The LA Rams are just a few days away from their first preseason game of 2021, “hosting” the LA Chargers at SoFi Stadium on Saturday at 7 PM. You can watch the game on the NFL Network, and I assume that millions will be joining you because oh my god, football is kind of back.
We never really discuss the mental toughness a player has to have to succeed in front of millions of people, especially if you haven’t played in a game of any kind in two years. That will be the case for many of this weekend’s ‘bubble’ players around the NFL, guys who were maybe signed or drafted in 2020 but didn’t get a preseason and then never appeared in a regular season game.
There are a ton of those players.
What sort of nerves or butterflies will those ‘bubble’ roster players have when they step into game action, in front of millions of viewers, for the first time in about 24 months? And in some case, guys who haven’t played meaningful snaps for an even longer period of time than that.
While I think it is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT to show up to work everyday and impress coaches in practices and meetings, the preseason will serve as an opportunity for players buried on the depth chart to show that they deserve more snaps in practice. And if you get more snaps in practice, you could get more snaps in a game, preseason or regular. All you need to do is get your name trending on Saturday (for good reasons) and that could be enough for Sean McVay to elevate you in practice next week.
There are a few names on the roster who have piqued my interest in that regard and I think they could go from the bubble to proving themselves worth of the 53. I detailed who those names are in greater detail on another new episode of the Pod-TST podcast.
I’ll jot down a few names and a few notes below, just in case you refuse to listen to the show, but the full picture of the ‘bubble’ can be heard by pressing play or finding it on your podcast app and hitting that subscribe button.
Some fascinating names ‘on the bubble’:
QB Devlin Hodges
We know that Matthew Stafford won’t play and that John Wolford is recovering from an appendectomy, so now it’s up to Bryce Perkins and Hodges to lead the way against the Chargers. I find Hodges to the more intriguing of the two based on the plays and throws that he’s able to make in camp, and combining that with some of the impressive play (and 4-0 start) that he had with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019.
WR J.J. Koski
He didn’t get to prove himself in the preseason last year because there was no preseason, but the former Division-II star and 2020 undrafted free agent landed on the practice squad and has hung on for a reason. He was listed surprisingly high on the first depth chart and he should be a first string player against LA on Saturday night because Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and DeSean Jackson have no business in this game.
CB Dont’e Deayon
An interesting part about being a bubble player that we never talk about is that a good month vs a bad month could be the difference in half a million dollars or more. Deayon is going into his sixth year in the league because he’s the type of person who everybody wants to have in the building, in practices, energizing the defense and cutting up the coaches. Somebody finally give this man $1 million. He’s earned it.
P Corey Bojorquez
He doesn’t seem like a true bubble player because Johnny Hekker is virtually guaranteed the job, but what will LA do with him if he really proves to boot it astoundingly? Bojorquez was the NFL’s leader in net yards per punt in 2020 and a good preseason for him should no less than guarantee him a future somewhere.
I go into greater detail in the show.