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    Rams’ offense preparing for raucous Lions fans
    • January 12, 2024

    THOUSAND OAKS — Sometimes, generational events mean that you don’t know what to expect when they occur. Other times, though, it’s easy to predict. And you can count Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff game between the Rams and the Detroit Lions among the latter category.

    The Lions will host their first home playoff game in 30 years. And there’s no question how Detroit’s success-starved fans will respond when it arrives Sunday night at Ford Field.

    “I’ve played in a lot of loud venues throughout my career,” said Rams quarterback and former Lion Matthew Stafford, “but I’m sure this one will be up there.”

    The Rams have spent the week at practice blaring music from their speakers in some attempt to mimic the noise they expect at Ford Field, a domed stadium that will only magnify the roar of the roughly 65,000 fans expected at the game.

    “You can’t even hear yourself think, really,” running back Kyren Williams said of the practice atmosphere this week. “It might be kind of overboard, but I’d rather be overboard than not enough.”

    Under the not-so-dulcet tones of Eminem, Busta Rhymes and M.O.P., the Rams have worked on silent counts at the line of scrimmage and different forms of communication inside and out of the huddle.

    Veterans like right tackle Rob Havenstein are coaching up teammates making their playoff debuts on how to stand in the huddle: Turn sideways so an ear is pointed at Stafford as he makes a play call.

    If you still don’t hear it, then grab a teammate and ask as you head to the line of scrimmage.

    The same goes for checks and protection assignments at the line of scrimmage.

    “Just really echoing things down,” Havenstein said. “You almost gotta play a game of telephone now and then.”

    The Rams may have to resort to other methods of communication, too, from reading lips to non-verbal gestures to get their messages across.

    As they try to get on the same page, all eyes will be on Stafford. But given the challenges of calling out an audible at the line of scrimmage, there will be an onus on players to take stock of the defense to predict what changes the quarterback might make before the snap.

    “So then when we are getting an audible or something from him, we can anticipate what that is,” receiver Cooper Kupp said, “even if we aren’t able to hear it exactly but we’re able to kind of make out the ideas behind what we’re trying to get done and then communicating with each other. In our offense, there’s usually someone saying right next to you and we’ll be able to talk to each other and make sure we’re all on the same page.”

    Head coach Sean McVay expects Sunday’s atmosphere to be similar to the NFC championship game following the 2018 season, in which the Rams went to New Orleans and beat the Saints in the Superdome. It was that experience that taught McVay to allow players to take the lead as they determine the best methods of communication on the field.

    “I think it’s just learning in terms of how important the communication is and having a good, streamlined process where the players have ownership,” McVay said. “Ultimately, Matthew, as soon as something’s coming in through the headset, then he knows exactly what it is and how efficient can we be with the overall communication and how decisive can we be as coaches and myself with some of the decisions where 40 seconds or 25 seconds out of those quarter changes or clock stoppages? That’s going to be super important for us.”

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    Injury report

    Rams safety Jordan Fuller (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday and will be questionable for Sunday’s game. McVay said the Rams will continue to give him the opportunity to play against the Lions if he progresses enough to be ready to go.

    “He is a guy that because of his experience, because of his ownership, you want to give him all the time that he needs,” McVay said.

    Whether or not Fuller plays, the Rams’ game plan will stay the same as players like Russ Yeast and Quentin Lake stand in the wings ready to fill in.

    Offensive lineman Joe Noteboom (foot), linebacker Troy Reeder (knee), tight end Tyler Higbee (shoulder) and offensive lineman Kevin Dotson (shoulder) are all listed as questionable for the game, too, but McVay said he expects Dotson and Higbee to be ready to play.

    ​ Orange County Register