While he hasn’t thrown a single pass in a game for the St. Louis Rams, quarterback Nick Foles has made the most of his transition period to a new team.
Since arriving in a March trade from the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford and a draft pick, Foles has gone out of his way to assert himself within all aspects of the franchise. That’s important for a team that has spent the past two seasons dealing with Bradford’s knee injuries and a series of backup quarterbacks.
Foles, 26, went right to work during organized team activities (OTAs) last month.
“The interesting thing is from the first day in all those phases, the first day you go in the building and throw with receivers and no coaches, whatever phase that may be, it seems like from that day that skill group was like ‘Wow, we love this guy,’’’ Rams General Manager Les Snead said Thursday at Rams Park. “It’s not like he had been the quarterback here for two years; you had a case of his first day at school, hello to everybody, we don’t know each other. He kind of took charge there.
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“You can tell those guys will battle, he’s done a nice job with leadership. That’s the biggest thing I can say about him. Great guy.”
Snead said in his experience, it’s rare to see that immediate type of assimilation.
“I always put it in perspective,” said Snead, who confirmed he’s had talks with Foles and his agent about a contract extension with Foles in the final year of his current deal. “It’s one thing if you’ve been around three years and you walk in (and say) ‘Hey, let’s go.’ This guy is walking in the locker room and doesn’t know anybody and (says) ‘Hey, let’s go.’ It’s a little tougher.”’
In three seasons covering 28 games with the Eagles, Foles completed 61.1 percent of his passes (550-for-893) for 6,753 yards and 46 touchdowns with 17 interceptions. That includes a memorable 2013 season that saw the former University of Arizona star throw for 2,891 yards and 27 TDs with only two interceptions.
If Foles stays healthy, could that help a young Rams team that returns all 11 starters on defense and the majority of the skill positions on offense. Snead said Foles has won 63 percent of his games as a starter in the NFL, another good sign for a team trying to take a step up in the standings.
“That’s one of the big reasons going back to Sam, it would have been hard to let Sam go and not have a replacement,” Snead said. “Because we’ve kind of lived through that. Once Nick became available, that made it very intriguing because he’s actually taken a team to the playoffs.
“I’m not saying it’s all him, but he was part of a good organization, good team, good coaching staff, and they did what they had to do.”
Snead also addressed the status of 2015 first-round pick Todd Gurley, the star running back from Georgia coming off an ACL injury. On Tuesday, Gurley passed the Rams’ rookie conditioning test along with the rest of the draft class, showing his comeback may be a little ahead of schedule.
Snead said the rookies conditioning testing is harder than what the Rams put the veterans through, especially since it was 98 degrees that day with high humidity.
“It’s harder,” Snead said. “It’s the same distance, (but) it’s more stressful. All the strength and conditioning (guys) will tell you that the stopping and starting more...St. Louis can get hot and that day was hot. I called that a South Alabama day where you woke up and it was (hot and humid). That was the most impressive thing. The thing about Todd is he’s a large man coming off an ACL, it’s really hot and he’s rolling.”
While Gurley has shown positive signs, the Rams aren’t accelerating his comeback pace. It helps when the team has two proven running backs with NFL experience in Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham.
“He still needs time,” Snead said. “But in this scenario ... like we’ve always said there’s no black and white answer. It’s all gray, so you have to kind of measure him on a weekly basis to see where he’s at. How he’s getting stronger and also how he’s recovering and how everything’s handling (with) increased intensity. As all that meshes together, that will determine the date.”
Could Gurley be ready for the season opener Sept. 13 against Seattle?
“That would be a false black and white deadline,” Snead said. “We’ll kind of see how it goes from there.”