The Los Angeles Rams open training camp July 27 at University of California-Irvine in Irvine, California. Here's a closer look at the Rams' camp, which will wrap up on Aug. 31.
Top storyline: There's plenty to pick from here, including the team's return to Los Angeles after an absence of more than two decades. But for that return to be successful, they need more production from the quarterback position. Enter rookie quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick whom the Rams traded six premium draft picks to move up and select. The Rams have been open about their desire for Goff to win the starting job sooner than later and he likely will, but his development through camp and the preseason will be critical in shaping the team's expectations and season.
If the starting QB has a passer rating of 85 or above, the Rams will have a chance for their first winning record since 2003: In 2015, the Rams were 6-0 when their quarterback had a passer rating above 85 and 1-9 when it was below that threshold. They don't need Goff to come in and dominate, they just need him to take care of the ball, make good decisions and occasionally come up with a big throw to keep the chains moving.
Player who will have fans buzzing: Sure, we could go with Aaron Donald or Todd Gurley but they had fans buzzing last year. Let's go with new middle linebacker Alec Ogletree, who was on the verge of a breakout season last year before an injury. He brings a level of athleticism and speed to his new position that could help elevate the defense to the lofty expectations it has had for the past couple of seasons.
Position battle worth watching: The Rams lost free safety Rodney McLeod to the Philadelphia Eagles, and there's no obvious replacement on the roster. But they're planning to take a look at backups Cody Davis and Christian Bryant after that duo rotated with the first-team defense during organized team activities. They also have veterans like Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson on speed dial in case they aren't comfortable with Davis and/or Bryant. Don't be surprised if this one is contested deep into the preseason.
That rookie should start: We've already covered Goff, and there's probably not another rookie here that should be considered. But one could make the case that rookie tight end Tyler Higbee deserves to get plenty of opportunities right out of the gate. Higbee had some impressive moments in OTAs and some in the organization believe he might already be the best true pass-catching tight end on the roster.
Veteran whose job is in jeopardy: Kicker Greg Zuerlein is back after finishing last in the league among regular kickers in field goal accuracy a year ago. The Rams vowed to bring in competition for him and signed undrafted rookie Taylor Bertolet out of Texas A&M to push him. Whether Bertolet is a legitimate threat to win the job remains to be seen, but the Rams will be closely monitoring the position throughout camp and the preseason.
Dealing with defensive changes: Under coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams have emphasized dominating on defense but have never been able to elevate to that level, at least not statistically. This year, the expectations are high once again, but it's fair to wonder if this group will take a step back because of the many changes it made in the offseason. They'll have new starters at middle linebacker, defensive end, cornerback and free safety, and cornerback Trumaine Johnson, linebacker Mark Barron and end William Hayes will be taking on bigger roles. Make no mistake, there's plenty of talent here, but there are also plenty of questions.
Gurley's ceiling: Conventional wisdom says players who have had ACL injuries don't get back to full strength both mentally and physically until they're two years removed from surgery. Gurley will be close to that this season and will get to go through his first full training camp. Running backs coach Skip Peete said there's no limit to what Gurley can accomplish in Year 2. The Rams would be wise to protect Gurley by giving him a breather here and there in camp, but having the extra on-field preparation should position him for a strong second season.
What fans will be saying after camp: Rams fans in Los Angeles will undoubtedly be saying how happy they are to have their team back. They'll also be wondering whether this group is ready to take the next step beyond mediocrity into full-fledged contender. Chances are, the answer to that question will be no, but if Goff shows promise and the record remains mediocre, there will be real hope for the future.
For daily updates from camp, check out the Los Angeles Rams clubhouse page.