OAKLAND — Opening the preseason on the road, the Rams fell to the Raiders 14-3 on Saturday evening. But with almost no starters even dressed for the game, the final score isn’t the most important thing. With that in mind, here are five instant takeaways from the exhibition matchup in Oakland.
1) TAKEAWAYS CREATED
The Rams always put an emphasis on creating defensive takeaways, and the club was able to do just that twice during the first half on Saturday evening.
First, cornerback Kevin Peterson picked off a pass from Raiders reserve signal-caller Mike Glennon early on in the second quarter. Peterson stepped in front of an intermediate pass over the middle to make the interception. The last time Peterson played in a regular-season game, he intercepted 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo twice. After tearing his ACL in last year’s preseason opener, Peterson appears to be picking up where he left off in 2017.
Safety Steven Parker also got involved in the pick party, intercepting a Glennon pass in the red zone to keep the Raiders off the board. Parker spent all of last season on the Rams’ practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma.
2) BORTLES’ DEBUT
Quarterback Blake Bortles looked fine in his first appearance as the Rams’ quarterback. Appearing in two series, Bortles completed three passes for 50 yards and each completion went to a wide receiver.
Wide receiver Mike Thomas caught the first for a 12-yard gain on 3rd-and-8. Then on Los Angeles’ next drive, Bortles completed a pair of passes to KhaDarel Hodge for 23 and 15 yards, respectively.
Brandon Allen came in to replace Bortles as the Rams’ signal-caller on the following drive and played throughout the rest of the game.
3) RAPP MAKES AN IMPACT
Rookie safety Taylor Rapp also made his Rams debut on Saturday, and was all over the field for the defense. The safety displayed one of his key characteristics in versatility, lining up all over in coordinator Wade Phillips’ defense. Rapp’s most notable play came late in the first quarter, when he batted down an intermediate pass to Raiders rookie wide receiver Hunter Renfrow in the middle of the field. With Rapp and safety Marqui Christian, the Rams appear to have solid depth and flexibility at the position.
4) CARRAWAY SACK
Outside linebacker Josh Carraway has flashed throughout training camp, and he put it together on the field by getting Los Angeles’ first sack of the preseason early on in the fourth quarter.
Carraway was close to getting Glennon on the ground earlier in the game, but got to Nathan Peterman on 3rd-and-5 at the Oakland 48 for a six-yard loss.
The OLB has bounced around a bit to start out his career. Carraway was a Titans seventh-round pick in 2017, and stuck with the club through their roster cuts at the start of the 2018 regular season. He then signed with Washington’s practice squad in late November before L.A. brought him on in early May for the offseason program.
Carraway has a significant hill to climb to make the Rams’ initial 53-man roster, but getting a sack in a preseason game can’t hurt.
5) TOO MANY PROCEDURAL PENALTIES
Over the last couple years under head coach Sean McVay, the Rams have been solid at avoiding pre-snap penalties. But Los Angeles was flagged for an illegal formation on the opening kickoff return, and in the second quarter L.A. got hit with a yellow hankie for an illegal formation on a kickoff.
In all, the Rams had four illegal formation penalties in the first half between offense and special teams.
Again, that’s uncharacteristic of the team as a whole under McVay, so it’s fair to expect that will change in the coming weeks — especially when the regular season starts in September. But for now, it’s likely something the Rams will work on.