Los Angeles Rams: 5 Players Who Need to Play Well Against the Raiders

by Jake Ellenbogen
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The Los Angeles Rams kick off preseason contest number two this weekend as they take on the Las Vegas Raiders. We watched in awe as players like Justin Lawler stood out and made a serious impact. However, the flip side of that was the fact some players that needed to stand out did not or even worse, looked like liabilities. Here are five players that made the first wave of cuts but desperately need to play well against Las Vegas to continue on the path to making the 53-man roster.

1. TE Brycen Hopkins

I’ve been a big believer in Hopkins and when you go back and watch his tape at Purdue it’s not hard to see why. However, while Hopkins did make the 53-man roster last year, the Los Angeles Rams have since brought back veteran UDFA tight end Johnny Mundt and drafted Jacob Harris. To make matters even worse for Hopkins, the Rams have received some good contributions in camp out of UDFA Kendall Blanton. Hopkins as crazy as it sounds could be in big trouble as we discussed on the most recent Downtown Rams podcast episode.

The good news with Hopkins is that he did log 33 snaps last week in his first ever preseason game. The bad news is that he didn’t do much of anything on the stat sheet coming away with just one catch on two targets that went for only three yards. The hope is that this Saturday, Hopkins is able to showcase exactly why he was drafted by the Rams in 2020 and it’s imperative he does just that.

2. G Bobby Evans

Evans started off mini-camp as the projected starting right guard but things have taken a turn for the worse in terms of Evans’ stock. Evans found himself playing in a preseason game in which the majority of the backups for the Los Angeles Rams were held out of. That’s not the best sign for Evans and the worst of all is that he really didn’t play all that well. Evans was going up against lesser competition than he last faced while playing in the postseason against the Packers (and also not playing all that well) but this time around he was getting outplayed by second and third-string players.

Maybe it’s not being talked about enough but it’s time to worry about Evans’ long-term future with the Rams. By all accounts Tremayne Anchrum seems to have more confidence in the coaching staff than Evans does. The former third-round pick out of Oklahoma has to play better moving forward or the Rams could just mess around and fall in love with a different player. . .if they haven’t already.

3. WR JJ Koski

The Los Angeles Rams undrafted wide receiver from Cal Poly has put out some good tape recently. His ability to block first and foremost is the most important as we know Sean McVay won’t play a wideout that cannot block downfield. While Koski has spent some time in the Rams building including his practice squad stint and his future’s deal, he’s progressed. The problem for Koski is that Trishton Jackson is just doing more and so Koski could find himself on the outside looking in.

Koski was given some sort of a breather in a sense with the unfortunate injury to rookie seventh-round wideout Ben Skowronek. Now, it’s going to be up to him to battle Jackson for potentially the sixth and final spot on the roster. The problem with Koski is the lack of return ability but he’s a solid special teamer in general and can make plays on offense. After playing 86 percent of offensive snaps, I feel good saying he has more of a shot to make the roster than many think. He needs to have a good game this Saturday though to keep those dreams alive otherwise he could find himself with the practice squad again or reuniting with Shane Waldron in Seattle.

4. LB/S Jake Gervase

This is one of my guys here and I’ve been pounding the table for Gervase to get a shot since his intriguing move over to linebacker. The Los Angeles Rams just cut one of the players in the running against him at linebacker Derrick Moncrief and now it’s between Gervase and likely Christian Rozeboom for a final spot (if it’s there) or practice squad priority. Gervase made some plays in his first start last week but this week with no Moncrief and likely the whole linebacker room (aside from Ernest Jones) sitting again Gervase will need to make a big-time statement.

Gervase has the positional versatility to play linebacker and safety, he has special teams ability and has played in actual NFL regular season games (suited up most notably against the Jets last season) this is now or never for the brand new converted linebacker undrafted out of Iowa. The athletic profile is not comparable he is the most athletic per Relative Athletic Score at the position in the league. It’s time for him to show he’s more than just testing numbers this Saturday.

5. S Troy Warner

The brother of Fred Warner (aka the best linebacker in football) played 36 percent of snaps last week for the Los Angeles Rams. I saw some things I liked in this game and a few that set him apart from fellow UDFA Paris Ford but he’s going to have to make more of an impact this weekend especially after J.R. Reed and JuJu Hughes had impressive showings that could make their path to the 53-man roster more of a possibility than before.

Warner has ball skills that are evident on film and has had a solid camp to this point but last week he showed some serious pop behind his pads and the ability to come down, get comfortable and make a big-time hit on the ball-carrier. If Warner wants to make this team it’s not going to be at all easy but he will need to show out this weekend and take advantage of his opportunity. Regardless, he’s playing to stay in the building whether it’s on the practice squad or not.

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