The Las Vegas Raiders defeated the Los Angeles Rams Saturday night at Sofi Stadium 17-16 after LA was unable to convert a two-point extra point attempt in the game’s final moments. Some notable players competed in the second preseason contest that did not appear in the first game against the Los Angeles Chargers, such as safety Terrell Burgess and linebackers Micah Kiser and Travin Howard. While the team was disappointed with not coming away with a victory, there were some encouraging individual performances.
Bryce Perkins, QB
Bryce Perkins continued his stretch of impressive play a week removed from a strong outing against the Chargers. After rotating series at quarterback with Devlin “Duck” Hodges in Week 1 of the preseason, Perkins played every offensive snap versus the Raiders. The second-year signal caller completed 26 passes out of 39 attempts totaling 208 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception, and he added another 41 yards as a runner. Head Coach Sean McVay was planning to have Hodges tag in at some point, but the coach was pleased with how the offense operated with Perkins at the helm and kept him in for the entirety of the game.
It wasn’t initially in the plan for Bryce Perkins to play the entire game, said Sean McVay, but he liked how Perkins was operating in the flow of the game and wanted to keep him in.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 22, 2021
Now that Perkins has put together two outstanding preseason performances, it will be significantly more difficult for the Rams to sneak the former Virginia Cavalier onto the practice squad. While backup quarterback John Wolford is fairly athletic and mobile, Perkins could help prepare the first team defense against mobile quarterbacks they will face this season, such as Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, and potentially Trey Lance and Justin Fields.
One area of his game that needs refined, however, is his deep ball. Perkins was late on a couple deep passes intended for speedy receiver Tutu Atwell, one misfire leading to an interception by Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs.
Chris Garrett, EDGE
Chris Garrett had the best individual performance on the defense Saturday night, recording a tipped ball that lead to an interception by JR Reed, a big tackle for loss, a half sack with Jonah Williams, and a flashy sack that forced Raiders quarterback Nathan Peterman to lose the ball. Los Angeles drafted Garrett in the seventh round out of the division II football program at Concordia-St. Paul, and the rookie had unreal pass rush and fumble production in college. The Rams contended that Garrett had all the athletic tools needed to be successful in the NFL, and the best way for him to refine his craft would be to compete against higher level talent. It is impressive to see the rookie produce the way he has so far in the preseason, though he is competing against mostly second and third string blockers.
Seventh-round pick @garrettchris52 notched a TFL and a sack-forced fumble...— NFL (@NFL) August 22, 2021
On the SAME drive.
Watch @aarondonald97 and the @RamsNFL bench hype him up.
: #LVvsLAR on @NFLNetwork (or check local listings)
: https://t.co/aybjCmju9Y pic.twitter.com/WJd5GI3gIP
Jake Funk & Xavier Jones, RB
Mostly a result of the subpar performance by the Rams interior OL, running backs Jake Funk, Xavier Jones, and Raymond Calais had an overall average of 2.5 yards per carry last week against the Chargers. The LA offensive line created much more running room this week, as Funk carried the ball 7 times for 56 yards and Jones had 7 attempts for 29 yards. Jones also recorded one catch for 10 yards.
This was really the first opportunity to see either of the young running backs in significant NFL action and the results were encouraging. Funk displayed some power as a runner and was able to break tackles. Jones displayed quickness and versatility as a receiver, though he did have at least a catch or two called back due to penalty. While neither running separated themselves as the primary backup to lead back Darrell Henderson, the Rams should have confidence that both can hold complementary roles this season.
Tutu Atwell, WR
The Rams clearly wanted to get the ball to Atwell often in order to acclimate the rookie to the offense after a slow start to training camp and a stint on the COVID-19 list. The speedster was targeted 13 times and recorded 8 receptions for 46 yards. While these numbers do not necessarily stand out, perhaps his most impressive plays were incompletions. Perkins missed throws to Atwell on at least a couple occasions, the most notable being on a in-breaking route that the receiver had to wait on and the interception to Hobbs where Atwell had at least a step on the nearest defender. Rams fans are left wondering if the results would have been different with Matthew Stafford attempting the passes; however, it is a promising development to see Atwell’s speed translate to the NFL game so far.
Bobby Brown, DL
While it should probably take more than a one play highlight to make the winners list, it is difficult to find a more satisfying tackle for loss than the one Bobby Brown recorded at the end of the first quarter. The rookie fourth round draft selection went through both the left guard and full back in order to stop the running back in the backfield. This is a play that even star Aaron Donald would be proud to add to his highlight reel.
Jacob Harris, TE/WR
While not featured in the offense as heavily as he was last week, Jacob Harris still continued to show promise as a receiver. In the final moments of the game, Harris caught a short touchdown pass from Perkins and then was the target on what would have been the game-winning two point conversion. If Harris is involved in the Rams offense this season, it will likely be as a situational role player. Given his size and ability to high point passes, including what he was able to demonstrate tonight, LA may look to leverage the rookie in the red zone.
Devlin “Duck” Hodges, QB
After rotating with Perkins last week, Hodges didn’t see the field Saturday night against the Raiders. While the Rams have a tough decision to make with Perkins as it relates to the final 53 man roster, the writing is likely on the wall for Hodges. The veteran signal caller has starting experience from his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, so he should at least be on a short list for teams that may suffer injury at the quarterback position.
Matt Gay, K
Just hours before kickoff Saturday, the Rams placed both punters Johnny Hecker and Corey Bojorquez on the COVID-19 list to make the unavailable for the game against the Raiders. Matt Gay stepped up to handle punting duties in addition to his normal role as kicker; however, his performance in his day job was a bit concerning. Gay missed an extra point kick last week against the Chargers and then had 1 of his 2 field goal attempts blocked against the Raiders. While almost automatic since joining Los Angeles last season, it may be time to start growing concerned about the performance at kicker.
Raymond Calais, RB
Reserve running back and return specialist Raymond Calais suffered an ankle injury in the game against the Raiders. Coach McVay indicated in his post game press conference that the injury will likely require surgery. It is not yet known how long Calais will be out, but this likely takes his name out of consideration as a reserve runner to Henderson and as the primary punt/kick returner to start the season. The Rams may need to explore acquiring another running back, though it may be better to wait until other teams start trimming their rosters.
Raymond Calais (ankle/foot) will need surgery, per McVay.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 22, 2021
TreMayne Anchrum got his ankle rolled up on, McVay says he thinks he’s OK.