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Steve Avila, Los Angeles Rams Guard

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
January 9, 2024 4:42 pm

Steve Avila, Los Angeles Rams Guard

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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January 9, 2024 4:42 pm

Los Angeles Rams Guard joins Zach

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The Rams are back in the playoffs, and we can't wait for this one coming up this weekend.

Matthew Stafford of the Rams going back home against the Detroit Lions, my favorite matchup for wildcard weekend. And now joining us, this man's having a dominant, and I mean a dominant rookie season. He's Steve Avila, who's kind enough to join us.

Rookie offensive lineman for the LA Rams was picked in the second round of this past NFL Draft, and he's kind enough to join us on a busy week for him on CBS Sports Radio. Steve, appreciate the time. Congratulations on all your success, and how you been? I've been doing good, man. Thanks for having me. Well, thanks so much for coming on. So let me first start you off. When you got the phone call and you get drafted early on in the second round by the Rams, what was your first thought when you found out LA was going to be your new home?

Oh man, that process was crazy. Just, I mean, there's a lot of not knowing, you know, where you're going to be at, but I mean, you know, I remember getting a call from Thousand Oaks, and my first thought was like, where the hell is Thousand Oaks? But yeah, it's California, and you know, you can't really complain. I mean, there's a lot of history back here. You know, obviously came off a Super Bowl run, or they won the Super Bowl a couple years ago, but it's exciting, man. It's a fun place to be. There's a lot of good people, a lot of great people on the team.

I'm excited to be here. Obviously, you're going to be confident in your abilities. You know what you're capable of, but sometimes it just doesn't translate well when you go from college to the NFL. How has this transition from the way that it looks from the outside looking in just been such an easy one for you? Yeah, I mean, one thing that I've always prided myself in is just taking in as much coaching as I can, whether it's from the coaches, from the players, from people's experiences, and I felt like I've asked the right questions, and I feel like I've done the right things to make this transition as smooth as possible.

I'm not going to say that it wasn't hard because it kind of was. I mean, coming in, I mean, you have just such big expectations. You don't want to let people down. You don't let yourself down, but at the end of the day, I mean, you do what you got to do, and you know, things are going to turn out, and I felt like they just panned out the way they're supposed to be, you know, this year. So two months ago, it looked like this team wasn't going to make the playoffs, and now you guys are the hottest team in the NFL, winning seven out of your last eight games. How do you explain what you guys have been able to accomplish over the last eight games? Yeah, I mean, it's a game of inches.

You know, that's really what it comes down to. A lot of the games we lost were close, but I mean, you know, the next day, we'd go into practice, and we'd fix the things that we needed to fix. McVeigh definitely prides, you know, us and prides himself in being able to be mentally tough and, you know, go through things you need to go through to get to where you need to be, and I feel like we've just done that. We've had the mindset of winners.

You know, we are a younger team, but we didn't let that stop us, and I feel like a lot of the things that we've done, you know, just proves that. Before your time, Todd Gurley used to have such a successful career, but as great a success that he had, it ended very quickly, and that's the unfortunate part of the NFL. Ever since then, LA has been trying to find their consistent running back, and Kyron Williams has now taken that baton this year and is making a big time statement, and he's been a big part of your success down the end of the season, down the home stretch of the season. You know him so well, blocking for him each and every week. Just what have you been seeing from your teammate that's been able to make him have this success in the final two months of the year?

I mean, as cliche as it might sound, man, the mindset, you know, you just have to have that mindset of, you know, I'm going to go and get it, and that's just definitely who he is, you know. Even as a person, he definitely is a little, he's a burst of energy as soon as he gets on the field. He brings the energy when we get in the huddle, and that's definitely encouraging, you know, being an offensive lineman.

So, you know, I know he, I knew he was, he was always a good player. I mean, when I first got here, I think he was at RB2, but I mean, you know, everything's panned out, and, you know, he's doing what he's doing, and I'm excited, you know, to be blocking for him. You have so many different people in a locker room, Steve Avila, who joins us right now, and what makes this Rams team so unique is you have guys that are accomplished, like, right at the top of their craft in a Cooper Cup. You have Aaron Donalds, who's one of the greatest defensive players of all time.

Matthew Stafford, who's finally getting his respect in the league after winning a Super Bowl, but then you guys got some youngsters like yourself, like Kyron, and then Pukanuku, who's been one of the best stories in the NFL this year. Just how about the dynamic and the team chemistry in the locker room right now that's brewing at LA? Yeah, man, it's just, it's high. I mean, I feel like it's always been like that, even when we were, what, three and six. It's always, there's not been a disconnect in the locker room ever, and that's just one thing, you know, you got to give props to with, you know, the staff here is just picking the players. I've said this before, but, you know, they've picked really good players, but they've also picked really good men, and, you know, it's fun being around the locker room. You know, people encourage each other. People always try to pick each other up, and that's definitely why I feel like we're making a good run at this thing. You know how tough it is, and you're going through it right now, and you're excelling as a rookie in this league to see what Pukanuku is doing right now. If it wasn't for CJ Stroud, I think any other year, this guy would have been the Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL.

