The Los Angeles Rams open up the preseason against the Dallas Cowboys tonight, here is what you should be watching.
1. The best D-line vs best O-line in football
Yes, the Rams have the best defensive line in football and that’s not news to us, neither is the fact the offensive line for the Cowboys is the best in all of football. We won’t get to watch a fourth quarter battle in the trenches like we would in the regular season. However keep an eye on these two at least in the first quarter it will be interesting to see who prevails.
I don’t know if Aaron Donald will suit up tonight because quite honestly he doesn’t need to but, we will see…
2. Goff! Goff! Goff!
By now Jared Goff is a household name as he was the no. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. He is in a quarterback competition with veteran quarterback and last season ending starter Case Keenum. Goff isn’t starting for the first time in his life but that’s probably best. He will take over after Keenum gets his 15 reps and then expect Goff to play through the third quarter in his debut.
3. Between LaMarcus Joyner and Maurice Alexander, it’s their job to lose
Both promising draft picks from the 2014 NFL draft — LaMarcus Joyner and Maurice Alexander will get the starts tonight at cornerback and free safety respectively. What does that mean? It is their jobs to lose, I fully expect Joyner and Alexander to remain the starters at the start of regular season but tonight and the rest of preseason could change that if they don’t play up to the level the coaches want them to.
For Joyner he has to fight off newly acquired free agent Coty Sensabaugh and former 2014 rookie standout E.J. Gaines. Others that aren’t currently listed as in the mix but could sneak in there are undrafted free agents Marcus Roberson and Mike Jordan. As far as Alexander goes he has Cody Davis the special teams ace to fight off as well as former Ohio State Buckeye Christian Bryant. Some guys to watch out for tonight that could pose a threat, UDFAs Brian Randolph and Jabriel Washington.
4. Special teams aces vs Rookies with more upside
During the preseason and training camp period there will always be cuts that sting a team and their fans. This season we are looking at a few special teams guys that have been great at what they do. However could be in trouble especially if a rookie with greater upside can be as effective on special teams. Those guys include but are not limited to RB Chase Reynolds, WR Bradley Marquez, TE Cory Harkey, LB Bryce Hager, S Christian Bryant and S Cody Davis.
The rookies like Aaron Green at running back could pose a threat for a guy like Reynolds who is a fan favorite come camp time and has seemingly beeen a roster mainstay. Another guy like Harkey that fans and teammates alike love could posibly get the axe in favor of a younger guy like Benson Browne or even newcomer Jake Stoneburner. Hager is in a really tough spot since he was outplayed a bit by UDFA Cameron Lynch on special teams and shows less versatility than Lynch as a linebacker. He could be battle tested against newly drafted sixth-round pick Josh Forrest.
This is definitely a storyline to monitor.
5. Will Tyler Higbee and young WRs impressive camps carry over to the preseason
What you see with Higbee is a physical specimen that just jumps off the page at 6-foot-6 and 249 pounds he possesses rare skills and athleticism the Rams have really never had in their history. We know Jared Cook possessed the athleticism but the way Higbee catches the ball and the way Cook couldn’t, the two are right off the bat different. Higbee is developing a chemistry with future franchise quarterback Jared Goff and is turning heads at training camp. We finally will be able to see Higbee in action and you could be watching someone special who ends up having a very bright future.
There are four young wide receivers that have been making noise in camp, the former Auburn Tiger Duke Williams, Nelson Spruce from Colorado, 4th-round pick Pharoh Cooper and 6th-round pick Mike Thomas. It will be fun to watch the young guns in action with the young quarterback Jared Goff dishing out the ball. As of now I think three of these receivers make the roster but don’t be surprised if Williams has a special night in the return of L.A. Rams.
6. Kicker battle: “Legatron” Greg Zuerlein vs Taylor Bertolet
Could his be young GZ’s last preseason in horns? Probably not but Taylor Bertolet is definitely the best competition Zuerlein has had. Bertolet is the Texas A&M all-time record holder for PAT’s in a single-season. Zuerlein struggled mightily last year missing a third of his kicks. He has hit 66.7% of FG’s on grass and 86.2% inside domes. That should be worrisome seeing as the Rams will no longer play their home games inside a dome and at the Coliseum it will be all open air.
If I had to predict who wins this battle I would still say Zuerlein but keep an eye on Bertolet not only tonight but the next three games. It would take a debacle of a preseason from Zuerlein to consider starting Bertolet at kicker but that’s not out of the question. Another thing, Bertolet could be our insurance during the season if GZ doesn’t ever bounce back.
Enjoy tonight’s game and tell us what storylines you think are the most pivotal for tonight down below!