THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Will Hayes was in the locker room in the early stages of Sunday's second quarter, getting an injured ankle evaluated, when he saw fellow defensive lineman Eugene Sims enter, moments after being thrown out for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"I have to go out there," Hayes said then, as told by Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher late Monday afternoon. "I have to go."
Said Fisher: "There was no way Will should've returned."
Hayes, one of the Rams' starting defensive ends, is expected to be limited in practice this week and his status for this Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals could be in question. A deeper issue for Fisher is the amount of times his team continues to be penalized. It was a major point of emphasis during training camp, with his Rams among the eight most-penalized teams in the NFL in each of Fisher's previous four seasons as coach.
So far this year?
"It doesn't look good," Fisher said. "We've addressed it, and we'll continue to address it."
The Rams have been hit with the third-most penalty yards, 249, and two of their defensive players have already been ejected from games. It was Aaron Donald in Week 1 and then Sims in Week 3. Fisher wouldn't go into what sparked the unsportsmanlike conduct, which occurred after an extra point attempt, but said Sims was "remorseful" after the game, apologizing to him and his teammates.
"No place for it," Fisher said. "No place for it at all. ... It's going to be addressed [Tuesday]. It falls under that category of the pre-snap and post-snap penalties that you just can't have."
Gurley on his way: Fisher called Todd Gurley's season-long 16-yard run on Sunday "one of the better runs I’ve seen in the last 20 years." Gurley quickly found a hole to his right, exploded to the second level, got tripped up twice, spun around, and managed to stay on his feet for an extra seven yards or so. He scored two touchdowns, but finished the game with 85 yards on 27 carries, falling short of triple-digit rushing yards for the 10th time in his past 11 games.
"If you watch it, he’s really close," Fisher said. "He was even closer than really close. We’re fine there; we’ll be all right. ... The hundred-yard games and those kind of things, they’ll come."
Going for two: The Rams somewhat surprisingly went for a two-point conversion with an 11-point lead and 4:38 remaining. Taking the extra point to go up 12 would've at least forced the Bucs to require two touchdowns, while staying at 11 meant they could tie it with a touchdown, a two-point conversion and a field goal. Here was Fisher's explanation: "We were up by 11, which in my brain is three scores: it’s touchdown, two-point conversion and a field goal. What I want to do is, I want to try to get to 13. ... Because if I got to 13, then that’ll put pressure on their place kicker [Roberto Aguayo] for two scores, because he’d been struggling.”
Gaines closing in: Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines, who has been nursing an ailment in his left thigh since the third preseason game, has a "really good chance" of playing this Sunday, Fisher said. Gaines would replace Troy Hill as the second outside cornerback, opposite Trumaine Johnson. Hill played ahead of Coty Sensabaugh for most of Week 2 and all of Week 3.
Cooper, Spruce update: Rookie receivers Pharoh Cooper (shoulder) and Nelson Spruce (knee) will continue to practice this week, but Fisher is unsure about their status for this Sunday. If healthy, Cooper would be the No. 3 receiver and Spruce could be a weapon on third downs.