Over the past two weeks, the Rams have increased their stellar power with the addition of outside midfielder Von Miller and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Miller’s trade and Beckham’s signing as a free agent sparked headlines, buzz and social media frenzy about the Rams’ team, which already boasted quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide-spread adoptive Cooper Kupp, defender Aaron Donald and defender Jalen Ramsey.
Now, perhaps Coach Sean McVeigh and Rams fans will finally see if the new hires are worth the hype.
Miller and Beckham may make their Rams debuts Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers at Levy Stadium. Monday Night Football is the final match for the 7-2 Rams ahead of next week’s open date.
“We’re trying to win now,” said Donald, three-time NFL Defender of the Year, about the Rams’ aggressiveness in their quest for stellar talent. “That’s what it’s about.
“When you see them make moves like this, bringing in players and talented players … it’s like the ultimate in madness.”
Miller, an eight-time Pro Bowl player, told Rams on November 2 following his deal with the Denver Broncos. He treated an ankle sprain suffered prior to the exchange and did not play in the Rams’ 28-16 losing against the Tennessee Titans on November 7. McVeigh has previously admitted that he may have held Miller until the November 28 away game against Green Bay. Packers.
But McVeigh said last week that Miller could join Donald, Ramsey and winger Leonard Floyd in their NFC West game against the 49ers (3-5).
Miller was limited in his practice and considered dubious.
“If there are no failures, I expect Vaughn to be ready to go,” McVeigh said.
Looks like Beckham has no choice.
The three-time Pro Bowl player agreed to the contract on Thursday, arrived at Rams’ Thousand Oaks base on Friday and learned later that night that wide receiver Robert Woods had suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee.
Gone are the chances of Beckham’s gradual adaptation.
“Definitely a sense of urgency when you’re racing right now,” Beckham said. “You have to find ways to keep winning.
“So, whatever I can do to help.”
In six games with the Cleveland Browns this season, Beckham has caught 17 assists for 232 yards and zero touchdowns. The eighth pro and the Browns agreed to part ways, putting Beckham on course to join Team Rams, which is considered a contender for the LVI Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium.
Beckham was an outstanding player early in his career, a player who regularly hit the New York Giants before being traded for the Browns after the 2018 season.
In 2019, Beckham had his fifth 1000-yard intake season. But in 2020, he suffered a late-season knee injury and became disillusioned with his role this season.
Beckham is part of a group of positions that now include Kupp, second-year run Van Jefferson, rookie Ben Skouronek and JJ Koski.
According to McVeigh, the Rams will take a “modified approach” to Beckham as he begins to internalize the rules of the game requiring receivers to be an integral part of the fast-paced attack as well as the passing game.
The Rams have not defeated the 49ers since the 2018 season, when the Rams won their second consecutive division title, finished 13-3 and made the playoffs to the Super Bowl. Kyle Shanahan, coach of the 49s, mentored McVeigh when they coached with Washington.
Is it harder for McVeigh to stomach the loss of a close friend?
“As a competitor, I hate losing to anyone,” he said, adding, “If these failures ever get easier for me, then I think I’ll probably change the way I work.
“But no, they all stink.”
Shanahan led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in the 2019 season, but they finished 6-10 last season.
“You would like to win one-on-one battles, but I would choose the best result,” he said. “So, I know we beat them twice, but we always win.”
Rams stalk the Arizona cardinals in the NFC West. On October 3, the Cardinals beat the Rams 37-20 at SoFi Stadium and beat Arizona 8-2 after losing 34-10 to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Although he did not have the opportunity to study the Rams’ offense and connection to teammates during training camp, Beckham said he will work quickly to pick up speed in the last eight games of the season.
“We are all professionals,” he said, “and I just have to be a professional in this situation and find ways to acclimate, succeed and everything else as quickly as I can, and do whatever it takes to help this team find ways to win.”