THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – As the Rams wrap up Week 2 of the preseason and turn their attention to Week 3, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur saw more teachable moments to be applied to a young roster from last Saturday's game against the Raiders.
"Just more learning opportunities, right?" LaFleur said. "Again, a lot of new guys out there, a lot of rookies, a lot of second year guys just playing in their second preseason game of this year, so, good for (quarterback) Stetson (Bennett) to go out there as the starter in terms of how different that is coming in as the starter compared to being the number two. So some good, some bad, and some in between and a lot of things to coach off of."
Bennett perhaps best encapsulated that.
He completed 7 of 11 pass attempts and was moving the ball well before his 12th pass attempt was intercepted and returned for a touchdown due to thinking the receiver was going to run a different route. Nonetheless, he bounced back and completed eight of his final 12 pass attempts to finish 15 of 24 overall, rushing for a 4-yard touchdown at the end of an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended up being his final series of the night.
"Yeah, you could totally see it, just the resiliency of him, right?" LaFleur said. "Obviously, we came out at halftime and went three-and-out or four-and-out, whatever it was, and he was going to get two series. It was either going to be one series if it was good, or two series if the first series didn't go so well, and for him to finish with that offensive group in the end zone and in a pretty productive drive right there was good to see and like you said, he has the ability to bounce back. You don't see anything in his eyes, except he just wants to be back out there and that's from practice or in the game."
The offensive line was just as closely watched as quarterback, given the younger players that are seeing time in the preseason and their expected roles. Logan Bruss continued to see action at right tackle until exiting the game with a lateral ankle sprain.
The Rams also got an extended look at Alaric Jackson at left tackle and Steve Avila at left guard, giving them more opportunities to learn how to play off of each other.
"Kind of what I was just saying right there just because of what's been going on with Boom (offensive lineman Joe Noteboom), being able for those guys to get used to each other, playing off of each other. I thought they got better as the game went on as well, which again, you like to see," LaFleur said. "They got settled in. Again, it's Steve's second game ever albeit the preseason and Alaric hasn't played a ton of football in his career. He is still a young man as well. So those guys, I thought they got better. I thought they did particularly a good job as the game went on in pass protection, clearing out the pocket."
There was one particular play by Avila that impressed LaFleur.
"I thought they did particularly a good job as the game went on in pass protection, clearing out the pocket," LaFleur said. "Steve had one working off of a defensive end kind of working a little spin move, I guess you could say on Alaric, and Steve putting that guy on the ground and enjoying his work too if you guys saw that. So it's good for those guys to get the reps together and that showed as the game went on."
In terms of evaluating offensive line play overall, LaFleur looks for players not making the same mistake twice and also continuity.
"Yeah, I think there's two things, not making the same mistake twice, right?" LaFleur said. "You're going to be shuffling these guys around. They're going from left tackle to right guard in some instances, and then obviously just shuffling around within right guard or left guard what have you. You know mistakes are going to be made, but how can you correct those mistakes making sure that moving forward they don't happen. And then really the continuity, we don't have great continuity right now whether it be injuries or moving guys around and that's understood. We understand that, but when there is a time where we have the same five guys out there for a string of plays, how well are they working off of each other? How well are their combinations? How well are they passing off games? Every day is an evaluation, not just to see who our best five are going to be, but to see how those guys are working together."