It was a missed opportunity on my part to not share, but there were four players on the LA Rams who I thought could have bigger impacts against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10 than I think people around the country were aware they were capable of: Jordan Fuller, Josh Reynolds, Malcolm Brown and Terrell Lewis.
Fuller may not have had a ton of stats, but I’m going to call that four-for-four.
As you’ll see below, three of those players did make significant impacts during LA’s 23-16 win over the Seahawks. The Rams are now 6-3 and flirting with not only winning the division, but hanging in with the rest of the NFC thanks to an elite defense and perhaps some dormant weapons on offense that are getting ready to go boom.
Or at least, note boom.
There were more than just these four players, but I’ll start off with some praise for these guys who made it clear that even if someone only seems them as a “role player,” these are really important roles. In the case of the rookie, obviously the expectations are even higher.
Maybe we shouldn’t underestimate the ceilings of these other guys either.
Josh Reynolds, WR
There’s an expectation that the Rams won’t be able to re-sign any of their 2021 free agents because of cap constraints. That being said, I have to point out that sites like OvertheCap and Spotrac can claim to accurately guesstimate the 2021 salary cap but in reality we have no idea how the NFL will respond to these unusual times. Thirteen teams are projected to be over the 2021 cap already and six of those teams, including the Rams, are more than $20 million over.
If you believe OtC, the Saints are $98.4 million over the 2021 cap.
Something will have to be done to account for this but in any case it seems that Los Angeles will be playing without Josh Reynolds unless he takes a discount to stay in town. That may be surprising to hear given that his career-high for yardage prior to 2020 was 402, but Reynolds has some new bests:
Eight receptions and 94 yards against the Seahawks were career-highs and he’s now at 30 receptions and 416 yards on the season, also career-best marks. Reynolds is only 25 and he’s been LA’s only real deep threat this year. Consider that Willie Snead makes $6 million and Cole Beasley makes $7.25 million and it’s not hard to see a team paying Reynolds at least $5 million per season.
Robert Woods is averaging six receiving yards per game more than Reynolds and Reynolds’ 8.7 yards per target is better than both Woods and Cooper Kupp.
Malcolm Brown, RB
Another 2021 free agent, Brown may be more affordable if Sean McVay wants to keep him around. That doesn’t seem as unlikely after Brown’s two rushing touchdowns on Sunday, giving him a team-high five on the season.
Of course, the team drafted Van Jefferson to fill an upcoming void left by Reynolds and Cam Akers to do the same with Brown. Through seven games of his own, Akers has 45 carries for 186 yards and no touchdowns. He’s been targeted two times. Brown has 81 carries for 347 yards and has been targeted 23 times, more than Darrell Henderson and Akers combined.
He’s not an every down back but Brown is an important down back.
Terrell Lewis, LB
I had to hit up Pro-Football-Reference’s feedback department this morning because Lewis doesn’t have a game log on the site. I wanted to see how much his snaps had gone up week to week, but going through the games’ box scores we can see that he’s been getting increased reps and went from 12 snaps against the Dolphins to a career-high 28 against the Seahawks.
Lewis turned that into two sacks, the most by any rookie in a single game this season. He’s only 1.5 sacks shy of rookie leader Chase Young, who was the second overall pick and hasn’t missed any games like Lewis has. That’s one of the knocks on Lewis that he has to overcome by staying on the field, which if he does, makes him perhaps the second most dangerous pass rushing threat on the team.
Joseph Noteboom, LT
I’m not sure exactly how well Noteboom played and Seattle offers about as little at defensive end as any team in the NFL, but I’d be remiss to not give credit to Noteboom for stepping in during his first game back from injury and taking the snaps in place of Andrew Whitworth. It looks as though Whitworth could be out for the rest of the regular season with a torn MCL, so it’s important for Noteboom, a third rounder in 2018, to keep plugging away and developing into a long-term starter.
As noted, the Rams are going to have to be precise and in some cases lucky with how they proceed under the 2021 salary cap, and given that Austin Blythe is a free agent and Whitworth is nearing 40 years old, a banner second half by Noteboom would go a long way.