The Rams are all-in on their youth movement in 2023

IRVINE, Calif. — After an offseason of retirement speculation, Sean McVay showed no shortage of energy at the Los Angeles Rams’ first practice of training camp Wednesday.

From the start, the Rams head coach was active and animated, bouncing around from drill to drill and injecting extra intensity anywhere he could.

But in 2023, it’s not the chase of a Lombardi Trophy that is fueling McVay. Rather, it is the youthful energy, the fresh faces and the newfound competition, all of which was on full display Wednesday.

“That’s why you get into this [job]. It’s to try to help these guys,” McVay said of the opportunity to coach so many young players this year. “This is a beautiful challenge for us.”

Los Angels Rams coach Sean McVay yells out instructions during the NFL football team's training camp Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Irvine, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angels Rams head coach Sean McVay yells out instructions at training camp on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Beautiful for now at least.

For the team that championed the “F*** them picks” mantra, albeit successfully, the Rams have certainly changed their tune. Los Angeles followed up its Super Bowl victory with a dismal 5-12 season in 2022-23, sparking an offseason “remodel” that has left the Rams’ roster gutted.

Moving on from key contributors such as Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, Leonard Floyd, Allen Robinson and Taylor Rapp, the new-look Rams consist of Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and not much else when it comes to penciled-in starters.

With 14 draft picks and 26 undrafted free agents primed to battle for the many vacated roles, there will certainly be growing pains in 2023, but thus far, Los Angeles looks to be embracing this youth movement and all that comes with it.

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“The beauty of this team, in general, is there truly is competition.” McVay said. “That’s something for us to really evaluate and be good about finding who are the best 11 guys on offense, defense, special teams.”

The competition, which has largely been absent in recent years as a result of the Rams’ previously star-studded, veteran-heavy roster has been a welcome addition. Quarterback Matthew Stafford noted that it will “serve us well in the end,” and McVay added that it “brings out the best in guys.” The head coach even noted that this year’s roster changes allowed for a more productive summer.

“What was great about [having so many young players] is we got an opportunity in the offseason to get a lot more work than what we normally would have or what we have since 2018,” McVay said.

As the familiarity and comfort grows, so does the already contagious energy that has seen a notable uptick from recent training camps.

“It’s fun. It’s wild. These young guys bring a bunch of juice,” Stafford said. “It’s fun to be around.”

Now, with guys settling in, the key for McVay and the Rams veterans will be to reestablish the culture that defined their recent run of contending teams. But they’ll focus on doing so with an eye toward the future.

“You’re not gonna replace a Jalen Ramsey and the special player that he was for us. Nobody’s gonna be like Bobby Wagner,” McVay said. “But I want [the young players] to be the best versions of themselves, and if they do that, I am confident that good things can happen.”

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