BOCA RATON, Fla. – The NFL clearly is looking to cast a massive spotlight on the Rams.
It apparently wasn’t enough that the league ushered the Rams out of St. Louis to return to Los Angeles.
Now, it is featuring them in this year’s edition of the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” which will follow them through training camp and the preseason.
The NFL also has chosen the Rams as the first team to play a regular-season game in China in 2018.
The two developments were among the highlights from the league meeting that concluded Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan said he was “fine” with the Rams or any other team being considered for “Hard Knocks,” clearly expressing that he did not want his team to be selected.
As coach of the New York Jets, Ryan was the star of one of the more popular editions of the series, but has since indicated that it wasn’t one of his favorite experiences.
Ryan said New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick “knew what he was getting” in signing Bills restricted free-agent receiver Chris Hogan to a four-year contract worth $12 million.
“They paid a lot of money for him, but those guys make a difference,” Ryan said. “He’ll be a guy that contributes as a receiver. I don’t know if he’ll be a starter for them. He’ll be a contributor there, but he’ll be a major contributor as a special-teams player.
“Another guy we didn’t want to lose. That kid’s tougher than heck. I really like the guy.”
Philadelphia coach Doug Peterson on the Eagles’ acquiring the Bills’ defensive free-agent trio of linebacker Nigel Bradham and cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks: “I think the biggest thing is the fact that they’re back with” former Bills defensive coordinator “Jim Schwartz. Coach Schwartz really knows them and understands them and the type of athlete and the type of player they are and how well they’re going to fit in the scheme. These guys are good special-teams players, they’re going to be core special-teams guys for you, and they’re going to give you depth on defense.”
Peterson said Schwartz’s “attack-style” defense, which he found so challenging as an offensive coordinator and assistant coach in the NFL, is what made him an attractive choice to be his defensive coordinator.
“He’s done a great job over the years, and he’s developed pass-rushers,” Peterson said. “You look at guys like (Cliff) Avril, you look at Ndamukong Suh, guys that were impact players for him in Detroit. And then even go to Kyle Williams and Mario Williams in Buffalo, guys who can come off and really attack the passer. That’s what’s intriguing, when you can really put pressure with four instead of five or six, you don’t have to blitz all the time, makes it a dynamic defense.”
Ryan sounded as if he would miss his three former defenders.
“I think Nigel Bradham’s got a chance to be a great inside linebacker,” the coach said. “He’s got great cover skills, he’s tough. I like the kid, man. He’s a good football player. And Leodis McKelvin, I love his competitiveness. I didn’t want to lose any of those guys. Brooks, to me, is a special-teams player, but the thing I like about Brooks is he’s tough, he’s physical and he can run. So they’re getting two really good players, and then a guy that’s an outstanding special-teams player and provides depth, I think.”
Bills President Russ Brandon said the team has sold 53,500 season tickets and that its 91-percent renewal rate is a franchise record.