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How Much Will Los Angeles' Starters Play vs. Houston on Saturday?

The third preseason game is traditionally known as the "dress rehearsal" game around the NFL, where starters get their last bit of preseason work before the games count. 

After head coach Sean McVay elected to rest all but two starters for the first couple of exhibition matchups, most starters appear slated to play in the game against the Texans. 

However, McVay did say on Thursday that running back Todd Gurley, left tackle Andrew Whitworth, and center John Sullivan will not be a part of Saturday's action. And depending on the availability of right tackle Rob Havenstein — who tweaked an ankle during practice this week — quarterback Jared Goff also may not play.

Check out photos from the Los Angeles Rams Wednesday practice leading up to preseason week 3.

Defensively, however, the starters all seem good to go — with the exception of Mark Barron, who McVay has said will not see game action until Week 1. This will be the first chance to see defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, cornerback Aqib Talib, and cornerback Marcus Peters in a Rams uniform at the Coliseum. It will also be Cory Littleton's first test as Los Angeles' defensive signal-caller. 

"[W]e try to do everything like game situations all the time," Littleton said this week. "So wholeheartedly, I feel like I should be ready."

With Suh, the veteran defensive lineman said one reason he's looking forward to playing is because he'll be able to actually tackle to the ground. 

"I think it's good. And kind of going back to having the opportunity to go against other teams like Baltimore, like we did two weeks ago," Suh said. "And, obviously, getting real, live game action — because in those practices, we can't hit the quarterback. But in these games, we can. So it's always good to get a couple bumps, hits, and get to the real thing in Week 1."

Defensive tackle (93) Ndamukong Suh of the Los Angeles Rams practices during Day 6 of Training Camp, Wednesday, August 01, 2018, in Irvine, CA. (Will Navarro/Rams)

Peters kept it fairly simple when describing what he's looking to accomplish in Saturday's contest, saying he'd like to see the defense record three-and-outs and get off the field.

"We go out there execute the play calls, and go out there and we have fun — first time being back there on the field. And enjoy our work that we get for the day," Peters said. 

Talib and Peters have formed a partnership on and off the field through the offseason program and training camp, but now will need to translate that to game action. Talib said this week that's one task he's look to accomplish on Saturday.

Starting cornerbacks #22 Marcus Peters, 21 
Aqib Talib, #23 Nickell Robey-Coleman, and Safety #20 Lamarcus Joyner of the Los Angeles Rams during the 2018-2019 season, day four of training camp, at UC Irvine, in Irvine Calif., on July 29th, 2018. (Daniel Bowyer/Rams)

"I think the feel is there. But this game will be good for us, too, getting those full-speed reps with the safeties, with all of us together, Cory [Littleton] — just everybody that has to communicate in that backend, all of us getting full-speed reps," Talib said. "I'm sure they'll hit us with some tempo, so we have to communicate fast. We'll have our crowd, so it'll be loud, a lot of signaling. So it'll be good for all of us." 

It's probably reasonable to expect the starters to play a few series on Saturday — not too much, but enough to establish a bit of a rhythm. And in that time, McVay said he'd like for the units to "play crisp, play sound, fundamental football." 

"Looking to see these guys just execute at a high level – know what their assignment is, play fast, play confident and really play together," McVay continued. "But, you want to see good fundamentally-sound football. Just good execution on both sides and really, that third phase as well with special teams. That's what we're looking for."