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Who were the “winners” and “losers” in Rams 17-12 preseason loss in Denver?

The Rams fell to 0-3 on the preseason, but there were a number of positive developments from the game

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams lost their third preseason contest against the Denver Broncos Saturday night and fell to 0-3 on the 2021 preseason. Similar to last week’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders, the game came down to the final moments. While the team is likely disappointed in the final result and overall preseason record, there were some encouraging individual performances.

Winners

Corey Bojorquez, Punter

The Rams signed Corey Bojorquez this offseason after he had spent the last two and a half seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Initially, the thought process behind the move was to prevent wear and tear on long-time Ram and veteran Johnny Hekker as the team wanted to give players battling for the starting punt returner role opportunities to work with live kicks. As training camp advanced, and Hekker was placed on the COVID-19 list making him unavailable for the final two preseason contests, Bojorquez has stolen the show.

The punter finished Saturday night with 5 punts for an average of 55.4 yards, including an incredibly impressive bomb that traveled 70 yards and went out of bounds at the 1-yard line.

General Manager Les Snead weighed in on the punter competition earlier this week, and it may be time to revisit his comments after Bojorquez’s performance against the Broncos:

Michael Hoecht, DL

Justin Lawler was the standout pass rusher from the first preseason contest against the Los Angeles Chargers. Chris Garrett was impressive a week ago against the Raiders. The third and final preseason game was Michael Hoecht’s turn to make a name for himself, and he was a disruptive at times during the first half. Two plays sum up Hoecht’s night almost perfectly: a strip sack against quarterback Drew Lock and a big tackle for loss that came as soon as the running back took the handoff.

Matt Gay, Kicker

After shaky kicking performances in the first two preseason games, Matt Gay righted the ship against the Broncos. Gay converted all 4 of his field goal attempts in Denver, including a long attempt of 54 yards. These field goals accounted for all LA’s points, as the team was held out of the end zone.

Tutu Atwell, WR/PR

Tutu Atwell is solidly among the highest targeted receivers during the preseason. The rookie receiver was targeted 12 times on Saturday night, catching 8 passes for 62 yards. He also added another 4 punt returns for 27 yards, the longest of those being a 17 yard return. Atwell looks like the fastest player on the field at times, though his lack of size stands out equally as much. It seems the Rams are trying to give the receiver a heavy work load because he will asked to contribute at times on offense during the regular season, and he missed the first two weeks of training camp after a stint on the COVID-19 list.

While Bryce Perkins has been excellent for the Rams in their three exhibition games, it’s hard not to wonder how the connection would look with Matthew Stafford instead.

Bryce Perkins, QB

The second year signal caller from Virginia, Bryce Perkins, is among the top performers in the preseason for Los Angeles. While it is a lock to expect Stafford and John Wolford to make the final 53-man roster, Perkins’ future is less certain. The quarterback has performed well enough that the Rams likely will not be able to stash him on the practice squad this season, as he would have to pass through waivers without another team claiming him. Quarterback-needy teams will be anxious to take a low-risk flyer in order to see if Perkins can develop into a potential starter.

Against the Broncos Perkins completed 23 passes out of 42 attempts for 201 yards. The signal caller also added another 50 yards on the ground with his longest run representing a gain of 20 yards. It is impressive to watch Perkins evade rushers to either get a pass off or pick up first downs with his legs. However, if there’s a weakness in his game, it’s probably the ability to push the ball downfield.

Losers

Micah Kiser, ILB

Entering training camp Micah Kiser was expected to compete for a starting role at one of the two inside linebacker spots; however, it is fair to question whether he will even be a part of the final 53-man roster. Kiser played late into the game against the Broncos, even participating on the coverage unit for a punt in the fourth quarter. The team may have been using this as an opportunity to put the veteran’s play on film, in case other teams are interested in acquiring him either through a waiver claim (more likely) or a trade.

Johnny Hekker, Punter

Hekker was unavailable to play Saturday night due to being placed on the COVID-19 list prior to the Raiders game. As head coach Sean McVay says, “availability is the best ability”, and it’s possible that Hekker may be on the outside looking in after the punting performance by Bojorquez. We will know the Rams’ preference at punter around the middle of the week following the game. Hekker has had some greats moments as a Ram, so it won’t be easy to part ways.

Terrell Lewis, EDGE

Similar to Kiser, it was odd seeing second year pass rusher Terrell Lewis play so late into the game after being a solid contributor at times during his rookie season. The path for Lewis to make the final regular season roster is currently muddied, as it’s difficult to find spots for preseason standouts Chris Garrett, Michael Hoecht, and Bryce Perkins. All three of these players seem worthy of making the 53-man roster. Should Lewis make the team heading into the regular season, it is a sign the team still believes in his development and long-term potential.

Injuries

The Rams seem to have come out of their third and final preseason contest without suffering any major injuries, which is a promising development after scares with both rookie DL Bobby Brown and RB Xavier Jones. McVay provided some optimistic news on both players in his post-game comments:

Also in the words of McVay - with the preseason in the rear-view mirror, “Now it gets real.”

Poll

Who was the player of the game for the Rams against the Broncos?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Corey Bojorquez
    (1034 votes)
  • 6%
    Matt Gay
    (97 votes)
  • 8%
    Michael Hoecht
    (117 votes)
  • 7%
    Bryce Perkins
    (112 votes)
  • 5%
    Tutu Atwell
    (73 votes)
  • 0%
    Other - let us know in the comments
    (13 votes)
1446 votes total Vote Now