Riley Pierce, Grade 10
Randy Nace walks into huddle of Rams players
Nace: Alright boys, we gotta up the intensity today. The season’s getting closer, and we have a scrimmage with the Chargers next Thursday. If y’all are going for a championship, the real work starts today.
Aaron Donald: *goes to middle of the huddle* Let’s go boys! Work on three. ONE, TWO, THREE!!
*Team breaks off into groups. Camera goes to running backs and wide receivers.*
Van Jefferson: Hey Cam, how’s that hand doing?
Akers: They said it’s not broken or anything, just really swollen and purple. It’s all about pain tolerance, so if I can deal with it for the next 2-3 weeks, I’ll be all good.
Van Jefferson: Oh alright. Does it feel like you can do normal running back stuff?
Akers: Not really. But I got it all figured out. I’m just gonna hold the ball in my left hand whenever I can. By the time anyone realizes, I’ll be better and ready to go.
Van Jefferson: Yeah, that doesn’t sound like a smart idea. What about catching and when your right hand is on the outside.
Akers: Got that covered too. I told Matt what happened. He’s not going to throw the ball to me, and he’s going to call all of my run plays to the left.
Van Jefferson: Hiding stuff from coach is a bad idea, but, I mean, I guess you’ve got it all figured out.
Akers: Yea dawg. Don’t worry about me. You just stop dropping passes *They laugh*
Van Jefferson: *playfully* Yea, alright man.
*They walk away. Kevin O’Connell walks over with Matthew Stafford.*
O’Connell: Alright, when we run the scrimmage next week, our first play will be a hitch to Cooper on the right side. Then, we’re gonna go with a running back toss to the right.
Matt: Woah, coach. How about to the left? I trust our left tackle more than our right tackle.
O’Connell: I mean, we have to utilize both sides of the field, Matt. Or we could pull the left tackle over to the right side. I want to attack that right outside linebacker.
Matt: But what if we don’t, at least not during the preseason. There’s no reason to expose what is weak on their team when it doesn’t matter. When the season starts, then we can start exploiting their incompetence on the right edge.
O’Connell: Why do you care? It’s just a handoff to start out the series. I’ll run it to the left side, but we’re gonna do what I want to do. Ok?
*Camera pans to locker room after practice and goes to Cam Akers and Matt Stafford.*
Akers: *Smiling* What’s up Matt. How’s everything going?
Matt: Look man, I love you like a brother and I’d do anything for you, but I’m taking heat from Kevin about trying to fix plays for you. It’s gonna come out sooner or later.
Akers: Na, don’t worry about it. I got this.
Matt: No, you don’t “got this.” If you had this, there would be nothing to hide in the first place. You need to either fess up to coach, or deal with the pain of normal play. Cause I’m out.
Akers: Dawg, you can’t be out. I need you. If coach figures out I got hurt, I’ll be gone before you can say “unemployed.”
Matt: Ok, I’ll keep it going. But if coach so much as sniffs in my direction for this, I’m going to tell him.
Akers: Fine. But he won’t. I’m going to look too good during drills for him to suspect anything. I’m paying Sony $100 per practice to play poorly during the skills practices.
Matt: Cam! First of all, that’s too many people for shady business, too many variables. Second of all, that will get you kicked off the team, and the media will drag your name through the mud. Other NFL teams will pick you up if you just get hurt. You will never get a job again if people know that you are compromising the integrity of our franchise… Who are you?
Akers: It’s me. I’m just in survival mode. You, keep what you got going and don’t worry about the rest.
*Camera cuts to Nace talking to O’Connell.*
Nace: Kevin, I think we’ve got a problem.
O’Connell: Good, you see it too.
Nace: We need to get rid of all this standing in the pocket stuff. Matt is too good of a thrower on the run and it catches the defense off balance
O’Connell: What? I was thinking that we need more in the pocket stuff. If you had been watching the whole scrimmage, you would have seen that he needs that time.
Nace: That’s just because the defense had two-high safeties in on the last plays. I was watching. Now are we going to do more play-action passing?
O’Connell: *Sarcastically* You got it coach.
*The camera cuts to Matt on the run throwing absolute dimes to Cooper Kupp, Sony Michel, and Skowronek.*
Nace: *Turns to O’Connell* You see!
O’Connell: That’s all fine until you realize that Matt can’t throw the ball thirty times per game if he’s running 30 yards every time. He’s going to get tired. The defense will get used to it. We need to have a balanced offense so that those play action passes get chunk yardages, as a change of pace.
Nace: I get that, but it seems to me like we just work on conditioning. *Yells* Everyone on the line!!
O’Connell: I’m saying that too much of a good thing can be bad. Play-actions need to be a changeup, not our main thing. He’s gonna get hurt.
*Nace shakes his head and walks away to watch team run.*
*Camera cuts to running backs at lunch sitting down*
Akers: Man, I can’t wait to destroy these Chargers tomorrow. I promise y’all that I will collect at least two peoples’ ankles in this scrimmage.
