THOUSAND OAKS Josh Sweat Color Rush Jersey , Calif. (AP) Aaron Donald makes a joke during a break in practice, and Ndamukong Suh chuckles. Pretty soon, the entire Los Angeles Rams defensive line is cracking up.

This new defense is no laughing matter, though. Six months after the Rams assembled a remarkable collection of veteran talent, its finally all out on the practice field together.

Michael Brockers, the other defensive lineman in the Rams fearsome threesome up front, thinks the rest of the NFL should be wary.

Just backing out of the huddle and looking at all the talent we have is kind of surreal, Brockers said. I look back and Im like, Bro, we can be so crazy on this field. But its on paper first, so we have to go out there and prove why were so talented, why were so great.

Donald, Suh and Brockers have been together in practice for the first time over the past week while the Rams prepare for their opener in Oakland on Monday night. Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are eager to get on the field after barely playing in the preseason to see if this defense can live up to its enormous potential.

The bulk of the defensive starters only got seven snaps together in the preseason. Thats still more than the offense, which didnt play at all, and defensive coordinator Phillips doesnt sound overly concerned.

I think theyre going to be really good, Phillips said. But its (about) meshing together and playing the right way. I have a lot of confidence in them. We have a group that really likes football. Some teams or players Ive been with, they played because they were good at it or whatever. But this group, they like football. They like playing football, and some of them even like practicing, which is a little different.

Donald is the biggest key to the Rams aspirations, and the NFLs defensive player of the year is going full-speed in practice after being away from the team for several months in a contract holdout. He wont have any limit on his snaps in Oakland, coach Sean McVay confirmed Friday.

Weve been missing that little puzzle piece, the final piece, so its been awesome, Brockers said. Hes been making some great jokes, and were just happy to have him back. A.D. is a pro. Hes been studying the playbook. Hes been watching film. Literally, we plugged him in, and he knew everything hes supposed to do. We havent had to slow down at all. We honestly picked up the tempo.

Donald missed the Rams 2017 season opener after ending his holdout one day earlier. This year, he signed his new contract last Friday and reported to the Rams in time to get ample work before the games begin.

You kind of know what to expect, Donald said of his second straight late arrival. But youve got the opportunity to come back and basically get six practices under my belt before the first game Mike Adams Jersey , so I think thats going to be a big help for me, as far as getting adjusted out there.

Donalds partnership with Suh has been hotly anticipated ever since the Rams outmaneuvered several suitors last March to sign Suh to a one-year deal.

He makes my job easier, you know? Donald said. When youve got guys out there like him and Brock next to you, you know the other guy is going to make plays, just like you make plays. Youre just a little bit more comfortable.

Any talk about the potential success of this defense comes with a giant caveat in the middle.

While the defensive line and secondary are jam-packed with proven NFL talent, the Rams linebackers are mostly unproven at an elite level. Whats more, veteran inside linebacker Mark Barron seems increasingly unlikely to begin the season healthy after missing the first two days of practice this week with a flare-up of an Achilles tendon injury that has dogged him for months.

Untested Cory Littleton is taking over for traded middle linebacker Alec Ogletree, the Rams leading tackler in four of the past five seasons. Samson Ebukam and Matt Longacre also are penciled into starting spots, and even defensive lineman Dominique Easley has taken practice reps as a pass-rushing outside linebacker.

If Barron cant play against the Raiders, Los Angeles is likely to put Ramik Wilson into the starting lineup for his Rams debut after three seasons in Kansas City.

Hes a smart player, said Phillips, who played Wilson more extensively in the preseason than other probable regular-season contributors. Hes started before in the league, and hes played well when hes been in there. He knows what to do.

Sam Darnold spent a few minutes chatting with Joe Namath and only wished he had more time.

At this rate, though, the youngster will have plenty more opportunities down the line.

Darnold led the Jets on two touchdown drives, moving closer to securing the starting quarterback job in a 22-16 loss to the New York Giants on Friday night.

That came after Darnold and the Jets' other quarterbacks met briefly on the field with the man who has led the team to its only Super Bowl win 鈥?50 seasons ago.

"It was cool to meet 'Broadway Joe,'" a smiling Darnold said. "And to know the history that he has with this franchise, it was awesome to get to meet him."

Jets fans are hoping Darnold might be able to someday have the same impact.

