1. Big play consistency from rookies
The big play potential from the rookie class showed up against the Broncos on Saturday. LB
On the undrafted rookie front, LB Ray Ray Armstrong also got into the mix last week when he sacked Denver QB Brock Osweiler for a 10-yard loss, while CB
As the rookies become more knowledgeable in their respective systems, their big play potential should increase. Watch for the younger players to play more comfortably in their assignments and keep their momentum going into the regular season.
2. Offensive line
3. Special teams
After putting two 50-plus yard field goals through the uprights in Cleveland and missing his only attempt against Green Bay, K
The punt team has recovered from a rough start against Cleveland. Last week in Denver, P Johnny Hekker did very well, according to Head Coach Jeff Fisher, and he expects him to take that into the regular season when it counts.
“He was bombing it, and he was putting it right on the boundary,” Coach Fisher said. “That’s been our approach. We have to be able to do that as we get into our division and the league for that matter because of dynamic returners.”
Through the first three weeks of the preseason, Hekker ranks fourth in the NFL averaging 52.4 yards a punt.
Watch for Zuerlein to continue to show off his strength and accuracy, while Hekker looks to consistently execute directional punting and pin opposing returners deep.
4. Continued defensive improvement
The unit has had a gauntlet of a schedule from an emerging, new look Browns offense in Week 1 to the efficiency of QBs Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning over the last two weeks. While Rodgers and Manning ate up yards against a basic preseason defensive scheme, the Rams stopped them when it mattered most: in the red zone. The Rams held the two former Super Bowl MVPs to only one touchdown.
On Thursday, the unit takes on its third Super Bowl MVP, QB Joe Flacco, in as many weeks. Watch for the defense to continue its improvement, and stick to Fisher’s progression into the regular season.
5. Position Battles
The fourth preseason contest will be the final audition for players to climb the depth chart before the regular season, and there are several position groups that have players battling for a chance to get on the field.
- At running back,
- At safety, McDonald has picked up Defensive Coordinator Tim Walton’s system quickly and played well throughout the preseason in the secondary. With S
“I thought they played very well together, from this standpoint: in (QB) Peyton’s (Manning) hurry-up, it was difficult for them to line up one at free (safety) and one at strong (safety),” Fisher said. “So, they lined up left and right and played both positions. They just interchanged and that’s saying a lot for two young safeties right now.”
Though McLeod has seen significant time with the first team in recent weeks, the starting role will remain Stewart’s when he returns to the field.
“Typically, guys don’t lose their jobs because of injury,” Fisher said, “but we’ll just re-evaluate it when ‘Stew’ (Darian Stewart) comes back.”
If Stewart is not able to play against the Ravens on Thursday, McLeod will have another opportunity to show his potential before the coaches re-evaluate the position.
- The battle between QBs
- Similar to the back-up quarterback spot, the starting left guard position has been up for grabs throughout the preseason and will remain that way going into Thursday’s game against Baltimore.
“He’s been moving around, too, which is good,” Fisher said about Williams. “The flexibility at the left guard spot and then a little bit of right tackle here and there for us – It’s been good.
“Shelley’s moving around a little bit and playing left guard, right guard. We’ve got depth there. We’ll have some hard decisions.”
The Rams must condense their roster to 53 players by August 31, meaning that Thursday’s game against the Ravens is the last opportunity for those on the bubble to earn a spot on the team. Players will look to impress coaches at their respective positions and on special teams, which often plays a key role in securing a place in the final 53. The final preseason game will take place on August 29 at the Edward Jones Dome at 7 p.m. CT.