In their first preseason win in almost three years, the Los Angeles Rams rode the roster bubble tandem of quarterback Bryce Perkins and wide receiver Lance McCutcheon, past their housemates, the Los Angeles Chargers by a score of 29-22.
The celebration will be short-lived for five Rams. The NFL’s first roster cuts must be in by 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday August 16. Teams not participating in the league’s International Pathway Program, must trim their roster to 85 players, down from 90. The Rams do participate in the program and must drop to 86 from their current 91 players.
It could certainly be one of the injured players, rookie safety Quentin Lake is on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List and wouldn’t be a large loss of draft capital. Warren Jackson just came off the PUP and could be viewed as redundant in LA’s deep receiver unit. But there are a few players on the Rams roster who just don’t quite fit into the Rams schemes and could be the first five on the chopping block.
1. Cornerback Caesar Dancy-Williams
Biting on the inside move and allowing the Chargers to get an easy touchdown probably seals the deal. The Rams secondary looks so young and deep, it’s really only a matter of time for Dancy-Williams. At this early juncture, keeping around the two journeymen, Tyler Hall and Grant Haley makes more sense.
2. Safety Jairon McVay
Again, the secondary is just too overstocked with young potential and it’s imperative the developmental roster bubble/battle players get live snaps. McVea didn’t really do much on special teams or defense to set himself apart. It’s a case of either this cut or next weeks.
3. Running back Trey Ragas
With Kyren Williams back from injury, he will have to take someone’s snaps. It will be Ragas’, who looks a step slow compared to other backs on the field. He is better suited to a power/gap running game and even if injuries befall the Rams RB unit, there are probably better fits for LA’s outside zone.
4. Tight end Jared Pinkney
Pinckney was always a long shot and he didn’t log any snaps against the Chargers. There have been no reports on his injury status, but with Lance McCutcheon showing out at wide receiver, Jacob Harris could hold onto a roster spot as TE4. Quite honestly, the four guys currently ahead of him need all the snaps they can get.
5. Tackle Adrian Ealy
Only played three snaps in the Rams final series, he’s more of a big mauler than light-footed zone blocker. He also seems limited to playing tackle, which goes against the Rams norm of cross-training backups to play up and down the line. Just the sheer amount of LA’s offensive line bodies that need more snaps is enough to make Ealy the odd man out.
How do position units shake out after the first game?
What are fans to make of Bryce Perkins’ future and what will his role be? Be it In LA or parts unknown. Fans, and coaching staff as well, are hard pressed to adjudicate his ability to run the Rams offense, when the preseason version is so vanilla. As a runner, he is obviously a skilled playmaker. He has the speed to get outside containment, nice feet with good moves, and shows stellar contact balance. Yes, he lacks elite arm strength. It seems to be in all parties best interest to put Perkins in a situation (live-game action) where he can show off the ability to make all the throws.
As opening day nears, QB3 is not going to get many meaningful reps in practice, so Perkins real chance lies in these preseason games. On one side, LA again keeps three QB’s and Perk spends another year taking a roster spot, remaining as a gameday inactive and not really providing much value. On the other side, with all the Rams lingering injury problems and lack of experienced depth at many positions, that roster spot might be best served going to a young defensive back or wide receiver who can play on special teams while developing. At the very least, fans will get entertaining preseason games,
The Perkins & McCutcheon show! Bryce Perkins continues to show that he has great value in this league. He provides a new element at the QB position for us. And McCutcheon sure helped separate himself in the WR ranks last night. He showed great concentration and big play ability pic.twitter.com/ayn3IsbNUC— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) August 14, 2022
No noteworthy performances, nothing real bad either. The Rams did run it 35 times, but the leading rusher was QB Perkins. Jake Funk and Raymond Calais both ran hard and hit what holes were there. AJ Rose made a strong touchdown run. Very hard to project any roster movement from this game.
In game one, it was the Lance McCutcheon show. He showed off the physical nature, contested catch ability, and contact balance of his draft projection. Trying to stay off the hype train, McCutcheon still looked like the the dominant player on the field. The problem becomes, will the Rams expand the wide receiver room? He did play on special team coverage so he does have that added value. After his effort in game one, it’s a good start.
Landen Akers and JJ Koski both looked as if they are not-ready-for-prime-time, the unit is too deep for minor mistakes and lost chances. Akers looked shaky returning punts and Koski made a bad read on a jet sweep and couldn’t get his feet down on a sideline pass. Austin Trammel had a couple of catches, but had a drop too.
