9 takeaways from Rams’ joint practices with Raiders

The Rams held two joint practices with the Raiders on Wednesday and Thursday, the final two practices with another team that Los Angeles will have this summer. As was the case when they visited the Cowboys, tempers flared during the Rams’ practice with the Raiders – on both days, too.

Thursday’s practice was actually cut short because a brawl broke out and coaches felt it would be best to separate the teams and end practice before things got out of hand.

To recap the two practices, here are nine notes and takeaways from a heated couple of days at the Rams’ facility in Thousand Oaks.

These teams don’t like each other

You’d think the Rams and Raiders were bitter rivals by the way they competed and went at it for two days in camp. There were skirmishes on Wednesday, which led to some frustration from Sean McVay because it limited the productivity of practice. He hoped Thursday would be cleaner, but unfortunately, it was even worse. A huge brawl broke out a little more than an hour into practice on Day 2, with punches being thrown. McVay and Jon Gruden decided to call practice early and the Raiders departed on their buses while the Rams finished working on their own. Joint practices are always intense, but things seemed to get out of hand on Thursday.

Matthew Stafford is taking chances in practice

The great thing about practice is no one keeps track of a quarterback’s touchdown-to-interception ratio. So when Stafford threw three interceptions on Wednesday, including one to Cory Littleton, there was no reason to panic. According to McVay, a couple of Stafford’s picks were the result of tipped passes, as well as the veteran being more aggressive in practice than he would be in a game. “This is a great opportunity to test a lot of our rules,” McVay said. “That's what I like about Matthew is he's aggressively trying things out. So, then you can learn how to be smart with that decision-making thought process when the games really count.” No one will remember how many interceptions Stafford throws in camp. You never want your quarterback turning the ball over often, but he’ll dial it back and be more careful when the real games begin.

Offense played better on Day 2

McVay was not thrilled with the Rams offense on Wednesday. Fortunately, Stafford and Co. came back better on Day 2 with an improved performance against the Raiders. Stafford hit Van Jefferson with a deep shot down the sideline, which seemed to be the highlight of practice. It’s a credit to the Raiders defense for the way it played on Wednesday, especially in the secondary and up front along the defensive line, but the Rams knew they needed to be better on Thursday.

Rams had no answer for Darren Waller

Waller is one of the players in the NFL right now who’s extremely difficult to cover. The athletic tight end is a dangerous receiver with a huge catch radius and impressive speed for a man his size, which the Rams learned over the last two days. They struggled to cover the Raiders tight end, whether it was Waller beating Jordan Fuller in coverage or winning against Kenny Young. With George Kittle in the division, the Rams better improve against tight ends, and fast.

Van Jefferson is on the rise

Jefferson has built a rapport with Stafford heading into the season, pushing for snaps as the No. 3 receiver. Stafford appears to have confidence in the second-year wideout, giving him chances on deep balls down the field. On Thursday, Stafford hit Jefferson deep down the right sideline, with the receiver making a nice over-the-shoulder grab for a big gain.

Robert Rochell is still making plays despite wearing a cast

Rochell just had wrist surgery not long ago but he hasn’t missed a beat in practice with the season approaching. On Wednesday, he was going up against the Raiders’ backups and managed to pick off Marcus Mariota despite wearing a cast on his arm. The rookie has all the talent in the world and if he can simply stay healthy and learn from Jalen Ramsey, he’s going to make an impact this year.

D-line stepped up without Aaron Donald on Thursday

Donald had the day off Thursday, but the Rams’ defensive line still had a good day against the Raiders offense. Tashan Reed of The Athletic tweeted that the Raiders had to settle for short passes because of the pressure that was coming from Los Angeles’ front, a good sign for the Rams’ big men.

Ramsey-Renfrow was the battle no one expected

Jalen Ramsey and Hunter Renfrow battled often on Wednesday when the Rams corner was aligned over the slot. Reporters in attendance saw Renfrow win a bunch of the one-on-one matchups with Ramsey, but Ramsey had a different story to tell when talking to reporters Thursday. He said Renfrow didn’t give him any issues and felt he actually had a good day of practice, adding that he watched the film twice and couldn’t find the plays where Renfrow burned him multiple times. The two share mutual respect for each other, but this wasn’t the heavyweight battle anyone expected to see. “I go check it out and I guess some of their media thought that Hunter Renfrow had a really good day against me. I still can’t find the plays. I watched the film twice and I still can’t find the plays where I was burnt multiple times. But, sure,” Ramsey said. “He had one good catch on me yesterday, 6 yards, still a fourth down. But, it’s cool.”

Injuries are beginning to pile up, even if not major

The Rams are banged up right now before the second preseason game. Leonard Floyd was held out as a precaution with an ankle injury, Trishton Jackson has a knee injury and Eric Banks’ back has been acting up. To make matters worse, David Long Jr. didn’t practice because of a sore groin, though McVay said it’s nothing to be worried about. These might be fairly minor injuries, but the Rams are hurting right now with some bumps and bruises.