INGLEWOOD, Calif.: Before Stan Kroenke grew to become the driving pressure behind the NFL’s return to Los Angeles, Jerry Jones had a number one position within the years of political maneuvering, arduous work and big development that led to the inaugural recreation at SoFi Stadium.
So it’s solely becoming that when Kroenke’s Los Angeles Rams open their $5 billion West Coast NFL showpiece on Sunday night time, their opponents can be Jones’ Dallas Cowboys.
Kroenke and Jones are long-standing allies on a mission to return professional soccer to the nation’s second-largest metropolis, which additionally occurs to be Jones’ birthplace. Although the absence of followers due to the coronavirus pandemic places an enormous asterisk on what ought to have been a triumphant event for the league and two of its most vital homeowners, the Rams and Cowboys will nonetheless get pleasure from a memorable night initially of latest eras for each franchises.
Jerry has advised us all in regards to the stadium, Dallas coach Mike McCarthy stated. I do know hes excited for the Rams group and whats gone into this stadium. I feel its just a bit smaller than AT&T (Stadium). Thats a incontrovertible fact that Im saying as Im winking my eye, however have been excited to be a part of that, no query. Its speculated to be an unbelievable venue.
McCarthy’s debut because the Cowboys’ first new coach in a decade is the opposite milestone occasion at SoFi Stadium. The Super Bowl winner at Green Bay takes over one of many NFL’s most gifted rosters with only one playoff victory prior to now half-decade to point out for it.
The Cowboys are a well-liked decide to be a right away Super Bowl contender beneath McCarthy, with quarterback Dak Prescott and operating again Ezekiel Elliott main an offense that was one of many NFL’s finest final season.
The outlook is murkier for the Rams, who missed the playoffs final season for the primary time in coach Sean McVay’s tenure. Their roster took a number of massive losses within the offseason, from operating again Todd Gurley and receiver Brandin Cooks to go rusher Dante Fowler and main tackler Cory Littleton.
The Rams face important obstacles to hitch the Cowboys as an elite NFC contender, however a minimum of they’ve received a stupendous new house. They held two scrimmages at SoFi Stadium to familiarize their gamers with their new environs, however the awe nonetheless hasn’t evaporated.
Im excited anyway, however Id be much more excited if we had followers, McVay stated.
Special groups coordinator John Fassel and kicker Greg Zuerlein each left Los Angeles for Dallas within the offseason after eight seasons along with the Rams. Zuerlein’s departure wasn’t terribly stunning after a decline in accuracy final season, however McVay appeared dissatisfied to lose the revered Fassel.
Fassel and Zuerlein spent these eight years alongside punter Johnny Hekker and lengthy snapper Jake McQuaide, who’re each nonetheless with the Rams.
I had loads of nice recollections (from) 4 years in St. Louis, 4 years in LA, Fassel stated. It can be cool in a approach, simply to compete towards the fellows that I coached for eight years there.
The Cowboys will ship 1,110-yard receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup together with promising rookie CeeDee Lamb towards a Rams secondary led by Jalen Ramsey, who grew to become the highest-paid defensive again within the NFL this week with a $105 million extension. Don’t anticipate Los Angeles to place Ramsey on an island towards Cooper: New Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley says Ramsey can be greater than only a cornerback in his new protection. Exactly what meaning can be revealed Sunday.
Gurley was the inspiration of the Rams’ offense for the previous half-decade, however he’s gone in a cost-cutting transfer. They’re more likely to alternate three operating backs in his place: veteran Malcolm Brown, rookie Cam Akers and second-year professional Darrell Henderson. Matching Gurley’s manufacturing and flexibility can be a tall order, and Dallas was pretty robust towards the run final season.
Jared Goff was drafted 134 picks earlier than Prescott in 2016, however Prescott has handed for extra yards (15,778 to 14,219) and touchdowns (97 to 87) with a better completion price (65.8% to 62.4%) and fewer interceptions (36 to 42). Goff received a four-year, $134 million extension that kicks in subsequent 12 months, however Prescott continues to be ready for his subsequent contract. McCarthy doesn’t anticipate it to be an element when each QBs start their fifth season, saying Prescott’s focus and self-discipline are very spectacular.
Player leaders on each groups havent disclosed whether or not theyll make any type of pregame protest after a summer time of social upheaval and requires racial justice. Jones has tried to stay supportive of his gamers whereas avoiding statements that will rile up the conservative phase of the Cowboys huge fan base.
This is a big difficulty, Jones stated. Im very delicate to that, and thats precisely why I’ve stated and can need our gamers to be very delicate to only how vital it’s to the vast majority of our followers, greater than another crew. Im very assured that on each side, our gamers, in addition to our followers, that we are able to come collectively for our grace. It is all about attempting to maneuver the ball ahead, see the place the opposite man is coming from.
AP Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.
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