The Los Angeles Rams host the Houston Texans this Friday at 7 PM PT and even if the starters will sit, there will be plenty of opportunities for other Rams to make a name for themselves just as Lance McCutcheon did last week.
Three years ago, the preseason gave the Rams an opportunity to see John Wolford as a quality backup option and Kendall Blanton as an intriguing undrafted tight end, while Greg Gaines, Morgan Fox, Travin Howard, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Troy Reeder, Micah Kiser, Nick Scott, Darious Williams, and Taylor Rapp were able to get their feet wet on defense.
So even if the return on investment isn’t seen for one or three more years, or never, the preseason is still a chance for Rams fans to glimpse a piece of the future.
Which of the players expected to play on Friday could be a part of that vision sooner than expected if they have a great night?
QB Bryce Perkins
He’s been the king of the preseason for the last two years, if only because he’s the most active quarterback in the league during August; no other QB takes 100-percent of the preseason snaps but Perkins is set to do it two years in a row.
The problem is that Perkins has not played like a regular season starting quarterback even if he’s done a commendable job in helping L.A.’s offense during his stints in the preseason.
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
The Rams kept Perkins as a third quarterback in 2021 and they may do it again with Matthew Stafford’s elbow showing wear and tear. But McVay also has an extremely difficult task ahead when he has to cut the roster down to 53 players and most teams still don’t carry an extra quarterback. Could there really be a team out there willing to cut their own backup quarterback in favor of Perkins?
If not, McVay might try to move him onto the practice squad this year. If Perkins plays lights out, that plan could be nixed.
WR Lance McCutcheon
Say what you want about your adoration for Les Snead’s latest late-round/undrafted find, I know for a fact that the NFL is a fickle business and fans are only interested in “What did you do for me lately?”
Lance McCutcheon is HIM— Rampage (@RampageNFL) August 14, 2022
I certainly do not expect McCutcheon to do poorly, he was great and I have NOTHING BAD TO SAY ABOUT HIM. However, the scenario in which McCutcheon has a poor game on Friday (hypothetically) would change the narrative until the Rams play their third and final preseason game.
As noted, McVay has to play a numbers game that allows him to keep everyone he thinks the Rams can’t afford to lose and this room could come down to McCutcheon or Snead’s 2021 fourth round pick, Jacob Harris. We know that Harris isn’t going to play, so this is McCutcheon’s opportunity to make that decision much easier for McVay if it comes down to that.
He must strike now or there won’t be a later.
DB Terrell Burgess
One player who I want to put on this list but can’t because he probably won’t play is linebacker Terrell Lewis. Initially I was going to name Chris Garrett since he might be falling behind Daniel Hardy, but Garrett is also out of this game but due to injury. So for now it looks like Justin Hollins and Lewis are safe at their position, while Hardy is likely moving past Garrett and getting an advantage to make the final 53 as a rookie seventh rounder.
However, another 2020 third round pick needing to have a good season, but in this case a good preseason, is Terrell Burgess.
...and the broadcast shows the replay. That is definitely on Terrell Burgess. Disappointing for a player that needs to take a step up this year.— DOWNTOWN RAMS [DTR] (@DowntownRams) August 14, 2022
The hope at draft time was that Burgess could contribute as early as year one thanks to his versatility and skillset, but here we are in his third season and he’s getting 19 snaps in the preseason; while not drawing rave reviews for it either.
McVay absolutely hates giving up on players drafted in the first few rounds, as evidenced with names like Brian Allen and David Long, but the Rams drafted between 150 to 350 defensive backs this year and so the depth is there to move on if Burgess doesn’t show improvement.
WEAPON Jake Gervase
Is he a linebacker? Is he a safety? Is he a special teamer? Hell, why not just be nice to Jake Gervase for once and call him a weapon.
As I said earlier, McVay doesn’t like to give up on players and sometimes your opportunity can come after several years with the team. Gervase, undrafted out of Iowa in 2019, has spent his entire career with the Rams even though he’s barely ever been active and on the 53-man roster.
Could that change this year?
LS Matt Orzech, S Terrell Burgess and LB Jake Gervase went onto the field as the Rams' captains for tonight's coin toss.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 14, 2022
Gervase played most of the special teams snaps in all four playoff wins last season and as a player with experience both at linebacker and safety, he could fit a number of reserve roles on the defense and potentially help McVay work out those numbers on getting down to 53 players. Gervase played in 29 snaps at strong safety and 11 snaps on special teams in Week 1’s preseason game against the Chargers.
How much will he play on Friday and could he work his way into making the roster out of camp for the first time?
RB Jake Funk
McVay referred to rookie Kyren Williams as “a big part” of the Rams’ 2022 season and there’s a chance that he will be protected throughout the preseason. If Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, and Williams are big parts of the season, where does that leave Funk?
The great news for Funk is that he led offensive players with 12 special teams snaps against the Chargers and we know that’s a role he’s comfortable with. Will all the handoffs go to A.J. Rose and Raymond Calais or could McVay want to see more from the Rams’ 2021 seventh round pick on offense before guaranteeing him a spot on the 53?
Or maybe Funk will be protected this week too.
Who do you think needs a good game the most this week?