Rams Claim Jacksonville Cornerback

October 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Rams claimed Dwayne Gratz on waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, hoping to add depth at the cornerback position with Trumaine Johnson expected to miss Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher described Gratz as a “great, great young man, really smart, a team guy.

“I liked him coming out of Connecticut,” Fisher told reporters following practice at California Lutheran University. “We were really excited about being awarded the claim.”

Gratz was expected to arrive Wednesday.

“We’re get him coached up as quick as we can to play special teams,” Fisher said.

Gratz is in his fourth season in the league. He was chosen by the Jaguars in the third round of the 2013 draft with the 64th overall selection.He has played 40 games in the NFL, starting 25. His most recent game was Oct. 2 when Jacksonville defeated Indianapolis, 30-27, in London.

L.A. Rams Kicker Greg Zuerlein was 4 for 4 on field goals attempts on Sunday, including 54-yard field goal on the Rams first second-half possession. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

L.A. Rams Kicker Greg Zuerlein was 4 for 4 on field goals attempts on Sunday, including 54-yard field goal on the Rams first second-half possession. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

The Rams will face the New York Giants in London on Oct. 23.

“I didn’t have to ask him if he had a passport or not,” Fisher said.

Johnson was injured in Sunday’s 30-19 loss to the Buffalo Bills and is “probably not going to go this week,” Fisher said.

“It’ll be week-to-week,” Fisher said.

The Rams waived undrafted rookie defensive end Morgan Fox to make room for Gratz on their 53-player active roster. Fox was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad on Saturday when the team needed depth on the defensive line with three starters injured.

Fox played on 12 of the Rams 55 plays on defense Sunday, 22 percent, but did not make a tackle.

 

Measure M Backers Tout High Ridership Among Rams Fans

October 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Backers of the proposed extension and increase in a countywide sales tax to fund transit projects pointed Tuesday to the success of the Metro Expo Line, and its heavy use by fans attending Los Angeles Rams games, as an example of transportation improvements the levy would fund.

Standing in the shadow of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, supporters of Measure M said about 25 percent of people attending Rams games get to the stadium by Metro transit, most notably the Expo Line light rail.

“Twenty-five percent of Rams fans taking Metro to the games means 20,000 fewer people clogging freeways and parking lots, and that means less traffic for us all,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “It shows that the success we’ve already seen by extending the Expo Line to Santa Monica is only increasing, and it shows what we can achieve by voting yes on Measure M.”

Measure M would add another half-cent transportation sales tax in Los Angeles County, on top of the existing half-cent Measure R sales tax already in place. When the Measure R tax expires on July 1, 2039, the Measure M tax would increase to one cent, and remain in place permanently.

The measure, if passed by two-thirds of voters, is expected to generate $120 billion over the first 40 years.

Some of the dozens of upgrades proposed under Measure M, dubbed the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan, include:

— the Airport Metro Connector at Los Angeles International Airport;

— extending light rail lines throughout the county;

— adding rapid transit bus lines, including along the Vermont Corridor and Lincoln Boulevard;

— widening the Golden State (5), Santa Ana (5) and San Diego (405) freeways and widening or adding HOV lanes to many others;

— street repairs;

—    a downtown streetcar project; and

—    new bike paths and lanes.

Opponents of the measure — including the mayors of Norwalk, Beverly Hills and El Segundo, claim the tax would amount to a “blank check” for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority with no accountability.

“Measure M postpones transportation projects for the blue-collar neighborhoods, but projects for affluent communities move to the front of the line,” according to a ballot argument submitted by opponents of the proposal.

“MTA has a poor record of safety and a history of prioritizing wealthy communities, violating civil rights and disenfranchising the poor and the people of color who need effective transit the most.”

But the supporters who gathered today insisted the measure will result in improvements in communities throughout the county, reducing traffic delay by 15 percent a day while creating 465,000 jobs and funding street repaving and pothole repair throughout the region.

Kevin Demoff, chief operating officer and vice president of football operations for the Rams, said the popularity of Metro “has become a hallmark of our Rams community.”

“We’re tackling an age-old problem for sports teams: How do you get people to stay until the end of the game?” he said. “Take away the traffic.”

 

 

NFL Review: Week 2

September 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals to give the Los Angeles Rams a 9-3 victory Sunday over the Seattle Seahawks in the first NFL regular-season game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1994.

