It’s the Los Angeles Rams vs. Oakland Raiders to open the 2019 preseason tonight against the Oakland Raiders. Here’s what to look forward to tonight.
Blake Bortles makes his Rams debut
Jared Goff will not play against the Raiders, as the Rams follow suit with the majority of the league in sitting their starting quarterback to open the preseason. That means former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles gets the start to begin his run with the Rams. This will be Bortles’ first and likely only season with the Rams, as he looks to build himself back up to perhaps compete for a starting role in 2020. But he landed in a very fortunate situation for 2019, sitting behind Goff and learning from head coach Sean McVay.
Bortles will effectively lead the Rams’ second-stringers tonight, as just about every likely starter will almost assuredly sit out tonight. So while a lot of the young players will get the spotlight, it’s Bortles who may have the brightest.
Taylor Rapp finally sees game action
The Rams’ second-round pick has been opening eyes during camp, continuing his momentum from a strong college career at Washington. Rapp is fighting to carve out an early role on defense with Eric Weddle and John Johnson entrenched in the defensive backfield. It will be fascinating to see if we can find some early clues on how defensive coordinator Wade Phillips plans to use the rookie and his versatility. Could Rapp begin as an early, and better, version of Deone Bucannon as a hybrid-type player? Perhaps tonight will answer some questions.
Who steps up in the offensive line battle?
The Rams’ offensive line isn’t as settled as it has been in past years, which led to them selecting two such players in April’s draft. And those two players are certainly going to have a watchful eye on them. We’re talking about Bobby Evans, the third-round pick out of Oklahoma, and David Edwards, taken in the fifth round from Wisconsin. Where will they line up tonight? Will they get reps inside to compete for spots there as rookies, with Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein entrenched on the bookends? How about Jamil Demby, who returns after spending the end of 2018 on the team during the Super Bowl run after being on the Detriot Lions’ practice squad and active roster after being selected by the Rams in the 2018 draft?
Of course, all these players are looking up right now at Joe Noteboom and Austin Blythe at the guard positions. Demby was listed as Noteboom’s direct backup at left guard on the first depth chart, while Edwards and Evans are currently backing up Whitworth and Havenstein, respectively.