THOUSAND OAKS — The carnage nine minutes away from their California Lutheran University headquarters overnight put the Rams’ week into a whole new perspective.
The shock waves of 12 innocent people murdered in a mindless shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill, less than five miles from their practice field, imposed a whole new context of loss and adversity.
“Our organization’s thoughts and prayers and condolences go out to all the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy,” Rams coach Sean McVay told his daily press conference Thursday. “As coaches and players we get upset about losing a football game, but this reminds you what’s really important.
“And, what you can never take for granted.”
No Rams employees were involved in the shooting.
But it dominated conversation all day as the Rams prepared to host the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, following the season’s first loss at New Orleans.
“We’re all talking about it,” said Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. “We feel for the people who were hurt in this, the victims and their families. But it doesn’t just affect those people involved, it affects all of us up here.”
Running back Todd Gurley II couldn’t get over the fact that it happened so close to where he works.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth spoke for the team at its morning meeting.
“I think we all feel a need to support the Thousand Oaks community in every way possible in this hour of tragedy,” Whitworth said. “Not sitting around and wondering; we have to get our feet on the ground and get involved to help.”
By their afternoon practice session, the Rams were able to focus more on a Seahawks team they had to rally to beat 33-21 on Oct. 7.
“They have an identity now — they run the football,” said Phillips, whose unit gave up 184 yards rushing to Chris Carson and Mike Davis. “They’re going to attack us on the ground.”
Phillips blamed himself, not cornerback Marcus Peters, for the 72-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas that sealed the New Orleans game. The scheme was far too complex to permit rapid adjustment after the Saints went to an empty backfield.”
“We tried to do too much last week, and it cost us,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “We’ve made changes. That’s not going to happen again.”