Who gave themselves a real shot at making the Los Angeles Rams’ roster in preseason week one?
With the first week of Los Angeles Rams football now in the books, we are here today to see who outperformed and who underperformed. Players who are on the edge of the roster bubble are playing their hearts out in preseason while starters sit. Stars watch as their less-famous counterparts go at it on the NFL-grass week-to-week for a month. Who has a shot at the 5-man roster? Who will be the surprise cut? The stock up, stock down pieces will give you an idea of who your Rams will be made of come September.
After the Raiders game, a few names stuck out of the screen to me: Blake Bortles, Taylor Rapp, and Khadarel Hodge. These players had a positive impact and gave themselves a shot at a more major role come the rest of the preseason and regular season.
Quarterback Blake Bortles
Bortles was better than Sean Mannion. Is that hard? No. Is it still a positive? Hell yes. Bortles could have been better, his passes were errant and he was flustered a bit in the pocket. But he was an improvement. He hit on a couple of passes for over ten yards to wide receiver Khadarel Hodge early in the game, and he hit Michael Thomas with a couple as well. Bortles only got around twelve minutes of action before third-string-candidate Brandon Allen came in to play. All-in-all, Bortles was a little off-target as expected, but he was an overall improvement at his position in his first outing as a Ram.
Wide Receiver Khadarel Hodge
With a couple of catches from Allen and Bortles, Hodge had a good game overall. Hodge’s hands were the best on the Rams’ side, and his RAC ability flashed on the field in Oakland. Along with Michael Thomas, Hodge is one of two receivers with real-game experience, and it mattered here. Hodge has a legitimate chance of being the Los Angeles Rams’ fifth wide receiver behind Josh Reynolds, and a strong show of his hands did him wonders versus the Raiders.
Cornerback Kevin Peterson
Interception of Glennon in the first half of the game was a bit of a surprise for Kevin Peterson, who was good in coverage compared to his peers in the secondary. Peterson is in a spot where he has to perform. On the roster bubble, Peterson made plays today to put his name out there as a difference-maker in the secondary. A couple of tackles here, an interception there, and the veteran in the preseason is giving himself a real opportunity for playing time in the regular season.
Safety Taylor Rapp
I tweeted before the game that I couldn’t wait to see Taylor Rapp ball out. I wasn’t disappointed. Rapp flashed some tackling and coverage skills in the limited snaps that he played. His play in this game showed he deserves a role. Playing alongside second and third stringers, Rapp was fast and he was precise. That’s why the Rams took his snaps away early into the game. I’d expect Rapp to play a similar amount of time throughout the preseason and keep flashing why the Rams have given him some space to roam in the secondary. Ball out Rapp, ball out.
Rams Backup Receiving Core
The backup receivers didn’t play well, especially to start. Jojo Natson, Austin Proehl, Alex Bachman, and tight end Johnny Mundt all had dropped passes and didn’t create space for Blake Bortles and Brandon Allen. These three are aiming just to get limited snaps behind the pro-bowl cast that’s ahead of them. Altogether, these three and the rest of the Rams receiving core were unimpressive (aside from Hodge) and the highlight of the day from this group was a couple drops early in the game. Look for these three guys to keep getting big minutes early, as the Rams try to find that sixth receiver and kick-returner role filled before their game versus the Panthers in September.
Rams Special Teams Unit
Penalties on penalties on penalties. The Los Angeles Rams’ special teams unit was loving them some on Saturday night. This first preseason game is no finished product, and the special teams unit was an example of that. Coach John Fassel will hone these guys in, but holding calls, illegal formations, and other penalties have to be a point of focus moving forward for this team. Johnny Hekker, Jake McQuaide, and Greg Zuerlein were all as we expected, but It is the guys sprinting fifty yards down the field that made the mistakes versus the Raiders, and it should be cleaned up by September.
Offensive Tackle David Edwards
Rookie David Edwards had some lowlights in his first game as an NFL offensive linemen. An obvious holding call and some missed blocks make Edwards stand out to me. Now, Edwards was playing alongside other young, inexperienced offensive linemen such as Jamil Demby, and Jeremiah Kolone, but I expected more. Maybe this is an effect of Sean McVay blessing me with the beauty of an offensive line the Rams have. I’m looking for Edwards to shine throughout the rest of the preseason and forward. The offensive line had an alright game overall, but I’m nicking Edwards on his first game as a Ram.
After every game, we will be getting you these stock up, stock down pieces to chew on. These aren’t meant to be deep analysis, rather they are more of a gut reaction to a game we just witnessed. Players like David Edwards, Jojo Natson, and Austin Proehl could all have great games for the rest of the preseason. For now, their stock is down. For next week, we look toward the game against the Dallas Cowboys on the seventeenth. Who will raise their stock next time the Rams step onto the field? You will have to tune in to see.
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