Topic: Goggia was still content after finishing her run.
Aaron Donald makes a joke during a break in practice Alex Lewis Jersey , and Ndamukong Suh chuckles. Pretty soon, the entire Los Angeles Rams' defensive line is cracking up.
This new defense is no laughing matter, though. Six months after the Rams assembled a remarkable collection of veteran talent, it's finally all out on the practice field together.
Michael Brockers, the other defensive lineman in the Rams' fearsome threesome up front, thinks the rest of the NFL should be wary.
"Just backing out of the huddle and looking at all the talent we have is kind of surreal," Brockers said. "I look back and I'm like, 'Bro, we can be so crazy on this field.' But it's on paper first, so we have to go out there and prove why we're so talented, why we're so great."
Donald, Suh and Brockers have been together in practice for the first time over the past week while the Rams prepare for their opener in Oakland on Monday night. Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are eager to get on the field after barely playing in the preseason to see if this defense can live up to its enormous potential.
The bulk of the defensive starters only got seven snaps together in the preseason. That's still more than the offense, which didn't play at all, and defensive coordinator Phillips doesn't sound overly concerned.
"I think they're going to be really good," Phillips said. "But it's (about) meshing together and playing the right way. I have a lot of confidence in them. ... We have a group that really likes football. Some teams or players I've been with, they played because they were good at it or whatever. But this group, they like football. They like playing football, and some of them even like practicing, which is a little different."
Donald is the biggest key to the Rams' aspirations, and the NFL's defensive player of the year is going full-speed in practice after being away from the team for several months in a contract holdout. He won't have any limit on his snaps in Oakland, coach Sean McVay confirmed Friday.
"We've been missing that little puzzle piece, the final piece, so it's been awesome," Brockers said. "He's been making some great jokes, and we're just happy to have him back. ... A.D. is a pro. He's been studying the playbook. He's been watching film. Literally, we plugged him in Youth Derek Stepan Jersey , and he knew everything he's supposed to do. We haven't had to slow down at all. We honestly picked up the tempo."
Donald missed the Rams' 2017 season opener after ending his holdout one day earlier. This year, he signed his new contract last Friday and reported to the Rams in time to get ample work before the games begin.
"You kind of know what to expect," Donald said of his second straight late arrival. "But you've got the opportunity to come back and basically get six practices under my belt before the first game, so I think that's going to be a big help for me, as far as getting adjusted out there."
Donald's partnership with Suh has been hotly anticipated ever since the Rams outmaneuvered several suitors last March to sign Suh to a one-year deal.
"He makes my job easier, you know?" Donald said. "When you've got guys out there like him and Brock next to you, you know the other guy is going to make plays, just like you make plays. You're just a little bit more comfortable."
Any talk about the potential success of this defense comes with a giant caveat in the middle.
While the defensive line and secondary are jam-packed with proven NFL talent, the Rams' linebackers are mostly unproven at an elite level. What's more, veteran inside linebacker Mark Barron seems increasingly unlikely to begin the season healthy after missing the first two days of practice this week with a flare-up of an Achilles tendon injury that has dogged him for months.
Untested Cory Littleton is taking over for traded middle linebacker Alec Ogletree, the Rams' leading tackler in four of the past five seasons. Samson Ebukam and Matt Longacre also are penciled into starting spots, and even defensive lineman Dominique Easley has taken practice reps as a pass-rushing outside linebacker.
If Barron can't play against the Raiders, Los Angeles is likely to put Ramik Wilson into the starting lineup for his Rams debut after three seasons in Kansas City.
"He's a smart player," said Phillips, who played Wilson more extensively in the preseason than other probable regular-season contributors. "He's started before in the league, and he's played well when he's been in there. He knows what to do."
Lindsey Vonn won her second World Cup downhill of the weekend on Sunday in a perfect dress rehearsal for the Pyeongchang Olympics.
It was the American’s third straight triumph in the discipline after also winning in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, two weeks ago.
”Two wins is as good as it gets, really. It’s just been a perfect weekend,” said Vonn, who plans to compete in downhill, super-G and the combined event at the Olympics. ”It has really been the exact preparation that I was hoping for going into South Korea.”
In a similar scenario to Saturday’s race, Vonn beat Sofia Goggia for the win. The American clocked 1 minute, 37.92 seconds on the Kandahar course to beat her Italian rival by 0.11 seconds, after edging her by just 0.02 the day before. Goggia won two consecutive downhills in January but crashed in the race where Vonn started her winning streak.
Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was a hundredth of a second further behind in third.
Vonn’s American teammate Stacey Cook crashed and was taken off the hill on a sled ”as a precaution,” the U.S. ski team said Logan Cooke Color Rush Jersey , adding that Cook ”is OK.” Another teammate, Jacqueline Wiles, damaged her left knee in a crash Saturday and was ruled out of the Olympics.
Winning another Olympic medal – after taking downhill gold in 2010 but missing the 2014 Sochi Games because of a knee injury – has been Vonn’s declared goal all season.
But after Pyeongchang, her focus will shift back to a record in the sport that has long been regarded as unbeatable.
Vonn’s 81st World Cup win on Sunday left her just five short of the all-time best mark set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark in the 1980s.
”You get a little greedy,” Vonn said. ”Once you keep winning, you want to win more. For sure, I will ski another season and see how high I can get the number. I know I can continue to win, I just don’t know for how long. I keep racking them up for as long as I can and we will see what number I can get to.”
Vonn has recovered from a rough start to her season, which saw her crashing twice in one of her favorite resorts, Lake Louise, and dealing with back and knee problems.
”I have really picked up a lot of momentum,” she said after Sunday’s win. ”I feel really good physically, mentally. And everything is working well, my equipment is working well, my preparation is perfect. It really couldn’t be better going into the Olympics.”
Vonn trailed Weirather by 0.30 seconds halfway down the course but found the fastest line in the turning final section.
The American’s lead came under threat a few minutes later. Goggia was ahead by 0.04 at the second and 0.07 at the fourth split time, but failed to match Vonn’s pace on the bottom part of the hill.
Still, Goggia was still content after finishing her run.
”I am pretty happy to come away from Garmisch with two solid runs, two solid races, solid skiing,” the Italian said. ”This is what I was hoping for after the crash in Cortina.”
While the downhill rivalry between Vonn and Goggia has been shaping up nicely going into the Olympics, Weirather made it clear the competition isn’t far off.
”I am going to the Olympics with confidence,” said Weirather, daughter of the two-time Olympic gold medalist from 1980, Hanni Wenzel. ”The race today was important. I know that I am up there with the best.”