The Los Angeles Rams are taking on the Green Bay Packers in LA for the first time since 1991.
While Rams fans are, understandably, concerned with QB Aaron Rodgers, the Pack will have 45 other active players on gameday.
Here are some names flying under the radar for Rams fans to be aware of from Evan “Tex” Western of Acme Packing Company, the SB Nation community for Packers fans.
On offense, keep an eye out for Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a fifth-round rookie out of South Florida, particularly if Randall Cobb is limited on Sunday. Even if Cobb is full-go, Valdes-Scantling has demonstrated that he deserves at least a handful of snaps and a few targets each game thanks to his great speed and ability to correct mistakes. Over the past two games, he has ten receptions for 171 yards and a touchdown, and has big plays of 60, 38, and 30 yards this year. He and fellow rookie Equanimeous St. Brown aren’t just the best names on the team -- they’re developing into legitimate receiving threats in year one as they continue to develop chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. And after all, Rodgers won’t throw the ball to you unless he trusts you.
Defensively, watch out for safety/slot corner/dime linebacker Jermaine Whitehead. The former undrafted free agent has been a do-everything player in his second full year with the Packers, earning comparisons to Micah Hyde for the numerous ways that the Packers are using him. He’ll cover slot receivers, tight ends, and even running backs out of the backfield, and I expect him to be used at least a bit in coverage on Todd Gurley this Sunday. One caveat is that much of his workload has come with one or more of the Packers’ top four corners out, and the secondary should be at full strength this weekend, even getting free agent Bashaud Breeland on the field for the first time. Still, the Packers prefer to go with their 3-3-5 and 2-4-5 nickel packages against everything but 22 personnel, and if they can get the Rams into any semblance of third-and-long, look for some wacky dime looks from Mike Pettine’s defense. If Whitehead can keep Gurley at least somewhat in check in the passing game, that will hopefully bode well for the defense.
One other name to mention is rookie inside linebacker Oren Burks, whose playing time will depend on whether the Packers like the matchups up front with a three- or two-man line. If they do stick with the 2-4-5, Burks should be the man playing next to Blake Martinez on the inside. The third-round pick, who converted from safety midway through his college career at Vanderbilt -- is a great athlete and cover man, though he still faces a learning curve in shedding blocks in the run game. Still, he could be another candidate to match up with Gurley out of the backfield if the Packers elect not to use Whitehead in that role as much.
Thanks to my man Tex for the time.