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Five Takeaways: Rams vs. Chargers

Check out photos from the Rams' preseason game against the Chargers.

The Rams had a rocky start to Saturday's matchup with the Chargers, with the offensive starters never quite finding a rhythm. While the club mounted a comeback in the second half, Rams dropped the contest 21-19. But with all preseason games, the final score never quite tells the whole story. With that in mind, here are five takeaways from this week's penultimate exhibition game.

1) Only two defensive starters

The Rams started the game with only two of their 11 regular defensive starters on the field in cornerback Trumaine Johnson and safety Lamarcus Joyner. Healthy players such as linebacker Alec Ogletree, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, and outside linebacker Connor Barwin did not dress fort the game. Head coach Sean McVay had said there was a chance outside linebacker Robert Quinn could play, but he also did not dress.

Cornerback Kayvon Webster and safety Maurice Alexander were not announced as players who wouldn't suit up, but they, too, did not play.

In all, the Rams announced 10 players who would not dress, including running back Todd Gurley.

But with so many starters on the bench, the home team had a tough time slowing down the visitors early. Quarterback Philip Rivers capped the Chargers' opening drive with a 45-yard touchdown pass to speedy wide receiver Travis Benjamin.

2) Offensive giveaways lead to Chargers points

Playing without Gurley, the offense started its first drive well, but a key turnover got the Chargers back on the board.

Quarterback Jared Goff connected with wideout Robert Woods on the left side for a 16-yard gain. And then the second-year QB evades a few defenders in the pocket to find running back Malcolm Brown in the flat. The running back took the pass down the right sideline for a 22-yard gain.

But that was about it for solid Rams plays. After defensive pass interference put the Rams in the red zone, Joey Bosa came in for a strip-sack that Melvin Ingram recovered and returns 76 yards for a touchdown.

Then on the Rams' next drive, Goff threw an interception on a deep pass on the left side. Wide receivers Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins were both in the area, but cornerback Jason Verrett pulled the ball in for the interception.

Goff ended the night 5-of-8 passing for 56 yards. Mannion came on in relief midway through the second quarter, with Goff playing just three possessions.

3) Reynolds making his mark

Rookie wide receiver Josh Reynolds caught the game-winning touchdown last week in Oakland, and continued to perform well against the Chargers.

In the third quarter, Reynolds caught a pass over the middle from Mansion and was hit hard immediately as a defenseless receiver. The penalty was egregious enough for four flags to fly from the officials, but the wideout nevertheless held on for a first down.

Just a couple plays later, Reynolds beat his defender downfield one-on-one and Mannion laid a pass right into his arms for a 38-yard touchdown.

Reynolds caught another pass over the middle late in the third quarter for a 17-yard gain, giving him three receptions for 71 yards in the period.

4) Hatfield gets a pick

Undrafted rookie cornerback Dominique Hatfield made a case to make the initial 53-man roster with a nice interception midway through the second quarter.

On 3rd-and-2 from the Rams' 49-yard line, Chargers reserve quarterback Cardale Jones fired a shot pass to Benjamin on the right. Hatfield was there to contest the catch, and ripped the ball from Benjamin's arms for the takeaway.

The Rams would get points off the takeaway with a 21-yard field goal by kicker Greg Zuerleien.

5) Zuerlein gets it done

Speaking of Zuerlein, the Rams' kicker was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals in the first half. His first came from 42 yards, and his second from 21. But the kicker also ended the first half with an impressive 57-yard field goal.

Zuerlein has been consistent throughout the preseason, making all eight kicks attempted in the first three games.

Travis Coons also made a 53-yard field goal in the second half, which cut the Chargers' lead to 21-19.

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