OXNARD: On day one, Jared Goff appeared to conjugate all his quarterback verbs correctly.
“The way they say it, and it’s absolutely right, it’s almost like learning a different language,” Goff said Friday, shortly after the Rams’ recent No. 1 overall draft pick completed his first [and quite informal]pro practice. “I felt like I picked it up as I went along, and it got better.”
The Rams started their two-day rookie minicamp for 27 players who either were drafted, signed or invited on tryouts. Most of the work is off the field, with introductory and informational meetings, but players also got on the field Friday for approximately two hours to show their wares.
Major analysis would be pointless. There was no tackling, and players ran at half speed and spent much of their time working with coaches on positional drills. Coach Jeff Fisher roamed around and took a good look.
Mostly, the afternoon seemed to have symbolic significance. Players wore Rams uniforms on a field in Southern California for the first time since 1994, and the practice marked the start of the Goff era.
Goff, presumed to be the Rams’ quarterback of the future – if not the present – looked the part. A basic, meat-market evaluation indicated that Goff comes as advertised, with great footwork, a quick release, a good, accurate arm and plenty of confidence. He didn’t seem overwhelmed by the moment.
“It’s just a lot of fun to be able to get back out here with the guys and enjoy football again,” Goff said, “and get out of the whole pre-draft process and be able to actually play again.”
Goff took snaps out of the shotgun formation, as he did almost exclusively at Cal, but also spent significant time working with coaches on under-center snaps.
If there’s any question about Goff, this is it, whether his skills can translate to a pro-style system. But Goff looked fine in under-center snaps – which basically is to say he didn’t fumble or trip over his feet – and said his acclimation to the Rams’ playbook, which he has had for only a week, has been smooth.
“There is a lot that translates,” Goff said. “Most of the [shotgun]stuff translates, almost all of it. Then there’s under-center stuff that I’m picking up as I go along.”
Goff’s experience this weekend is markedly different than other mini-campers, because he’s essentially the only one guaranteed to be on the roster at the start of the season. For Goff, this is about learning and growing. For the other two dozen players, it’s about making an impression.
Fourth-round picks Tyler Higbee (tight end) and Pharoh Cooper (receiver) and sixth-round picks Temarrick Hemingway (tight end) and Mike Thomas (receiver) participated, as did a score of lesser-known prospects with dreams of being on the sideline for the Sept. 12 season opener against San Francisco.
“I thought everyone looked fine today,” Goff said. “You can’t really tell until you watch it on film, but I felt good about what I did and from what I saw on the field, it looked pretty good.”
Most of the cameras, unsurprisingly, were trained on Goff, who said he’s mindful of the scrutiny. The real competition won’t start until Goff joins incumbent quarterbacks Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Sean Mannion in full-team practices, but Goff said he wants to be seen as a leader immediately.
Next month, Goff will join full-team offseason workouts. The speed, intensity and attention will increase, but Goff said he won’t get caught up in “all this,” as he smiled and gestured toward TV cameras.
“You want to be the guy you are, the person you are, and be the leader of my rookie class, per se,” Goff said. “I’ll just work as hard as I can to make everyone buy in, and be the best player I can be.”
Goff’s debut couldn’t have been more picturesque. Sunlight gleamed through ominous-looking clouds, and nearby rain didn’t make its way through Oxnard.
As Goff and the rookies worked out on the field, wedged between a golf course and a hotel, a handful of veteran Rams lingered and worked out at the team’s makeshift weight room as music blared. None seemed to pay much mind to the field, where their quarterback of the future took his first NFL steps.
“I’ve got a bunch of texts from a bunch of [veteran]guys and it’s been really cool,” Goff said. “I’m excited to finally get to work with them eventually.”