The Los Angeles Rams fell to the Los Angeles Chargers, 13-6 on Saturday evening at SoFi stadium. It was the first time this offseason that we’ve been able to see the players in a live game setting. It was also the first preseason game played in SoFi.
We’ll learn a lot about the Rams over the next three weeks before they play the Chicago Bears. Here are five players who stood out against the Chargers.
EDGE Justin Lawler
Lawler was all over the field on Saturday night. A lot of what Lawler did didn’t show up on the stat sheet. He had five tackles and two quarterback hits. However, Lawler was extremely disruptive. With his performance on Saturday, he has likely locked up a roster spot. That will make things very complicated for the Rams when it comes to other places on the roster.
Justin Lawler’s story is really special. The Rams drafted him in the seventh round in 2018 and got minimal playing time as a rookie. The next two years, Lawler spent injured and on the injured reserve list. A lot of fans counted him out heading into 2021. As it stands, he has other plans.
Lawler may not start for the Rams, but he could be a valuable depth piece that the Rams can rotate in behind Leonard Floyd.
P Corey Bojorquez
It’s the preseason, and it’s punters, but Corey Bojorquez was the more impressive punter for the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night. This isn’t just a camp leg. He led the NFL in average punt yards last season at 50.8 yards. His net average of 44 yards was also five yards more than Johnny Hekker.
Hekker wasn’t bad last season, but it’s worth mentioning that he is the highest paid punter by a wide margin. Hekker is set to count for $4.9M against the cap this season. The next closest is Riley Dickson of the New York Giants at $3.2M. The Rams can save $2.6M by cutting Hekker and get him off the books next year and the year after when his cap number is $4.7M.
Bojorquez had two punts on Saturday. One he pinned inside the 20 and the other was a 52 yard bomb. Johnny Hekker will always be a fan favorite. However, with a new special teams coach, Bojorquez isn’t just a camp leg.
TE Jacob Harris
Jacob Harris led all receivers in the game with four receptions for 43 yards. He was also targeted a game-high seven times. The Los Angeles Rams targeted Harris early and often.
It’s clear that the Rams have a plan for Jacob Harris. However, it remains unclear just what his role will be once the regular season begins. Tyler Higbee didn’t dress and neither did Johnny Mundt. Harris is likely still behind both of those players, but could become someone that the Rams use situationally.
Harris had one miscue when he put the ball on the ground with a fumble. The Rams were able to recover, but it could have ended the touchdown drive before it started.
Harris had a couple of third down conversions against the Chargers and Hodges just missed him in the end zone down the sideline. The Rams also targeted him on a fade in the end zone. The ceiling for Harris is sky high. He could be everything that the Rams wanted Gerald Everett to be and more.
LB Ernest Jones
It’s clear how much the Los Angeles Rams trust Ernest Jones. With no Jordan Fuller and none of the starting four linebackers dressed, it was Jones who was given the green dot on defense. Jones was responsible for calling the defense and getting everyone lined up.
That's what the Rams meant when they were scouting Ernest Jones when they talked about how he can negotiate traffic and get into position against the pass.
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 15, 2021
Jones had just three tackles, but he was always near the play and was all over the field. He was impressive in coverage and the Rams used him as a pass rusher as well. If the Rams needed Jones to start on day one, he definitely could. It would not be surprising to see that be the case midseason.
S JuJu Hughes
JuJu Hughes was around the ball a lot on Saturday. He tied for the team lead in tackles with seven and might have helped himself in a deep safety position group. Nick Scott is injured and could miss the beginning of the season. That opens things up for someone like Hughes initially.
Hughes played well and will be someone that fans and coaches keep an eye on throughout the next two preseason games.