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.
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.
Player of the game here in Denver. #rams punter Corey Bojorquez. He has a 67 yard punt, another downed inside the one and just had a 70 yard punt go out of bounds at the Broncos 1. He has a 56 average tonight on 4 punts.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) August 29, 2021
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:
This is interesting.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) August 25, 2021
Asked directly if the Rams have already decided if they’re keeping their longest tenured player, punter Johnny Hekker, or going with Corey Bojorquez:
"That decision’s not made.”
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.
Pretty sure Michael Hoecht was making this team, anyway. But his production tonight could cement his case. Had a great camp and carried it through the preseason. Compares himself to Morgan Fox, and the Rams could certainly use that role player on their D-line.— J.B. Long (@JB_Long) August 29, 2021
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.
Bryce Perkins just does not get rattled. Aside from getting a handle on this offense in just his second season w/hardly any reps (and no scout team), aside from his clear ability...it's his poise that I think makes it so risky if the Rams do decide to subject him to waivers.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 29, 2021
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.
Going into training camp, would not have guessed that Micah Kiser would be the linebacker left in to play the second half of a preseason game. Not really a good sign for his future with the team.— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) August 29, 2021
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.
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:
Sean McVay said he thinks RB Xavier Jones and DL Bobby Brown III will be OK after appearing to sustain injuries in the second half of tonight's game against the Broncos.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 29, 2021
Also in the words of McVay - with the preseason in the rear-view mirror, “Now it gets real.”
Sean McVay concludes his postgame conversation with us by saying, "Now it gets real."— J.B. Long (@JB_Long) August 29, 2021
Happy for so many Rams individuals who made memorable plays tonight and deepened their film for all 32 teams.
53-man roster is the focus, but we all know it takes far more to win a title.
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