Small steps first, of course. The No. 3 overall draft pick made his second consecutive start, finishing 8 of 16 for 86 yards 鈥?including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Terrelle Pryor.

Darnold is competing with Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown for the Jets' starting job, but the rookie is being given every chance to be under center when New York opens the regular season at Detroit on Sept. 10.

"So far, I think I've been really consistent," Darnold said. "At the same time, obviously there's little things I can always get better at."

Bridgewater came in on the Jets' second offensive possession of the second half, while McCown never played. Bridgewater was 11 of 15 for 104 yards.

Darnold got off to a solid start, leading an 11-play, 75-yard drive on the Jets' opening series that was capped by Bilal Powell's 10-yard touchdown run.

Darnold converted two third-and-long plays during the possession, first with a 13-yard completion to Neal Sterling. On third-and-13 from the Giants 35, Darnold showed off his scrambling ability by scooting to his left and zipping upfield for 14 yards.

"It's kind of what I've done my whole life, just play football Cam Newton Jersey ," Darnold said. "When something's not there and I see a lane, take it. But also continue to secure the ball and not turn the ball over. And, if I can do those things and just continue to play football at the same time, I think I'll be all right."

After Darnold's 11-yard completion to Robby Anderson, Powell ran untouched into the end zone to give the Jets (1-2) an early 7-0 lead.

"Any time you go down the field on your first drive and score a touchdown against a good defense, that's a good thing," coach Todd Bowles said. "For the most part, he did his job."

Darnold's second series went nowhere, hurt in large part by a false start penalty on tight end Eric Tomlinson.

Hunter Sharp took Lachlan Edwards' punt from 55 yards out and zig-zagged a bit on his way to the end zone to tie it at 7 with 3:52 left in the opening quarter.

"The punt return was just the spark we needed," Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. "It was a terrific run, well blocked."

JUST FOR KICKS

Aldrick Rosas kicked field goals of 48, 40, 27 and 21 yards to give the Giants a 19-13 lead into halftime.

The third field goal came after Trenton Cannon fumbled a kickoff when he was hit by Ray-Ray Armstrong, and Jerell Adams recovered for the Giants (2-1).

STARTERS

The Giants' starters played just the first two quarters, with Eli Manning going 17 of 23 for 188 yards in what was likely his final tuneup before the regular season. Sterling Shepard had seven catches for 78 yards.

"I thought we did a couple of good things," Manning said. "Obviously, we'd like to score more when we get into the red zone down there. I thought there were a lot of good things and we moved the ball pretty well."

The backups opened the second half to face the Jets, who left their starters on both sides of the ball in for much of the third quarter.

BIG SWING

Manning connected with Cody Latimer on a 54-yard pass on first down late in the first quarter to put the Giants at the Jets 6.

Jonathan Stewart took the handoff on the next play and was met by Avery Williamson, who ripped the ball out of the running back's hands. Leonard Williams scooped up the fumble and returned it 39 yards to the Giants 47.

Four plays later, Darnold completed a 16-yard pass to Quincy Enunwa on third-and-6 from the 28. Darnold then found Pryor to give the Jets the lead 56 seconds into the second quarter.

Taylor Bertolet made the extra point, but it was negated by Jonotthan Harrison's false start 鈥?and Bertolet missed the re-kick.

SITTING OUT

Giants running back Saquon Barkley, taken a spot ahead of Darnold, returned to practice this week on a limited basis for the first time since suffering a mild hamstring strain nine days earlier but sat out.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was a full participant in practice, but also didn't play as he continues to work his way back after breaking his ankle last October.

ANTHEM

There were no displays of protest by either the Jets or Giants, with both teams standing on the sideline for the anthem.

SLOPPY

The Jets were called for 13 penalties, costing them 108 yards. The Giants were called for six for 50.

"It felt like more than that," Bowles said. "We can't have that going into opening day."

INJURIES

Giants: Starting TE Evan Engram left with 5:21 left in the second quarter with a concussion. He was sandwiched by Williamson and Darron Lee after catching a 6-yard pass at the Jets 24. The ball came loose at the end of the play and was ruled a fumble, but the call was overturned after a video review. ... Backup TE Rhett Ellison left in the second quarter with an eye injury.

Jets: CB Rashard Robinson left early in the fourth quarter with a hip injury. ... WR Jermaine Kearse was held out with a sore abdomen.

UP NEXT

Giants: home vs. New England next Thursday night.

Jets: at Philadelphia next Thursday night.