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Stetson Bennett sees some good and some room for improvement in first NFL action

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Entering Saturday night's preseason game on the Rams' fourth offensive series, it wasn't the perfect start for rookie quarterback Stetson Bennett.

His first pass was nearly intercepted and returned for a touchdown. He overthrew his receiver on his second pass attempt. On his third, he was almost picked off again.

Yet even with those early hiccups, Bennett on that possession managed to lead the Rams on their first scoring drive, and got more comfortable as the game wore on.

Assessing his performance after the Rams' 34-17 loss to the Chargers at SoFi Stadium, he saw positives and things to work on from his first NFL action, in which he completed 17 of 29 passes for 191 yards and one touchdown while leading eight of the Rams' 11 offensive series.

"I thought it was alright," Bennett said. "I thought there some bone-headed plays that I made, I thought there were some good plays that I made."

Bennett's first series ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver and fellow rookie Puka Nacua, after connecting with Nacua for a 17-yard gain earlier in the drive.

Though the first two series of the second half ended with a punt and a missed field goal, each of the next two possessions with Bennett under center resulted in a touchdown and a field goal respectively.

His best drive – and the one McVay felt he got into a rhythm – was the one that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Royce Freeman.

Starting with a 17-yard completion to wide receiver Tyler Johnson, he then connected with wide receiver Austin Trammell for gains of 12 and 19 yards to set up Freeman's touchdown.

Besides shaking off those early near-picks, the two plays that best captured Bennett's performance came on the possession that ended with the missed field goal. Three plays into the drive, Bennett was sacked for an 11-yard loss on first and 10 from the Rams' own 45. On the next play, he hit wide receiver Tyler Johnson for a 34-yard catch-and-run.

"It's a preseason game, but it's the first NFL game you're playing in," Bennett said. "You're going to come in and be a little nervous trying to make a play when sometimes plays aren't there. But then as it started to groove, we started to call plays, you start to settle in. Once you get hit first, honestly, it's just like everything else."

Bennett said he thought the Rams bounced back a few times from plays where they lost yards and did well on third downs, and was happy that the Rams didn't turn the ball over "even though I tried a few times."

Taking the good and what needs work, Rams head coach Sean McVay said Bennett's performance was "a step in the right direction."

"I thought there was a lot of good opportunities for him to be able to learn from, and you could see some of the things that excite us about him," McVay said.

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