The Rams are set to play their first road game of the 2017 season on Saturday following the team's 13-10 win over the Cowboys in the preseason opener. In Week 2 of the preseason, the Rams will travel to the Oakland Coliseum to face off against the Raiders. Saturday's matchup will mark the first time the two teams have met in the preseason since 2015.
In their win over the Cowboys, the Rams' starting offense played for just two drives, ending in a fumble recovery for a touchdown, scored by wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Quarterback Jared Goff looked relaxed on field for the short span, completing three of four passes for 34 yards, while Sean Mannion went 18 of 25 for 144 yards.
After practice on Wednesday, head coach Sean McVay said the goal for Saturday's game was to play their starters "through the first quarter," easing them into the action over the next two games. The newest Rams' wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who entered training camp just four days ago, will take reps with the first-team against the Raiders.
"Sammy's going to be a guy that is a big part of our plans offensively [and] I think in the last couple days, he's made a seamless transition," McVay said. "We know that we've got to increase the level of urgency to get him where we needs to be by the time the regular season rolls around, [but] I'm looking forward to seeing him compete with these guys against Oakland on Saturday."
For Goff, Saturday will represent his first time playing in the Bay Area since he was in college at the University of California. The quarterback said he was excited to build upon the win in Week 1 and create a "rhythm" heading into the second.
"That's what I look forward to doing," he said, "is just getting out there and stringing a few completions together, moving the ball and hopefully getting us in the end zone a couple of times."
But that won't be easy. In the Raiders, the Rams' offense will face a top-tier defense led by the pass-rushing duo of Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. The pair combined for 18 of the Raiders 25 sacks last season, and according to Pro Football Focus also led the NFL in stops with a combined total of 79.
In addition to the passing game, the first quarter matchup will allow McVay to get a good look at the progress of his offensive line, specifically Jamon Brown and Rob Havenstein — who made the switch to right guard and right tackle over training camp.
"It's big," McVay said of going up against the Raiders' defense. "I think that experience, especially for younger players at any position, is extremely beneficial and that's something that we don't take lightly. We know we're going to get an opportunity to go against a great front and great defense in the Oakland Raiders."
After a strong defensive showing in the preseason opener where the Rams held the Cowboys to 48 yards rushing and just 10 points overall, Week 2 against the Raiders will bring the team a new set of challenges.
The Raiders ranked sixth in the NFL in total offense last season, averaging 26 points per game, led by quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper. And though the Rams will not face the Raiders in the regular season, linebacker Alec Ogletree said the game will still give the defense a chance to evaluate its progress thus far.
"Right now it's still kinda early, so you're definitely trying to focus on yourself and do things you need to do for the season. Luckily, Oakland's not on our schedule this year," Ogletree said. "[But] for sure there are things to work on — we did miss a few calls, but we were able to get the job done [last week], even with some of the mistakes."
The Raiders are coming off of a loss to the Cardinals 20-10. But it is important to note that many of their starters, Mack and Cooper included, were held out of the preseason opener and are set to return in Week 2. Overall, Saturday's game should be an exciting challenge for the Rams, who will land in Oakland fresh off of the conclusion to their 2017 training camp.
"I think in terms of what you what to get out of training camp, continuing to try to connect as a team, continue to get better in your offense and defense, and special teams systems, we've gotten a lot of things accomplished," McVay said."[But] Oakland has some premiere players that will pose a great challenge and it's going to be a great evaluation tool for us."
Kickoff is set for Saturday at 7 p.m. For more information on how to watch click here.