Michel: Yea, that is if you play.
Akers: Listen Sony, we can coexist and be cool, or we can have problems. Which one is it gonna be?
Michel: I don’t care, whichever one lets me start this season.
Akers: Alright, I see how it is. My hand’s all healed up now, so there’s nothing holding me back from showing out tomorrow. You just start stretching so you don’t pull a hammy, old man.
Michel: Whatever, at least I’m getting paid. They’re giving me 5 dollars for every one that you make.
Akers: Whatever, I’ll see you out there then.
*Michel walks over to Jefferson and starts talking to him*
Michel: Man, I can’t stand that dude Cam Akers. He had the nerve to come up to me and say that I better watch out.
Jefferson: Dang, that’s mad talk coming from someone who can’t even play without his mommy.
Jefferson: Didn’t you hear in college that Cam couldn’t play a snap without his mom’s “special necklace.” It’s funny cause that thing’s made of pure plastic.
Michel: That’s hilarious, man.
Jefferson: *Food buzzer beeps* Ok, that’s my food. See ya tomorrow.
Michel: Yea for sure. *Stands thinking as camera fades to next scene*
*Camera goes to next day with players warming up and focuses in on Matt and Cam Akers*
Akers: Hey, Matt, that was my bad on the whole hurt hand situation. Thanks for holding it down for me.
Matt: No problem, man. I’m just glad you’re getting better.
Akers: Oh, yeah. I’m fully ready. My hand’s all good. I’m about to go off on ‘em.
Matt: Alright, I’ll be lookin’ for you out there.
O’Connell: Skill players, come gather around. *Waits for players to huddle up* Look men, this is what we’ve been preparing for, all that work you put in during the offseason. This is the start of the season, and it we want to make it to a Championship, we gotta start out strong today. I need to see maximum effort today. I don’t care how many zeros your contracts have, if I don’t see you busting your butts on the field, you’re out. I want every down to have maximum intensity: every route crisp, every throw on the money, every block forceful. Bring it on three. ONE! TWO! THREE!
Skill Players: Bring it.
Matt: *Looks at Cooper Kupp* Let’s go baby!
Cooper: This is our year!
*Ram’s offense lines up against Chargers Defense*
Matt: *Motioning for receiver to clear threw* Red, ninety! Set, hut!
*Pressure gets to Stafford quickly, but he gets the ball away to Akers for a first down*
Akers: All day!
Matt: *Calls team to huddle* Alright we’re gonna go Alpha Dog on three. Cooper, make sure to dig far enough inside before you cut out. Van, go burn your guy. Ready, BREAK! *Team lines up* Set, hut, hut, hut!
*Matthew scrambles out of the pocket and throws a post corner route to Van Jefferson*
Matt: *Quickly running to the huddle* Alright this is gonna be a toss to the strong side. Tyler, I want you on the strong side for protection. Ready, Break. *Team lines up* Ready, hut! Hut, hut, hike!
*Matthew snaps the ball but slightly trips on Whitworth’s leg moving backwards, causing his toss to Cam Akers to go slightly high. The ball goes back ten yards before Derwin James of the Chargers recovers the fumble.*
O’Connell: *As players run off field* Come on boys, we can’t have those mistakes.
Sony: *To Cam Akers* Yeah, we can’t have those mistakes.
Akers: Look, dawg. I’m not gonna do this with you. You ride the bench and you’re just trying to get into my head. It’s not gonna work. Just get better.
Sony: How about YOU don’t fumble! *He walks off*
*Camera cuts back to the field as the Chargers offense lines up against the Rams defense.*
Jalen Ramsay: Hey, Mike, I’m going to put clamps on you. I give you 20 yards, max.
Mike: Whatever man. I’ve eaten burritos bigger than you.
*Justin Herbert snaps the ball and throws it to Keenan Allen on a 20-yard slant route.*
Mike: Get the rest of your defense in order. Then talk to me.
Jalen: Whatever, you’ll see.
*After the huddle, Justin Herbert snaps the ball and hands it to Austin Ekeler for five yards. He hurries up to the line and hits Mike Williams on an eight-yard out route for the first down.*
Mike: My apologies, get yourself together before you talk to me. This is too easy.
*On the next play Justin Herbert gives a reverse handoff to Josh Palmer, who runs out of bounds after reaching the 50-yard line. Jalen Ramsay hits Mike Williams slightly late, but Mike flops and gets attention.*
Mike: AHH! My arm. *He fake cries in pain as the medical staff leads him off the field*
Jalen: Come on, dude. You know I didn’t hit you hard.
Aaron Donald: Jalen, if we want to make a championship run this year, we can’t have those mental lapses. I saw y’all jawing at each other. That hit was late and unnecessary. Get your head right.
Jalen: *Reluctantly* Alright, fine.
