IT’S FOOTBALL TIME!
With the exception of LG Rodger Saffold III, C John Sullivan, DL Ndamukong Suh, S Lamarcus Joyner and ILB Mark Barron, the Rams return their starting roster from 2018. Those losses, combined with injury questions, played a large part in who we will be paying closer attention to this weekend.
RB Todd Gurley
The patella novella needs no introduction. We will all be watching how Gurley is used in addition to how effective he is with his touches.
WR Cooper Kupp
Ten months removed from a torn ACL, Kupp is ready to roll. He wasn’t held back in training camp and looks ready to dominate in the slot once again. Nonetheless, Rams fans will be watching his snap count and explosiveness in an attempt to gauge whether he truly is 100% back from injury.
C Brian Allen
Where Gurley and Kupp are listed because of injury concerns, Allen is stepping into a starting role for the first time. A 4th round pick in 2018, Allen sat behind Sullivan and hopes to put fans’ concern to bed.
He’ll face an extremely talented Panthers defensive line that features Dontari Poe, Gerald McCoy, and Kawann Short. It’s unclear how much of the signal calling Allen will face, but expect Sean McVay to help him out whenever possible.
DL Sebastian Joseph-Day
SJD is another youngster stepping into a starting role. This might be more of a timeshare between him and Greg Gaines, but SJD is listed as the starter and will have the first opportunity to claim the nose tackle slot between Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers.
CB Marcus Peters
Peters is the outlier here. He was an enigma in 2018: the epitome of a feast or famine player. He started strong, struggled when fellow CB Aqib Talib was injured, then finished strong in the playoffs.
He’s playing for a big deal in 2019, so you better believe he’s motivated to ball out. With the Panthers WR corps extremely lacking in big play ability, I fully expect Peters to set a precedent of dominance in week 1.