Rams middle linebacker Alec Ogletree ended Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson’s attempt for a 20th fourth quarter or overtime comeback victory in his 76 regular and postseason games when he forced running back Christine Michael to fumble at Rams 29-yard line at the end of an eight-yard reception and recovered the loose ball with 45 seconds to play.

“That was a great win for us for all of those obvious reasons,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.

“Our first game back here the fans were incredible. It made this a tough place to play starting day one, which was really impressive. We had many opportunities and there’s going to be a lot of things we have to correct, and we had some mistakes. But when it’s said and done, we take the win.”

 

Melvin Gordon ran for 102 yards and scored 1 touchdown. Gordon has 159 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first two games of the season. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Melvin Gordon ran for 102 yards and scored 1 touchdown. Gordon has 159 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first two games of the season. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

SAN DIEGO (EGP) – Down south, the San Diego Chargers got off to a good start, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 38-14 in their home opener.

The offense made it look easy throughout the game, starting with their first possession when running back Melvin Gordon capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive with a touchdown to make it 7-0 early in the first quarter.

The defense also looked strong, with Casey Hayward picking off Blake Bortles’ pass to set his team up at the Jacksonville 34 that ended with Philip Rivers getting the ball to Travis Benjamin for a 6-yard run for a touchdown.

The defense continued to stifle the Jags in the second quarter after Melvin Ingram sacked and stripped Bortles of the ball that was recovered by Brandon Flowers. On another play, Hayward inked his second pick of the game as the Jags were driving downfield. Phillip Rivers finished the game with 220 yards and 4 touchdowns. Running back Melvin Gorgon rushed for 102 yards and 1 touchdown. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin caught 6 passes for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns.

 

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The San Francisco 49ers were devastated by the Carolina Panthers 46-27 while the Oakland Raiders let one slip away with a 35-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers and Raiders are both 1-1.

Have a favorite California team? Email photos and stories about your NFL experience to service@egpnews.com for a chance to win tickets to a future Rams or Chargers game.

 

Rams Will Pay for Police and Other City Services

September 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Rams have agreed to reimburse thefull cost of city services incurred during home games at the Coliseum, including for police, fire and street services, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced
Tuesday.

“(Team owner) Stan Kroenke and the Rams organization made it clear to me from the start that they intended to be partners with the city and good neighbors to the people of Los Angeles and the region,” Garcetti said. “The commitment they made today, to cover the cost of game-day impacts to the city — including police, fire and sanitation support at and around the Coliseum — is a win for

Police presence at the games will also not take officers away from existing patrols around the city, Garcetti said. Only off-duty police officers will provide security outside the Coliseum during games.

“This partnership ensures that fans will continue to enjoy a secure and family-friendly experience at the venue, with no impact on our ability to provide public safety to all of our communities,” he said.

The officers working inside the Coliseum gates will still be on “regular duty and pay,” according to Garcetti spokesman Carl Marziali.

The Rams will also make retroactive payments for two pre-season games held last month, under the agreement. The team’s first regular-season home game will be on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

Marziali said the team was already paying for the costs of transportation officers.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, has been pushing the team to pony up money for security costs. The LAPPL estimated that the security will cost the city about $2 million a year, with more than 200 officers needed at each game. Union officials released a statement saying they are “pleased that the Rams receipt of taxpayer-funded police patrols to secure their games will now end and that they will pay their bill.”

“Keeping police officers on duty fighting crime was the reason the League exposed this arrangement and we now hope that other organizations, such as USC, will follow Mr. Kroenke’s lead and to no longer accept free police officers for their events at the expense of neighborhood safety,” according to the union.

The union noted that the agreement “shouldn’t have taken so much effort to achieve.” Former City Councilman Dennis Zine and Los Angeles resident James Bibeau filed a taxpayer lawsuit last month looking to force the team to fund the security cost, saying it would otherwise be an unlawful gift of public funds to the Rams.

Four Los Angeles City Council members also sent a letter last month urging Kroenke to commit to covering all the public safety costs incurred at games played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. One of the council members who signed the letter, Mitch O’Farrell, said the agreement “is exactly the outcome we were hoping for.”

He said the use of police officers at the recent games necessitate shifting officers from around the city, and the agreement means officers can now “just focus on the core mission of making the community safer.”

Rams Go Up Against 49ers in Season Opener

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Rams have presented their final 53-man roster and Case Keenum will be the number 1 quarterback going up against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night football for the season opener.

Sean Mannion is listed as the backup quarterback and the number 1 draft choice Jared Goff will not be activated for this game.

