THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Rams head coach Sean McVay has said that quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and John Wolford won't play in the preseason. As a result, Los Angeles' three preseason games present a big opportunity for Bryce Perkins and Devlin Hodges, beginning Saturday night against the Chargers at SoFi Stadium (7 p.m. pacific time, ABC-7 locally and NFL Network nationally.)
"I think just good operation," Rams head coach Sean McVay said, when asked what he wants them to get out of Saturday's game. "Being good distributors of the football, getting us in and out as some of the right looks and really just enjoying themselves. I think making sure that you remind yourself to enjoy the moment, play to the best of your ability, try to play with a quieted mind and let the other 10 guys around you help you as well. Looking forward to both of those guys playing well."
For both players, it represents the first opportunity to get live reps in almost two years, and afford the Rams a closer look at both in a different setting.
Perkins, who originally joined the Rams as an undrafted free agent signee out of the University of Virginia last year, spent the entire 2020 season on their practice squad. He was elevated from the practice squad to the active gameday roster ahead of the Rams' divisional round playoff game against the Packers but ended up being inactive.
As a result, the closest thing to live game action he received last year was the pair of intra-squad scrimmages Los Angeles held at SoFi Stadium during training camp. His last live game he appeared in was in college at Virginia, when the Cavaliers took on Florida in the Orange Bowl on December 30, 2019.
"Last year, we didn't get a chance of the preseason, so kind of the first time getting out there in a game environment, competing, going out there performing all the things that we practiced over the last year – for me for the last two years, this last year, I'm just gonna be excited," Perkins said. "And I know the energy is gonna be up."
Hodges joined Perkins among the 16 players to sign reserve/future contracts, arriving in Los Angeles after spending the previous two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
An undrafted free agent signee by Pittsburgh of Samford in 2019, Hodges last saw live game action that year, when he started six of the eight games he appeared in following an injury to starter Ben Roethlisberger and completed 100 of 160 pass attempts for 1,063 yards and five touchdowns with eight interceptions.
Like Perkins, he spent the 2020 season on his original team's practice squad after participating in a pair of intra-squad scrimmages. His last live game appearance was the Steelers' Week 17 road game against the Ravens in Baltimore on December 29, 2019.
After building a bond with his new Rams teammates during training camp in Irvine, Hodges' focus has shifted toward mastering the playbook and getting the base concepts of L.A.'s offense down.
"Now with it being game week, it's kind of getting a good idea of what we're going to do this Saturday, getting ready to go out and play and be the best I can be for the team," Hodges said.
Rams wide receiver Trishton Jackson, who caught multiple passes from both players during training camp at UC Irvine, said Saturday's preseason game is "definitely big" for both Hodges and Perkins in multiple ways.
"Just them getting time to actually get out there and show everybody what they're capable of doing, their leadership skills," Jackson said after Thursday's practice. "Being in our offense, leading everybody, getting everybody lined up, and stuff like that. It's a big deal for both of them. I'm excited to see both of them in the preseason, and just ready to have fun, too."