Bobby Wagner’s communication as Rams ‘green dot’ exposed in mental labor day
IRVINE, Calif. – How do you know it will be mostly a setup/mental work day at Camp Rams? Walkie-talkies are coming out – and not just for coaches.
Usually, when a player has a headset microphone (reserved for quarterbacks and whoever calls signals on defense), communication to the sideline is much less obvious to spectators. But because the workload was physically lighter on Tuesday, the third day of Rams training camp, inside linebacker Bobby Wagner instead had a walkie-talkie with a chain fitted to defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
“It’s funny, because Rah also talks a lot of trash on the walkie-talkie,” Wagner said after practice, smiling.
“I tried (to answer) – they cut that part off. They must have known I was going to say something back. I tried to hold the button down and I didn’t get static… we will work on that.
Wagner will wear the “green dot” for the Rams, which means he will be the player with the green sticker on his helmet and the earpiece inside, which is responsible for relaying calls from the defensive coordinator to the rest of defense .
“It’s the mic (middle) linebacker, that’s all I know,” he said. Wagner held the responsibility for the past 10 years in Seattle.
The Rams have assigned these duties to a safety in previous years (most recently it belonged to Jordan Fuller), but traditionally the role has been filled by a middle linebacker. Generally, this player does not leave the field. So far, it’s clear that the team’s plan for Wagner will be broad, and not just on the pitch.
Bobby Wagner and Ernest Jones stretch and debrief before the day as the special teams move to another pitch pic.twitter.com/DJEaAsKr4w
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) July 26, 2022
“There are a few niceties and different things that we will ask him, (whether it’s) the blitz (or) some of the coverage responsibilities,” head coach Sean McVay said after practice on Tuesday. “Really, I like picking (his) brains – really learning how he’s seen our stuff, what he sees of the league landscape, what are some things they’ve done that maybe we can incorporate.
“He’s such a mature and impressive human being that I really enjoyed getting to know him and how he conducts himself day in and day out. His presence, his ability to communicate with composure, I think (it) rubs off on the rest of the guys when you’re trying to create frenetic beats.
This communication was particularly helpful on Tuesday because the Rams did little to no live football work and instead worked mostly on conceptual drilling at 50% speed, including in 11-on-11 situations. .
“It’s kind of just using that as a way to get their legs back under them,” McVay said. “Insist them on some things that we may not give each other offensively and defensively, while pushing our facilities a little bit. Our guys handled it very well. You can do it when you have the right kind of guys and leadership like Bobby and our other veterans. It’s an important day, but it’s still very early in the process for us.
(As a reminder, the Rams often structure their live periods to run second team vs. first team on either side of the ball. First team vs. first team periods will be specified in reports. Members of the media may not report schemes or depth charts unless addressing it directly with a coach/player in an interview, but otherwise the full workout is open to accredited viewers.)
• Right tackle Rob Havenstein, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, tight end Tyler Higbee and defensive tackle Aaron Donald were among the players who did not practice on Tuesday. McVay said the team wanted the veterans to rest their legs before a more intense practice on Wednesday. The Rams will also have their first padded practice later this week/weekend.
• Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who said on Monday he was still considering a return from shoulder surgery when the Rams open the season on September 8, has had a pretty grueling workout on the pitch with team coaches before the start of the day’s training.
• Rookie running back Kyren Williams, who broke his foot during the spring OTAs and had surgery, is still on track to return later in the pre-season. Williams notably stays close to his position group during drills and setup times, even if he can’t participate directly, clearly in an effort to absorb as much information as possible. Third-year running back Cam Akers, who returned ahead of the 2021 playoffs after tearing his Achilles he suffered before training camp last season, said he’s taking on a mentoring role with Williams not only as a more veteran player in the position, but also as Williams works through his own injury and recovery process.
“Just being there when he needs me, or just being there if he needs to talk or has a question for me,” Akers said of Williams. “Just being there when he needs me – he’s done really well…He’ll be back on the pitch in a few weeks I think…just a credit to our staff, how hard they work hard and how hard he worked to come back. Hats off to Kyren.
• With the Rams sometimes spelling out Brian Allen (for similar reasons to the aforementioned veteran players, although Allen was involved in some of the training) and Coleman Shelton moved to center, guard Logan Bruss got reps from setup with the first-team offensive line (he and Shelton compete for the job when Shelton doesn’t support Allen at center). Between snaps, guard David Edwards took extra time to go over the technical work with Bruss.
• Cameron Dicker took live punt reps while Riley Dixon repeated ghosts during special teams setup times (unclear if this was intentional or for health reasons, but Dixon participates fully in training, so probably the first). Dixon, the more veteran of the two players, signed a one-year contract this spring, but the Rams opened up a “betting competition” when they added Dicker in undrafted free agency. Dicker seemed to place the ball well as it correlated with the demands of the facility, and Dixon stood with kicker Matt Gay and talked about the scoresheet. Similar to former longtime punter Johnny Hekker, Dixon is built more as a linebacker than as a stereotypical bettor. The real question is: can he throw?
(Photo by Sean McVay: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)