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

 

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

(Photo by Fred Zermeno)

“We had to make a decision and we feel that Jared still has a lot to learn and we’ll take it slow with him to make sure he is ready to be a starter”, said Rams coach Jeff Fisher.

Since returning to Los Angeles the Rams will be able to continue their long time west coast rivalry against the 49ers as the love hate relationship between the two teams will heat up once again.

Two Straight Wins for Rams at Home

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Jared Goff threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to running back Malcom Brown with 10 minutes, 30 seconds to play to give the Los Angeles Rams a 21-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an NFL preseason game Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Goff, the first player chosen in the NFL draft, completed all three of his passes on the drive for 34 yards, with Brown rushing twice for 25 yards.

The touchdown was the only score Goff produced in his eight possessions, which included kneeling to kill the clock to end both first half and game.

Goff completed eight of 12 passes for 82 yards.

The Chiefs (0-2) appeared to be driving for the winning score late in the fourth quarter, but third string quarterback Aaron Murray bobbled a snap in shotgun formation, with undrafted rookie safety Jabriel Washington recovering at the Rams’ 22-yard line with 1:49 left.

Kansas City regained possession with 1:22 remaining on its 31-yard line, but Murray threw four consecutive incomplete passes. Goff kneeled down twice to kill the final 1:01.

Running Back Malcolm Brown has gained 154 yards in the Ram’s first two preseason games, with 1 touchdown leading all Rams with production. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Running Back Malcolm Brown has gained 154 yards in the Ram’s first two preseason games, with 1 touchdown leading all Rams with production. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

There were 80,782 tickets distributed, lower than the record breaking 89,140 tickets issued for the pre-season opening win last week over the Dallas Cowboys. Actual attendance figures are not announced for NFL games, but the crowd appeared smaller.

Bicycle patrols around the perimeter of the Coliseum were increased in an attempt to reduce the time for fans to enter the stadium. There was also a different setup at some concession stands in an effort to decrease waiting times, according to Joanna Hunter, who handles corporate communications for the Rams.

Only one arrest was made outside the Coliseum, police said. The arrest for suspicion of public intoxication was made in connection with a disturbance with alcohol involved, Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief William Scott told City News Service, adding that the department works hard to “prevent things from happening.”
“ It was a good night,” he said.

Back inside the Coliseum, things didn’t go as smoothly on the field.

Goff’s first possession ended after two plays when he tripped and fumbled after taking a snap from behind center, with Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe recovering. Cairo Santos kicked a 32-yard field goal four plays later, giving Kansas City a 17-14 lead.

The Rams got two first downs on Goff’s second possession, but he fumbled the ball out of bounds on a third-and-four play with Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen credited with a sack for a seven-yard loss.

The third possession was just one play — Goff kneeling for a one-yard loss on the final play of the first half.

The Rams were forced to punt after three plays on Goff’s fourth possession. The Rams picked up a first down on the fourth possession on Goff’s 26-yard pass to rookie tight end Temarrick Hemingway, but punted four plays later.

The Rams had a total of one first down on Goff’s final three possessions.

The Rams (2-0) scored touchdowns on both possessions starter Case Keenum was quarterback.

Running back Todd Gurley ran three yards for a touchdown on the Rams first possession, a five-play, 81-yard drive that included a 41-yard pass interference penalty by Kansas City free safety Ron Parker on Rams receiver Kenny Britt.

The appearance was the first of the preseason for Gurley, the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2015, who was given last Saturday’s preseason opener off.

Keenum threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Pharoh Cooper on the Rams’ second series, giving them a 14-7 lead.

Keenum completed four of five passes for 53 yards.

The Chiefs scored two touchdowns and got a 32-yard field goal from Santos in the four possessions starter Alex Smith was at quarterback.

Kansas City drove 75 yards on 13 plays on the game’s opening possession, with Smith completing six of seven passes for 65 yards to set up Spencer Ware’s two-yard touchdown run.

Smith threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin 10 minutes, eight seconds before halftime, three plays after completing a 37-yard pass to Chris Conley.

Nick Foles — released by the Rams July 27 after starting 11 games for the team last season when it was based in St. Louis — replaced Smith with 3:23 left in the first half.

Foles drove Kansas City to the Rams 1-yard with 10 seconds remaining in the half when his pass intended for Albert Wilson was incomplete in the end zone. With five seconds left, Chiefs coach Andy Reid opted for a field goal, with Santos’ 19-yarder increasing the lead to 20-14.