For sure. I mean, coming, when we went into camp, you know, began, he was, he was making plays like that, and there's kind of like a little, you know, thing going around. It's like, who is this?

You know what I mean? But, I mean, I knew, I've had talks with him, and he's always had that thought of, you know, I'm the best receiver there is, and that's definitely, you know, what it took and what it takes, and, you know, he's having an amazing season. That's one of my guys, man, and I'm just so happy for him. We know the rookie records that he set this year, and you know what you're doing on a football field as well as a rookie. When you have this much early success, you do start to wonder, well, what's the next level that you guys could take it to as some youngsters?

That's got to be fun to think about. Definitely. I mean, we drafted a lot of rookies, and I know that all of us can contribute, and it was very much expected of us, you know, as soon as we got drafted, you know, because just how young we were going to be, and I'm really excited for the future. I do feel like the Rams are going to have a really bright future. We definitely encourage each other. We know what needs to be done, and, you know, that's just the culture that set around here. You walking into that locker room.

It probably can be intimidating. You know, I know it's a job, but when you have Aaron Donald on the defense and Matthew Stafford on the offense, those are some pretty legendary names. What impressed you the most so far being on the offensive side of the ball with your quarterback and Matthew Stafford? Yeah, man, he's just so locked. He knows so much, and it's almost like mind blowing, and like I remember thinking like I wouldn't want anybody else, you know, back there because he just knows so much about the game that he can improvise, and he knows what's coming and when it's coming, and I just I wouldn't expect that from someone who's younger.

He's played so much ball, and, you know, I'm just so thankful, you know, that he's back there. So, yeah. Now, I know people will say that this is just another game, but it's not, right? It's a playoff game, and then also for him, he's going back to a place that he called home for all those years. Just what a staffer been like this week, and I don't think you need extra motivation, but is there some extra motivation knowing what this game could probably mean personally for your quarterback? I mean, not so much geared towards that. It's so much more just geared towards, you know, winning the game.

I mean, we have a story in itself of not people not having high expectations for us, and we came in and made the playoffs. I know this is going to be, you know, a big game from him, you know, going back home to Detroit, but at the end of the day, you know, we're going to have that mindset of just going in and winning. You know, you can't really just think about a lot of that stuff when you're on the field. It's going to be a fun one to be a part of. It's going to be a fun one.

I'm sure to watch for you. But, you know, at the end of the day, we're all just trying to win this game. I don't know if you guys needed more confidence because you guys have won seven out of your last eight games, but I want to ask you, Steve Avila, about the Ravens game, because that was a back and forth game. And even though you guys lost in overtime with the punt return, I think that was a game where people started to say, OK, the Rams didn't win that game, but they just went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the league. Did you guys feel like you gained a little confidence even though you lost that game as bizarre as that seems to the Baltimore Ravens? I mean, yeah, but I feel like if you go back and look at our other games, there's that's a lot of what happened this year.

Again, like I said, it's a game of inches. I mean, that second week against the forty niners, I know we stuck in there for quite a while and it came down to just a few plays. What else are the Eagles? The Eagles came down to a few plays and I just feel like that's just a testament to what what we can bring to the table. And I'm really confident, you know, after winning this last game and just our past experience about, you know, making a good run at Super Bowl.

All right. When you walk in that locker room and you see Aaron Donald, you've been an offensive lineman and no one who Aaron Donald is. What was your first conversation like with Aaron Donald?

Just wonder it. Oh, man, it's not much talking. I'll tell you that it's a lot of people don't understand, man.

Like you grow up watching these people. I saw him on TV all the time and he's just the staple of what a defensive lineman is. I think I brought this up before, but I remember meeting a couple of my buddies in college and be like, you know, how many times do you think you could block them in our head?

Maybe like three out of 10 times. And I went back to tell them that it would be zero because just he's just so good at what he does. You know, he's definitely gave me a few pointers when we're on the field. You know, I'm learning going against him and that's all you can ask for.

You know, it's the best of the best. And it's just such a blessing, you know, going against someone like that at practice. Yeah. And I would have to imagine when you go up against the standard in practice, it makes the game. I know you go up against great defensive players each and every week, but it makes it probably a little bit easier, right?

Yeah, for sure. I mean, mentally it does. I mean, that's the best. I feel like that's the best you're going to see with Aaron Donald. And, you know, it usually takes a couple of snaps, you know, for it in a game to see how someone's going to play it. And then in my head, I'm usually like, and Donald's better than this guy.

