Tight end Jacob Harris and wide receiver Van Jefferson shine at Rams OTAs
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif .– Jacob Harris cuts a towering figure standing next to the rest of the Los Angeles Rams wide receivers on the training ground.
At 6-5, 211 pounds, Harris looks more like a big receiver than a tight end who catches passes. However, the athleticism and ability of the Central Florida product to point the ball stood out in the 7-on-7 drills at this week’s team events open to reporters.
Selected in the fourth round by the Rams in this year’s draft, Harris is someone who could contribute for Los Angeles in the regular season.
“Jacob Harris is a guy who really stood out,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said when asked which players had shone among this year’s rookies. “Just his overall speed and athleticism, you kind of feel that on the pitch. But this has been in some of the limited routes, 7 v 7 and on-air race types.
“It’s not how you really play football, so there’s a real difference when you actually include the offensive and defensive lines. But just the overall athleticism and some of the things that he and Wes (the Rams TEs coach Wes Phillips) have been working the last few weeks to improve, someone comes to mind.
Another player who caught McVay’s attention during the offseason is sophomore pro Van Jefferson.
The Florida product had an impressive training camp in his rookie season last year, but saw limited opportunities as a fourth receiver last year. However, with Josh Reynolds signing with the Tennessee Titans in free agency, Jefferson is expected to get more shots on the court as LA’s third receiver.
“I just think he has some special receiver traits,” McVay said of Jefferson. “He has a great ability to work the edges and to separate. He has good aggressive hands. You can see it really worked. He came back and established himself as a legitimate dude, a guy that we rely on for big things and I think the future is so bright for this guy.
McVay went on to say that Jefferson has been a major silver lining during offseason work and someone he’s excited to see during training camp and the regular season.
Just like last week, DeSean Jackson, Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Donald, Tyler Higbee and Darious Williams were among the players not visible during practices open to reporters on Friday.
Running back Darrell Henderson Jr. had been working on the sidelines in practices open to journalists for the past two weeks, but was involved in the individual work.
In addition, outside linebacker Terrell Lewis did not participate in the practice open to journalists. McVay said he was unsure of Lewis’ state of health and did not provide Henderson with a specific injury status.
Receiver Robert Woods also did not participate in practice Thursday.
McVay said all players are expected to attend the mandatory minicamp from Tuesday next week – but also acknowledged that there would be some exceptions.
“It’s technically a mandatory minicamp, but I would never just say one way or the other,” McVay said. “I have conversations with all of my players, and I’m a pretty understanding guy about certain situations, and I don’t plan anything that is out of the norm or unexpected for next week. Everyone (will be there) except a few guys that I won’t get into, but have spoken with.
A few other things that stood out from training this week.
With Austin Corbett in center and Bobby Evans at right guard, the Rams’ starting offensive line looks pretty solid up front. It will be interesting to see how they work together in the racing game with a more experienced Cam Akers entering his second season in the NFL.
Cal Poly catcher JJ Koski got a few points with the starters and made a few plays. Same thing with receiver Trishton Jackson.
Rookie Tutu Atwell is a natural hand receiver and seemed comfortable receiving punters during the specialty period.
Fourth-round selection cornerback Robert Rochell, who worked with the starters at cornerback and at 6-2, 195 pounds, is a lanky athlete who could help in the regular season.
“He’s become more and more confident over the last couple of weeks that we’ve been able to compete against each other, offense against defense in those 7 of 7 settings,” McVay said of Rochell. “The movement, the body type – all of those things are there. But I really like the improvement I have seen in him.