Foles completed 10 of 13 passes for 56 yards on his first series and 18 of 22 for 133 yards overall.

The Rams will be on the road for their next two games, first taking on the 2016 Super Bowl Champion Broncos Saturday in Denver, followed by the Vikings Sept. 1 in Minneapolis.

They return to the Coliseum Sept. 18 when they go up against the Seattle Seahawks.

Rams Win in First NFL Game in Coliseum Since 1994

August 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The long-awaited return of the NFL to Los Angeles finally came true Saturday night when the Los Angeles Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys 28-24 in the first game in the LA Memorial Coliseum since 1994.

Long-starved for NFL play close to home, 89,140 tickets were distributed for Saturday’s game, the most for a preseason game in the United States, according to the NFL.

The league does not announce the actual attendance figure.

The preseason opener for both teams got off to an inauspicious start for the Rams as Dallas’ Lucky Whitehead returned Greg Zuerlein’s opening kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown.

The Cowboys offense scored touchdowns on both of their first two possessions as rookie quarterback Dak Prescott threw 10- and 32-yard touchdown passes to Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams.

The Los Angeles Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum during a preseason game Saturday. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

The Los Angeles Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum during a preseason game Saturday. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

However, the Rams defense kept Dallas out of the end zone for the rest of the game, with the Cowboys’ only other points coming on Dan Bailey’s 44-yard field goal 3:47 before halftime.

Rams starting quarterback Case Keenum played the first three series, guiding the team on a 75-yard, eight-play touchdown drive on their second possession, with Benny Cunningham running the final 14 yards for the score. Quarterback Jared Goff, the first player chosen in the NFL draft, entered the game 9:45 before halftime. His first pass was incomplete and second was intercepted.

In comes Sean Mannion, who played one game for the Rams last season when they were based in St. Louis after being selected in the third round of the 2015 draft. The third-string quarterback threw three touchdown passes in the second half, including two in the fourth quarter, helping the Los Angeles Rams overcome a 17-point deficit.

“It was a great evening,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “To come here and see the fans’ support, not only from our fans, but the Cowboys’ fans made it a great competition.”

Both coaches decided not to play their team’s biggest names — Rams running back Todd Gurley and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

“There’s always good things that happen in your first preseason game and there’s always so many things that you have to learn from,” Fisher said.

“We’ve got our work cut out. We’re not close to being regular-season ready. Our defense against the run, we’ve got to get that fixed.”

On Sunday, the Rams announced that rookie free agent safety Brian Randolph will be sidelined for the remainder of the season because of a torn ACL suffered on a kickoff during the team’s preseason opener Saturday.

Rookie free agent and Westlake High School alumnus, receiver Nelson Spruce has a knee sprain and will probably “miss a week or two,” Coach Fisher said.

“We’re still doing more tests,” Fisher told reporters at the team’s training camp at UC Irvine. “From what I understand, surgery is not going to be necessary.”

The last time NFL teams played at the Coliseum was on Dec. 24, 1994, when the Los Angeles Raiders lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 19-9, before a crowd announced at 67,642. The Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995 after playing in Los Angeles for 13 seasons.

Saturday’s game marked the first time the Rams were the home team at the Coliseum since Dec. 16, 1979, when they lost to the New Orleans Saints, 29-14, before a crowd announced at 53,879.

The Rams then defeated the Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in road playoff games to reach Super Bowl XIV, which they lost to Pittsburgh in their only Super Bowl appearance during their initial time in Southern California.

The Rams played their home games at what is now Angel Stadium from 1980-94 before moving to St. Louis.

NFL Returns to Los Angeles

January 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For the first time in more than two decades, the Southland is officially home to a National Football League team, with the St. Louis Rams scheduled to return to Southern California this fall.

Meeting in Houston, NFL owners on Tuesday approved plans for a $1.86 billion, 80,000-seat stadium on the site of the former Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood. The vote marked the return of the NFL to Los Angeles, which has not had a franchise since 1994.

Under the deal approved by NFL owners, the San Diego Chargers will have a one-year option to join the Rams at the Inglewood Stadium. If the Chargers choose not to move to Inglewood, the Oakland Raiders will then have a one-year option to join the Rams at the stadium.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took to Twitter to express his delight – even though the stadium is outside the city of Los Angeles – calling it a “great day for LA,” and adding, “I’ll see you at the Coliseum later this year.” He later said in a statement that with the Rams’ planned return, “Los Angeles cements itself as the epicenter of the sports world.”

