LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Rams' offseason program begins six days from now, on Monday, April 10, at the team's facility in Thousand Oaks, California. And a considerable amount of work lies ahead.
OTAs, which encompass the third phase, will take place May 23 to 25, May 30 to 31, June 1 and June 5 to 8, with a mandatory minicamp following from June 13 to 15. Live contact is not allowed, but the Rams can progress beyond strength and conditioning after the first two weeks of their 10-week program.
That means second-year quarterback Jared Goff can finally get familiar with Sean McVay's offense, and defensive players can finally get up to speed with the 3-4 scheme being implemented by Wade Phillips. The Rams can also get to work on some key position changes. A new left tackle, a new defensive system and an overall lack of depth in their secondary have necessitated position changes for four key players this spring. Below is a look at each of them.
Offensive line: The Rams bought themselves a massive upgrade for Goff's blindside by signing veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth to a three-year deal that guarantees $15 million. It also led to some shuffling. The previous left tackle, 2014 No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson, will shift to right tackle in hopes of maintaining a starting job. The previous right tackle, 2015 second-round pick Rob Havenstein, will get some work at right guard in hopes of becoming an interior fit. The Rams have insurances in place, however. If Robinson doesn't work out at right tackle, Havenstein, Andrew Donnal and perhaps even Rodger Saffold, currently the starting left guard, can step in. If Havenstein can't transition to guard, the Rams have two young linemen in Jamon Brown and Cody Wichmann they can turn to.
Linebackers: Phillips' 3-4 scheme means Robert Quinn, the veteran defensive lineman who racked up 40 sacks from 2012 to '14, will technically become a linebacker, joining Mark Barron, Alec Ogletree and the recently signed Connor Barwin. But not much is expected to change. On 3-4 sets, Quinn is still expected to spend a significant portion of his time getting around the edge to rush the quarterback. On nickel packages, which take place a majority of the time because of how often teams throw the ball, he'll be a down lineman. McVay compared Quinn's situation to that of retired linebacker DeMarcus Ware, saying Quinn will play the "Will" linebacker position but "be treated like a rush end.” The Rams' biggest concern is for Quinn's health. He has started a combined 15 games the last two years.
Safety: The Rams haven't formally announced this move, but there's a good chance Lamarcus Joyner could transition to safety this season. As with Quinn, it will probably be situational. The Rams would like for Joyner, a hard hitter despite being 5-foot-8, to be on the field every snap. One way to do that would be to have him play free safety when the team is in a 3-4 set, then move him to his original spot as slot corner -- a role he has excelled in the last two years -- on nickel packages. The Rams lost free safety Rodney McLeod to the Eagles last offseason and let strong safety T.J. McDonald leave for the Dolphins this offseason. Maurice Alexander transitioning back to strong safety opened up free safety. Joyner, a second-round pick in 2014, excelled at both safety and corner at Florida State.