INGLEWOOD, Calif. – While the Rams fell to the Chargers 13-6 on Saturday at SoFi Stadium, the contest still featured plenty of bright spots, including rookie linebacker Ernest Jones, the speed at punt returner, tight end Jacob Harris and more.
Here are five takeaways from the contest:
1) Linebacker Ernest Jones gets a big opportunity
Starting alongside Jake Gervase at inside linebacker, Jones wore the green dot for the Rams defense – meaning, he was their on-field defensive signal-caller – against the Chargers.
It's a responsibility that naturally carries a lot of weight, but it also says a lot about how much the Rams trust Jones.
2) Explosive speed at punt returner
Rams special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said in February that "we've got to get a guy that can ring the bell and drop the ball over the goal line."
While none of the Rams' punt returners brought one back for a touchdown, they did display speed that would fit the above criteria.
Rookie wide receiver Tutu Atwell had a 20-yard punt return that, while negated by a holding penalty, still displayed the speed that was behind a reported 4.32-second 40-yard dash recorded at his pro day.
Similarly, running back Raymond Calais displayed the same speed and explosiveness that Rams general manager Les Snead called a "superpower" last September that made him an appealing addition to their roster with a 46-yard return that set the Rams up near midfield, and eventually, their first points of the game.
3) Justin Lawler shines at EDGE
In his first live game action since 2018 because of preseason injuries each of the previous two years, Lawler quickly made an impact. He was disruptive on the opening drive, pressuring Chargers quarterback Chase Daniels on 2nd and goal from the 2 to help the Rams defense hold them to three points.
On the Rams' second defensive series, he again pressured Daniels, then tackled Chargers running back Joshua Kelley for a three-yard loss on 3rd and 13, forcing the Chargers to punt from deep in their own territory.
Overall, Lawler finished with five total tackles (one for loss) and two QB hits.
4) Quarterback Bryce Perkins shines
Perkins was excited about the chance to showcase his arm and his legs, and he didn't disappoint Saturday night.
Helped by Calais' aforementioned punt return, he led the Rams on their first scoring drive, finding wide receiver Trishton Jackson for a four-yard touchdown pass.
In the fourth quarter, he used a stiff-arm to ward off one defender, then leapt over another with a hurdle to get a third-down conversion.
He completed 7 of 10 pass attempts for 42 yards in addition to that passing score, also rushing four times for 23 yards.
5) Tight end Jacob Harris translates training camp and OTAs to live game setting
As mentioned in Friday's Five Players to Watch piece, Harris was a standout during organized team activities, but Rams head coach Sean McVay also emphasized the importance of that showing up when the pads came on.
Well, against the Chargers on Saturday, Harris logged a team-high four catches for 43 yards, including a 13-yard grab where he spun out of a tackle to get the first down. He also showed good ball tracking on a deep pass from Hodges in the third quarter that, had he not caught it out of bounds, would've been a touchdown.