*Justin Herbert snaps the ball and throws a deep bomb to a wide-open Mike Williams, but Jalen Ramsay undercuts the route and picks off the pass.*
Jalen: *Chest bumping teammates and celebrating as he runs off the field* Yeaahhhh Buddy!
Aaron: Nice pick but just dial it back a little bit. We gotta stay focused. You’re acting like that was your first career interception or something.
Jalen: I get what you’re saying about getting locked in, and I’m with that. But I’m gonna take this God-given joy with me wherever I go. I’m going to celebrate the small things. Maybe it works for you, but this is how I get locked in.
Aaron: Just don’t be a distraction.
Jalen: I’m not distracting anybody. Get off my case man. You’re acting like a parent.
Aaron: Whatever you say, son.
Jalen: *sarcastically* Talk to me when you actually get to the quarterback, ok. Thanks. *walks away*
*Scene cuts to locker room after scrimmage*
Nace: Good job men. We’ve got a long way to go, but way to start our season off strong. Our defense was making first-time tackles, our O-line was blocking really well, and Matt was throwing absolute dimes. Everybody did their jobs. If we want to make a Super Bowl run, we have to bring that kind of intensity on every down. I have to shout someone out who did an especially good job. 120 rushing yards, 40 receiving yards, and two touchdowns, great work Sony.
*Team whoops and hollers*
Akers: *as him and Sony are walking away from team* Good job man. You deserve it.
Sony: *sarcastically* Gee thanks man. *Seriously* I keep trying to tell you: We aren’t friends. Plus I know your weakness.
Akers: What weakness, I just had an off game. I’m still younger, faster, and stronger than you. You better be nice to me before you lose your job completely.
Sony: Oh! Shiver me timbers! I’m so scared! *Walks away*
*Camera cuts to Sony Michel talking to Van Jefferson*
Jefferson: Good game, Sony. At this rate you’ll have the starting spot by the opening game.
Sony: Yea for sure. *Reaching into his pocket* Hey, I gotta show you something. *Pulls out a necklace*
Jefferson: Yooooo no way! Did you take that?
Sony: SHHHH! Be quiet. Nobody knows this but you. You were right. He can’t play well without it. Cam had like 20 yards and he fumbled. I’m gonna keep this.
Jefferson: Look, I’m all for getting back at Cam, but if you get caught then you’re off the team.
Sony: I know, I know. I’m just going to hide it in my car until I get home. Also, why do you have beef with Cam?
Jefferson: Back in high school we went to a party together and got into a car crash. I was unconscious, but he was awake and ran away. When the cops got there, they tested me for alcohol, and I got a positive result. He ran away like a coward when I was at my lowest. I’ll never forget that. He’s apologized every day since then, but I’ve never forgiven him. I was lucky that someone came to bail me out, and then that was when I found football. I was able to get back on my feet and get college offers.
Sony: Dang, I thought my reason was bad enough. I just don’t want him to take my spot, so I’m trying to get in his head.
Jefferson: As long as you don’t get suspected of taking it. Don’t say anything to him or to anyone that might suggest you have his mom’s necklace.
Sony: *Thinking about when he told Akers about knowing his weakness* *Oddly* Yea for sure.
*Camera cuts to Odell Beckham Jr. at doctor’s office*
Odell: So what does it look like, doc.
Doctor: Well, I see a partial tear in your ACL. I need to examine it again to figure out the percentage torn. That will ultimately tell you if you need the surgery.
Odell: Ok. I can walk with full pressure on it, so that has to mean something, right.
Doctor: Let’s see.
*Odell gets up and starts walking with a stiff leg*
Doctor: Well, that looks like you’re afraid to bend your knee because of the swelling. Let’s test out your range of motion first. *Starts folding Odell’s leg back* Tell me when to stop.
Odell: Stop! Stop!
Doctor: Your range of motion is severely inhibited by this swelling. Let me test out your ligaments.
*Goes through all typical knee procedures to examine ACL, MCL, Meniscus, PCL, and kneecap*
Doctor: Your MCL, PCL, and kneecap are good, but I sense about a 30% tear in your ACL. And often with ACL tears comes some kind of injury of the Meniscus ligament, so the meniscus cap is loose. But it is the red part, so the meniscus will heal in about 6-8 weeks. Typically the percentage of the ACL torn tells you the odds of you getting surgery or not. We try to avoid surgery at all costs because that would mean 9-12 months of recovery time, but you have about a 30% chance of getting surgery, depending on how it heals.
Odell: So what’s the timeline looking like? Will I be back by the start of the season.
Doctor: Let’s hope for playoffs for the moment. This is a complicated injury, and I don’t want you to risk a career-ending injury just for a few regular season games.
Odell: Doc, this is my contract year. I gotta help the team, and I gotta get my money.
Doctor: The best thing you can do right now is do these physical therapy exercises every day. The more you do them, the faster you’ll be back on that playing field.
Odell: These exercises are lame, but I’ll get them done. *Leaves the room*