Sean McVay: "I think certainly" UDFA WR Lance McCutcheon has a shot at making the 53-man roster.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 14, 2022
Roger Carter being the first TE off the bench is the only real news, but he didn’t chart any stats or flash. Kendall Blanton didn’t record any catches and seemed to struggle with sustaining his blocks. Brycen Hopkins had one catch and played on special teams. Jamal Pettigrew had a handful of sustained blocks, but looked a little wooden on pass routes. Status Quo for the tight end position, which means Tyler Higbee and others.
One of the biggest takeaways was from the local TV broadcast, Andrew Whitworth was asserting how vanilla LA’s run blocking schemes were. Mostly inside, straight ahead stuff. The linemen rotated around and some of the younger players got fourth quarter taste. Although the Rams didn’t break any big runs or have a high average yards per rush, there were some good performances. Chandler Brewer had a good second half at left guard. Tremayne Anchrum, Jeremiah Kolone, and and AJ Jackson were overall, pretty solid. Jackson played better at left tackle than right guard. Bobby Evans was, well, Bobby Evans. Jack Snyder got in at center late in the game and had some decent reps.
There are some big roles to be earned here and none of the interior players really stood out. Both the Brown’s, Bobby and Earnest, both had a sack, and of course, any sack is a good one but neither were distinctive. BBrown’s blocker basically whiffed on him and EBrown cleaned up on someone else’s pressure. As a unit, there was not any one player making consistent pressure on pass plays.
Some of the lack of pass pressure could due to the gameplan and without any inside info on the DLine’s scheme responsibilities, it’s hard to say with certainty. Still, the lack of interior push is concerning and should be watched in future games. Against the run, the unit was stout, the Chargers Joshua Kelly, Isiah Spiller, and Larry Rountree are all talented backs. Of the 86 rush yards LA gave up, 22 came when Bolt QB Chase Daniel broke contain on a pass call and found a seam.
DL Bobby Brown hurt his ankle, per McVay. Team still waiting on MRI results but initial X-rays looked encouraging.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 14, 2022
Overall. the edge guys outplayed the down lineman. Benton Whitley showed showed a nice mix of speed and power early in the game. Daniel Hardy was consistently relentless in his effort. Keir Thomas, the DL/OLB tweener had a lot of good reps and hit the QB twice. Brayden Thomas got push late in the game and made a sweet spin move to create QB pressure. All the young players need some work in the flats on pass coverage, particularly KThomas, who looked a little lumbering in space.
Jake Hummel, Anthony Hines, and Jake Gervase combined for 19 tackles. Yes, it was a simple defense versus a simple offense, but each played hard, filled gaps, and made their tackles. All three are still on the bubble and need to stand out on special teams for any real chance.
Good tackling and coverage for the most part. Who knows what to make of Terrell Burgess, the idea of thirds coverage is to contain that deep area of the field and break in on the pass. Robert Rochell looked good in his limited snaps and should see a few snaps in every preseason game, just a few. Derion Kendrick looked good on the underneath coverage, if he can flip open and run with wideouts on deep patterns, it could solidify his role. Rookies Cobie Durant, Russ Yeast, and Daniel Isom, all looked like willing and physical tacklers.
The good news is that kick coverage was good. The bad news is that some of those guys might not make roster. Great hustle and downfield pursuit with wild abandon, drafting those late round guys with hot motors and football IQ showed up versus the Chargers.
Calais missed a real chance, it’s going to be really tough to navigate his way up the running back chart, so he needs to show that he can be the primary kickoff returner to make the roster. Letting a returnable kick (only one yard deep) be ruled a touch back was an unforced error. Having two deep backs on kickoffs was another bad bounce, because dispassionately, Funk is not the answer and he logged two returns.
Rams roster projections going forward
A quick count of Rams that didn’t play sets at 40. Coach Sean McVay can be dodgy about who he plans to play in preseason games. During camp interviews he mentioned a handful a players he was looking forward to seeing in live-game situations and many did not see action versus the Chargers. In a post game interview on Sunday, he talked about running back Kyren Williams, sounding like RB3 was a Williams lock.
“Whether he plays in the next two preseason games, not 100 percent sure, but he’s going to have really heavy workloads at practice. I expect him to be a guy that’s going to help us this year.”
Can a player who shows out in a preseason game, Lance McCutcheon for example, really make that jump from the bottom of a positional unit to the opening roster? Or do the Rams make their roster decisions based on in-practice performance and use preseason games simply for film study?
McVay mentioned the Rams will have an intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 14, 2022