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Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals: Snaps, stats and sightings

Each week, we’ll examine how the snaps were distributed among the Rams players and break down what the numbers mean.

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams were dominant from start to finish against the Arizona Cardinals. In the process, they got some valuable rest time for marquee players and some action for the backups.

Here are my 10 observations from the game:

  1. RB Todd Gurley got valuable rest. After playing 59 offensive snaps and 94 percent of the total snaps on that side of the ball in week one against the Oakland Raiders, Gurley’s breathers came more often against the hapless Cardinals. He was in on 49 offensive snaps and only 68 percent of the total, something that’ll pay dividends as the season wears on.
  2. RG Austin Blythe is for real. Blythe played all 72 snaps on offense and could supplant RG Jamon Brown as the latter returns from a suspension for good. Pro Football Focus credited Blythe with only two pressures this week.
  3. Efficiency and dominance. It didn’t take long for WR Brandin Cooks to have a breakout game. QB Jared Goff found Cooks to the tune of seven receptions for 159 yards after the latter exploited holes in the Cardinals’ zone defense. The stat line was big, but Cooks’ efficiency, credited with 4.68 yards per route run by PFF, was a big reason for the blowout victory.
  4. The luxury of downtime. The Cardinals’ cumulative offensive ineptitude was also a boon for several front seven defensive players. DL Aaron Donald, DL Michael Brockers and DL Ndamukong Suh were among those that played 35 snaps or less.
  5. S John Johnson III was all over the field. In only 35 snaps, Johnson accounted for six tackles and an assist, making or helping to make a stop on one out of five plays he was on the field for.
  6. CB Sam Shields played his first regular season defensive snaps since 2016 and snagged his first regular season interception since Week 14 of the 2015 season. After he eased back into football action with 15 special teams snaps against Oakland, Shields was in on 11 defensive snaps against Arizona.
  7. KR/PR JoJo Natson Jr. looks electric. Picked up off the waiver wire after Pharoh Cooper’s injury, Natson had a big 60 yard return in the second quarter and averaged 22 yards per punt and kick return for 133 yards total in nine special teams snaps.
  8. TE Tyler Higbee scores, but tight ends still largely an afterthought. Of Goff’s 24 completions, just two went to Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett for a total of 20 yards and a late score.
  9. Backups get some time. After combining for zero defensive snaps last week, CB Troy Hill, ILB Bryce Hager, S Isaiah Johnson, EDGE Justin Lawler and DB Blake Countess all made it on the field for 36 combined snaps.
  10. P Johnny Hekker is a treasure. Hekker boomed punts as per usual when called upon for an average of 51 yards per, but also knocked in a 20 yard field goal.