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After 8 modest years in Thousand Oaks, the Los Angeles Rams leave their ‘temporary’ training home

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — When Sean McVay became the Los Angeles Rams’ head coach, he was told the team’s decidedly modest training complex in a back corner of the city’s outer suburbs was only a temporary arrangement.

“Temporary” turned out to mean eight years.

While most NFL teams train and work in lavish, spacious, multimillion-dollar temples of athletic excellence, the Rams have spent McVay’s entire tenure in a series of basic modular buildings strung together on a windswept stretch of the Cal Lutheran University campus, nearly 50 miles from palatial SoFi Stadium.

But when McVay gathered the Rams around him one last time for one final speech on the last day of their minicamp Tuesday, the coach could finally look toward the future.

That practice also was the Rams’ last in Thousand Oaks — at least, that’s the plan.

The Rams are moving this summer to Woodland Hills, a well-to-do Los Angeles neighborhood about 25 miles closer to their stadium and downtown. They’ll occupy more temporary buildings on another suburban site — but in a spot where owner Stan Kroenke finally will build a permanent training complex at some undetermined point in the future.

McVay didn’t allow the Rams’ modest circumstances to prevent him from becoming one of the most accomplished active coaches in the NFL, and he still has no major complaints about the pedestrian settings for his lofty achievements. He doesn’t even really mind not having a window in his office for these past seven years, despite the teasing he’s received from friends and fellow coaches who enjoy the luxury of sunlight.

“It’s been great,” McVay said. “I love the privacy out here. The only downside is really when it gets windy. The facilities, I think it’s great. You’re in close quarters to people. That stuff doesn’t bother me. As long as the film works, as long as the players have enough space in the weight room and the locker room … but later on in the year, these Santa Ana winds can inhibit your ability to get better, so that’s the one thing I will not miss.”

Indeed, the biggest drawback to the Thousand Oaks facilities is their complete lack of protection from rain or wind — a factor that only comes into play a few times every year in sunny Southern California, but a problem nevertheless, particularly when the Rams are making a winter playoff run.

The winds can swirl over the nearby hills onto the practice fields, and they’ve forced McVay to cancel or to curtail his practices several times.

“I hate it for the kickers,” McVay said. “They have to adjust their stroke because they’re trying to overcompensate for winds that usually aren’t in alignment with the settings that we’re going to play in. Most of the quarterbacks we’ve had are able to drive the ball through the wind. They throw a tight spiral that cuts through. But it’s not conducive for getting better, unless you’re playing in those settings.”

The Rams have erected a large temporary outdoor tent at their complex several times, particularly for open-air practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it wasn’t as good as a proper domed practice facility, and it frequently felt perilous in the powerful winds.

“There was a lot of times in COVID when I thought that tent might be coming down on us,” McVay said with a grin. “You have a two-minute team meeting and you’re trying to reach the back of the room, and then you’re just shot after that in terms of your voice. That’s probably why my voice is always so hoarse.”

The Rams’ new temporary facility is far from finished. The football fields aren’t planted yet, among many other projects that must be completed before training camp ends at Loyola Marymount University in August.

But the team insists it will be ready for the next chapter in this temporary saga.

“Cal Lu has been great,” McVay said. “It’s been awesome being here. We’ll probably just pick this facility up and go plant it at Woodland Hills, and then we’ll see when the real thing is ready eventually.”

NOTES: McVay had no update on the Rams’ ongoing negotiations with QB Matthew Stafford, who wants more guaranteed money in his contract. But the coach expects his franchise quarterback to be in training camp. Backups Jimmy Garoppolo and Stetson Bennett also will be in camp. … McVay expects RB Kyren Williams to be ready to practice next month. The NFL’s third-leading rusher last season has been limited by a foot injury during the offseason program. … The Rams are less certain about new CB Tre’Davious White, who tore his right Achilles tendon in Week 4 last season with Buffalo. White participated in Tuesday’s walkthrough. “He’s got a lot of good stuff done on the side, and you can see he’s really locked in and engaged on the meeting side,” McVay said. “As far as what his actual process will be in training camp, we’ll see where he’s at. … I don’t think we want to pigeonhole ourselves into one approach.”



AP Sports Writer