Southern California is home -- and truly the land of opportunity for Robert Woods.
In four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, the USC All-American never caught more than 65 passes in a season, or amassed as many as 700 yards receiving.
That changed when he signed with the Rams in 2017.
So what, if anything, has Woods been able to show the last three-plus seasons?
“A whole lot,” Woods said Wednesday during a video conference with reporters.
Woods returns to Buffalo for the first time Sunday when the Rams (2-0) play the Bills (2-0) at Bills Stadium.
“It feels good to go back to where I started my NFL career,” Woods said, adding, “Love the fans — I wish the fans could be there. Just going back to that atmosphere, feeling like it’s another home place for me.”
Woods, 28, has flourished since signing with the Rams after Sean McVay was named head coach.
In 2017, despite sitting out three games because of injuries, he caught 56 passes for 781 yards during the Rams’ playoff run. In 2018, he caught 86 passes for 1,219 yards as the Rams advanced to the Super Bowl.
Last season, he had 90 receptions for 1,134 yards.
Last week, Woods signed a four-year extension that runs through the 2025 season and includes $32 million in guarantees. He has eight receptions for 119 yards, and also has rushed for a touchdown, as the Rams defeated the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.
“This is a special guy and the way that he does stuff with the ball, without…. His energy and his toughness, I think it's so good for our football team,” McVay said this week.
Woods, a second-round pick by the Bills in 2013, recalled his first NFL touchdown catch on a pass in the back of the end zone from EJ Manuel.
“I had no idea of a celebration,” he said. “I just screamed. I just remember that.”
Woods grew up in Carson and attended Gardena Serra High before attending USC. He was accustomed to sunshine, but said he has fond memories of the weather in Buffalo.
“I grew to love Buffalo,” he said, adding, “I never really got a chance to experience really like another city, especially another weather climate like that.
“So going to Buffalo, being in the snow, seeing the football culture there, I loved it. Real true loyal fans, fun place to play. If you’re not wearing Bills gear in the city, they’re looking at you funny.”
Running backs Cam Akers (ribs) and Malcolm Brown (finger) and cornerback Darious Williams (Achilles) did not practice. Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth and defensive tackle Aaron Donald were given veteran’s rest days. Offensive lineman Joe Noteboom (calf), who was declared out for Sunday’s game, has not been placed on temporary injured reserve but McVay “you can expect to see him placed,” there “in the near future.”... Receiver Cole Beasley (hip/thumb), tight end Dawson Knox (concussion) and defensive tackle Ed Oliver (knee) did not practice, according to the Bills injury report. Cornerback Tre’Davious White and linebacker Matt Milone (hamstring) were limited.