but really glad that he’s here with us.”
The Rams are also hoping for a seamless transition on the field for Wagner’s debut against the “excellent” Bills. But he won’t have to do it alone with Ramsey, Donald and the rest of the Rams’ stout defense.
Week 1 is officially here and two excellent teams will kick off the 2022 regular season on Thursday night at SoFi Stadium.
“It’s going to be a great challenge, but one that we’re excited about attacking the right way,” McVay said.
— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) September 2, 2022
NO UPDATE ON JEFFERSON
Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson was the only player from the 53-man roster who didn’t participate in the first practice after Tuesday’s cutdown day.
McVay mentioned that Jefferson has made progress after having knee surgery last month, but he didn’t provide an update about his Week 1 game status.
“He’s making good progress,” McVay said. “We’re taking it a day at a time with Van, kinda like what we said (before).”
If Jefferson isn’t ready to play versus the Bills, that will create opportunities for backup wide receivers Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell and Brandon Powell to play with starters Kupp and Allen Robinson. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Lance McCutcheon had a dominant preseason, but he’s going to start the season by attempting to carve out a role on special teams, according to McVay.
“I thought he did a good job of just demonstrating consistent play throughout those three (preseason) games,” McVay said of McCutcheon. “Now the next challenge for him is, ‘How do I elevate the complete game, not exclusive to receiver, but also helping out (on special teams).’”
RAMSEY READY TO GO
McVay was more emphatic with his update on Ramsey.
“He sure looks damn good out here,” McVay said. “So, he’s feeling good and he’s going to be ready to roll on (Thursday).”
Ramsey has practiced fully the past few weeks after missing the start of training camp with a shoulder injury.
Running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson practiced again Friday, and appear ready to go against the Bills, according to McVay.
“Everybody is good to go,” McVay said.
The top two running backs returned to practice Monday after missing the prior two weeks because of soft tissue issues and precautionary reasons.