Aaron Donald, Bryce Perkins, Cam Akers, Cooper Kupp, Dallas Cowboys, DeSean Jackson, Jake Funk, LA Rams, LA Rams and Dallas Cowboys Scrimmage, Matthew Stafford, Robert Woods, Sean McVay, Tyler Highbee, Xavier Jones
DeSean Jackson, of LA Rams, looks up for a pass from QB Matthew Stafford during Saturday’s scrimmage with the Dallas Cowboys
By KEVIN MODESTI | firstname.lastname@example.org | Los Angeles Daily News, PUBLISHED: August 7, 2021 at 9:35 p.m. | UPDATED: August 8, 2021 at 2:18 a.m., Repost by: J. Adams, DeSean Jackson Foundation , August 8, 2021, 7:14 a.m.
OXNARD — The first two passes were too long. The next one was too short and was broken up. Finally, on the last attempt at a deep throw from Matthew Stafford to DeSean Jackson, the Rams’ star off-season additions got it just right.
Stafford’s high-arching completion to DeSean Jackson, who’d out-sprinted defensive backs Trevon Diggs and Donovan Wilson up the right sideline, was a highlight of the Rams’ scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday.
Given how much the Rams are depending on the new quarterback’s arm and the new wide receiver’s speed to loosen up defenses, it must have been a relief to see a deep ball actually connect in something like game conditions.
“It was good to see,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “That was an unbelievable throw (by Stafford) across his body. We want to be efficient and explosive, and that was a great example of creating explosives.
The scrimmage in front of bleachers full of mostly Cowboys fans at Dallas’ training site was the Rams’ first chance to go against another team since camp opened July 28.
As often happens in a format where players starved for competition must tread a line between tackling (prohibited) and delivering “pro thuds” (encouaged), there were scuffles, one involving Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
But there was enough real work to occupy two practice fields.
McVay spent most of his time on the field where the Rams’ offense and Cowboys’ defense squared off in scripted situations.
A few things stood out.
With questions to answer in the backfield after Cam Akers’ Achilles injury, Darrell Henderson took most of the handoffs, followed by seventh-round draft pick Jake Funk and second-year running back Xavier Jones.
McVay noted that Henderson broke a run around right end and Funk got loose in a red-zone series.
“We’ll continue to evaluate,” the coach said.
It was natural to watch how Stafford worked with his receivers.
Because McVay doesn’t play starters in preseason games, Saturday’s scrimmage and two upcoming against the Raiders will be the only chances to see the new quarterback in anything close to a game before the Sept. 12 regular-season opener against the Bears at SoFi Stadium.
By unofficial count, Stafford completed 24 of 33 passes, and had one intercepted, in the drills against the Cowboys. Second-year Ram Bryce Perkins went 6 for 6, and ex-Steelers backup Duck Hodges went 7 for 9. John Wolford is out 10-14 days after having his appendix removed Friday.
Kupp caught the most passes from Stafford, and wide receiver Robert Woods and tight end Tyler Higbee caught a handful.
Stafford and Jackson missed more than they hit. But all of those passes were downfield. It only took one completion to reassure Rams onlookers.
Kupp was happy to see it, being one of the short-ball receivers who hope to have more room to operate because Jackson stretches defenses.
“You can see the feel they have for each other, and just the ability for DeSean to track the ball like he has, and Matthew getting the ball up there and putting air under it and letting guys run underneath it,” Kupp said.
“We love having DeSean Jackson out here.”