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Three Keys: Rams vs. Broncos, preseason week 3

The Los Angeles Rams begin the back-half of their preseason schedule Saturday evening against the Denver Broncos at L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT.

Ahead of the game, examines three keys for L.A.


1. What can the Rams offense do against a stout Broncos defense?

Los Angeles' second-team offense will face a stern test against Denver. 

On Monday, the Broncos' defense held San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to 1 for 6 passing with zero passing yards and 0.0 quarterback rating. While the 49ers ultimately won 24-15, they were also held under 300 total yards of offense with a pair of turnovers.

Whether the Broncos choose to give their defensive starters snaps again on Saturday remains to be seen, as head coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday afternoon he's uncertain about doing so. But if they do play, it will provide some good film for Los Angeles, regardless of the number of series.  

It will be an especially valuable opportunity for backup quarterback Blake Bortles as Denver has allowed the third-fewest passing yards per game in the preseason (140.3).

The Rams return from Hawaii to practice in Thousand Oaks, Calif. ahead of the team's third preseason game against the Denver Broncos.

2. How will Bryce Hager's expanded role impact the defense?

The first two weeks of the preseason marked an audition and evaluation period for the starting MIKE linebacker position. Now, with Micah Kiser out indefinitely following surgery to repair a left pectoral injury, Bryce Hager is expected to handle those duties for at least the remainder of the preseason. 

Both players had been receiving snaps prior to Kiser's injury. Considering that same setback, while unfortunate, won't be changing McVay's approach to playing key defensive contributors in need of additional reps leading into the regular season, Hager will likely be in line for more work against the Broncos. 

Hager is entering his third year in the Rams' system, so from that standpoint there figures to be little if any drop off.

3. How much will RB John Kelly contribute?

While the focus in most of's observation pieces over the last two weeks have been on Darrell Henderson's increased workload, another member of the backfield also deserves some attention for his recent play. 

RB John Kelly chipped in five carries for 11 yards and hauled in his lone target in the passing game for nine yards in last Saturday's 14-10 loss to the Cowboys in Hawaii, earning praise from McVay afterward for helping Los Angeles' offense turn a few second-and-long situations in more manageable third down attempts.n

The 2018 sixth-round draft choice has rushed eight times for 21 yards, with three receptions for 11 yards through the first two weeks of the preseason.

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