EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher insisted Tuesday that his team's decision to scrimmage the Dallas Cowboys just north of his team's potential future Los Angeles home has nothing to do with the possibility of relocation.
"The two are not related," Fisher said. "The Cowboys have practiced against somebody just about every year there. The facility is such that it welcomes another team. So we talked to a number of teams besides the Cowboys about working together with them and Cowboys is really the only one that worked out."
The Rams and Cowboys will scrimmage against each other on Aug. 17 and 18 and the Rams will practice alone in Oxnard, Calif. on Aug. 19. Those practices will follow the Rams' Aug. 14 preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders. The Rams will fly to Los Angeles from Oakland after that game and return to St. Louis in the middle of the week before moving on to Tennessee to play the Titans in the second preseason game.
While there's certainly plenty of reason to wonder whether the Rams have ulterior motives in practicing so close to Los Angeles, where owner Stan Kroenke has planned the construction of a football stadium in nearby Inglewood, Fisher said his goal was to give his team a chance to get additional practice repetitions outside of its four preseason games.
"I think big picture it will help us," Fisher said. "We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think it was going to be beneficial. Depending on the play time for the starters in the first preseason game, this creates another opportunity for them to compete and get better aside from preseason games. You have a full padded practice against another opponent."
The Rams have started the past two seasons with 1-3 records and have made it a point of emphasis to try to get off to a better start in 2015. Linebacker James Laurinaitis said practicing the Cowboys could help in that regard.
"Having a chance to practice against another team in camp this year will be something that’s very beneficial for us," Laurinaitis said. "It’s going to be physical. It’s going to be a battle so knowing that going in, I think that’s something we’ve always lacked. I think we’ve always been a little rusty out of the gate as far as defensively. I don’t think there will be any excuses this year but especially when we get that good work against Dallas."
Fisher and the Rams began exploring options for training camp scrimmages back in April and actually at one point looked poised to host the Indianapolis Colts in St. Louis. But when the preseason schedule came out, the Rams found out they didn't play the Colts until the third week. Fisher looked at other options and ultimately settled on Oxnard and the Cowboys after talking to coach Jason Garrett.
"We visited with the Cowboys months ago, I visited with Jason and it’s gonna work," Fisher said. "Once the preseason schedule came out, it made sense for us to just kind of shoot down after the Friday night game in Oakland down to L.A. then move out to Thousand Oaks area and practice with them in training camp for a couple of days. So it kind of shortens camp up a little bit but it’s the first time this group been through that experience and had the opportunity to practice against another team, a good football team. I would think we would benefit from it."
Remaining Rams fans in Los Angeles also figure to benefit from the chance to see their favorite team up close for a few days. And whether Fisher or anybody else on the Rams wants to admit it, it's probably safe to assume the organization will be taking some notes on how its received in its three-day Hollywood cameo.