The Chargers and Raiders had proposed a joint stadium in Carson, but the proposal never gained any traction with NFL owners.

Those teams did not walk away from the NFL vote empty-handed. Under the league resolution, the Chargers and Raiders would receive an extra $100 million from the NFL to build stadiums in their home markets, on top of the $200 million the league already offers for such projects.

Inglewood Mayor James Butts called the decision a “transformative” moment for his city.

Speaking on The Beast 980 radio Tuesday night, Butts said the league owners recognized that the project “was the most economically lucrative” stadium proposal on offer. He said the city already got a major boost from the renovation of The Forum.

Fans of the NFL Rams celebrated the team’s return to Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of the Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams)

Fans of the NFL Rams celebrated the team’s return to Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of the Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams)

“With the addition of the largest, most beautiful stadium in the world and bringing back the Rams with it, we become a national entertainment center,” he said.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the Inglewood stadium will be ready for the 2019 season. The Rams will begin playing in Los Angeles next season, likely at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

“It’s more than just a stadium,” Goodell said of the Inglewood project. “It’s an arts and entertainment complex that will be responsive to the kinds of things we need to be successful with our fans in the Los Angeles market.”

He said owners believe “the project at Hollywood Park was a kind of signature project that is going to help make us successful in Los Angeles for the long term.”

Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s stadium will be the centerpiece of a planned 300-acre retail, hotel, residential and office complex at the former Hollywood Park site.

Whether the stadium will ultimately house two teams is yet to be determined. Kroenke said the Rams have offered the Chargers and Raiders “a partnership in the stadium as an owner, or we’ve offered the lease arrangements. The teams will have a choice of those options.”

Although the Chargers have the first option to share the Inglewood Stadium with the Rams, it’s unclear if team Chairman Dean Spanos will take advantage of the offer. Spanos has said he had no interest in simply being a tenant in a stadium owned by Kroenke, and he made his feelings clear on the topic in a letter he sent last month to Goodell.

“I will be working over the next several weeks to explore the options that we have now created for ourselves to determine the best path forward for the Chargers,” Spanos said following the owners’ vote Tuesday.

Spanos has wanted a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium for around 15 years, a quest stymied by the city of San Diego’s fiscal problems of a decade ago, the recession and difficulty in finding a suitable site.

When Kroenke proposed about a year ago building a stadium in Inglewood, the Chargers responded by announcing plans to construct their own playing facility with the Raiders in Carson.

The Chargers, who have played in San Diego for 55 years, contend that 25 percent of their business comes from Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer countered by establishing a task force that recommended building a new facility next to Qualcomm Stadium.

The Chargers broke off negotiations on the proposal in June. The team’s refusal to restart talks prevented what could have been a citywide vote on the proposal this month.

An NFL team has not played in the Los Angeles area since 1994.

The Los Angeles Raiders played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1982-1994, before returning to Oakland in 1995. The Los Angeles Rams played in the Coliseum from 1946-1979 and at what was then known as Anaheim Stadium from 1980-1994 before moving to St. Louis in 1995.

The Chargers played at the Coliseum in their inaugural 1960 season when they were a member of the American Football League, then moved to San Diego in 1961.

Rams are Back- But For How Long?

January 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

We have to say we are surprised by the euphoric bliss exhibited by many Angelenos over the the impending return of the Rams to Los Angeles.

Perhaps it’s more about the desire for Los Angeles to once again be home to the National Football League.

We agree that LA should have its own NFL team, but we should not forget how willing team owners, like Georgia Frontiere, who twenty years ago left L.A. with out even bothering to say sorry folks, are willing to pick up stakes and move to more lucrative pastures. Does the name Al Davis –ring a bell? The now deceived owner of the Oakland Raiders ditched Oakland for LA and than LA to return to Oakland. His son was hoping to follow in those footsteps and return once again to LA.

So now the Rams are coming back, and while we don’t want to be killjoys, we can’t forget the heart ache they once caused and have to wonder how long they plan to stay.

Of course this time around the stakes are even higher, since they’ll be using their own money to pay for their new home, as well they should.

We don’t feel too sorry for St. Louis, after all, what goes around comes around.

Los Angeles can be a tough town, so considering the Rams aren’t the number one NFL team in the country, they have a lot to prove to Angelenos, especially those with long memories who don’t only remember the good times.

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