That's usually how I carry myself. And I'm not taking away from anything different because everybody is an amazing player. But at the end of the day, you know, I see the best at practice. Do you feel like you guys have gotten the respect that you deserve? Because, you know, obviously everyone's going to talk about the 49ers going to the Super Bowl, but if the 49ers don't get to the Super Bowl this year, I think you guys can be right there in the NFC, especially with you guys playing your better football here and your best football in the final two months of the season.

Yeah, for sure. I mean, I feel like we still have a lot left to prove. I feel like there's a lot, you know, people are saying about how look, you know, plays a role and how we got to where we got.

But, you know, I just from on the inside, man, it's truly hard work. It's truly just the dedication and people pouring their hearts into this game. And that's just such an exciting feeling to feel exciting to see, you know, people lock in and be that type of player they need to be to play playoff ball.

So this next game is definitely going to be amazing. You know, I look back at your team headed into this season. People wondered what Stafford and cup would be coming off injuries. There was all this retirement speculation with McVeigh and then also with Aaron Donald from those four guys in particular. Did you sense like a little extra something this year when all four of those guys were doubted heading into the season from afar? I mean, for sure. I mean, I feel like they knew how young we were going to be.

And they knew that, you know, the leaders that they are, they might need to, you know, show us around a little bit more. But at the end of the day, I feel like a lot of what they were doing was leading by example. For example, Kobe Turner, who's been under Aaron Donald's wing the whole year. It's so nice to see how much he's improved from camp because I go against him every day too. But from camp to where he's at now and just seeing him, you know, tie the sack record, that's just, you know, the testament of having that role model in the locker room.

And that's definitely what those four guys bring. You've never played, obviously, an NFL playoff game before with this being your first go at it in the NFL. Can you take anything from the experience at TCU, especially with what you guys were able to do up against Michigan a year ago in that semifinal game?

Or is it totally different? Oh, man, I, I don't think I'll know until after the game's over. But I will say, I mean, having all your having all the eyes on you in that national championship game, I feel like it would settle a little bit more nerves, you know, going into this game, you know, because I feel like I've been there before. And that game went as worse as you possibly could think. So, you know, hopefully we don't, you know, do anything worse than that, which I don't think will happen. It'll be a good game.

So yeah. Well, I love offensive lineman. I played a little bit in high school, but I wasn't good enough to do anything more than that. So I always have a soft spot.

What'd you play? I come with center, please. That's offensive here. And I was, I was a left tackle, you know, in my JV nine, I won the Comac high school offensive lineman of the year. Come on, love that.

Hey, let me know, man. Let's go. Yeah. No, you know, Matt rule wanted me to walk on the temple football team, but I was too busy being a part of a fraternity drinking and having fun and just announcing the football games. But what I was going to say with the offensive line for you, you know how it is.

No one really gives you credit. They only talk about you when you have a penalty or Matthew Stafford gets hit. What do you want people to know about you individually and the type of player that you are for the Rams?

Oh man. I, my mindset going into this year was that I didn't want to, I, and you can probably find this up in an interview, but I did not want to be a rookie. Like that's the last thing that I didn't want to make a rookie mistake. I didn't want to look at a rookie. I didn't want to look like a rookie.

I didn't want to be scouted as, as a rookie, like, Hey, we got to attack this guy. And I just want people, you know, when I'm playing to see that, you know, this guy looks like he's been playing for years in the NFL. So last thing I'll ask you just wondering because right, a lot of people grow up, they say they want to be a professional athlete. When did you realize that you had something from a talent wise that was a little extra special where this is not only a dream, but it could be a reality for you. Man, it was a while. I mean, I didn't even, I couldn't have not even thought like when I was the kid football was just something I did.

And I feel like that changed as soon as I got my first offer, which I remember getting it. And I was like, what the, but UNT had offered me and I was like, wow, like, I guess I really am good. But one thing that definitely got me to that place was that I was just doing what I could and doing what I like.

What's how can I say? I was trying to maximize, you know, my time in high school. I was maximizing my time at practice. I was maximizing my time in the weight room and I feel like all of that, you know, unfolded into that, that first offer. So, and I could possibly say the same thing about the NFL, man, in college, you know, I was just, I had my head down and I kept working. I didn't really worry about being in the NFL and, you know, my last two seasons, you know, that's when I really started getting looked at. And that was a really encouraging feeling.

And I was like, Hey, maybe I can do this for a living. And here we are. Absolutely love that answer. Well, Hey, continue to success. Good luck and enjoy this upcoming weekend. And we appreciate you joining us for a few minutes. Appreciate you, man. Thank you so much. We'll see y'all.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-09 18:30:38 / 2024-01-09 18:39:08 / 9

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