Friday, September 23, 2022

Rams’ Raheem Morris reacts to reuniting with a player he once cut

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For Takkarist McKinley, joining the Los Angeles Rams is much more than a City of Angels moment coming full circle for the former UCLA Bruins star.

It’s also much more than the 26-year-old’s attempt to salvage a career in which others have dubbed him a first-round bust – as he has yet to break double figures and has recently been dealing with a torn Achilles tendon. For the 6-foot-2, 265-pounder, this Rams opportunity provides another moment for him:

Reconnects with the head coach who separated him from the Atlanta Falcons.

Raheem Morris has spoken out for the first time since signing Wednesday, Sept. 21 to bring McKinley over the Tennessee Titans practice team. The Rams’ second-year defensive coordinator revealed where things once stood between him and “Takk,” shared what that moment was like when he released the former No. 26 overall and finally how their relationship since leaving Atlanta was.

One of the first questions Morris was asked in his media session on Thursday, Sept. 22, concerned the defensive end he once coached on an interim basis.

“My background at Takk was both rocky and good, no matter where it was,” Morris said.

The decision to part ways with McKinley came on November 9, 2020 — after McKinley posted a barrage of tweets showering the Falcons with hopes he would be traded. McKinley was eventually fined for his outburst on social media, according to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal.

Since leaving, McKinley has had brief pit stops with the Cleveland Browns and most recently the Titans. In the former, he only lasted one season and started in just two games.

But even when McKinley changed the area code, the man who had helped cut him still found a way to keep in touch with him.

“Obviously I had to cut Takk in Atlanta for various reasons in Atlanta. As a head coach, of course, at the time it happened, we had our disagreements and things like that,” Morris said. “But we’ve always stayed pretty close, especially last year and years ago. I could always talk to him about his personal life, I could always talk to him about his kids, being a father, some of the things that brought us together.

McKinley comes in during a time when Leonard Floyd is struggling with a knee injury, although Floyd has been seen going through exercises with a special sleeve fit over the injured condition.

Perhaps Aaron Donald will get additional new help in the form of McKinley. And on Thursday, McKinley got his first chance to wear the Rams’ training uniform.

“I haven’t really seen anything yet. But I’ve heard some good things about him and what he can bring,” Donald told reporters Thursday. “I’m just excited to see him train obviously and if he gets some opportunities to see him in the game then see what he can bring.”

Meanwhile, Morris smiled at the fact he’s being given a new opportunity to work with McKinley – he prides himself on being invested in his players, regardless of how they’ve performed in the past.

“We always want to have the chance to give people a second chance,” Morris said. “He’s a guy who can help us in the pass rush and he’s a guy I think deserves a second chance. And hopefully he can come in and do some really good things for us.

“I’m fully invested in the players I coach and the players I deal with no matter what the outcome and how it develops,” Morris continued. “I’m proud of this ability to be able to do that.”

“I’m fully invested in the players I coach and the players I deal with no matter what the outcome and how it develops,” Morris continued. “I’m proud of this ability to be able to do that.”

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