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Rams Stock Up, Stock Down after Preseason Week 2

Another night for Lance McCutcheon, a struggle for the backup offensive line

NFL: Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams fell, 24-20, to the Houston Texans on Friday night in Week 2 of the preseason. However, when it comes to the preseason, it’s less about the final score and more about how the players perform on the field as they compete for places on the 53-man roster.

Despite their first loss of the preseason, there are some positives that the Rams can take out of that game. The L.A. Rams were also sloppy in some areas. Here’s a quick stock up, stock down look at the Rams roster after the loss to the Texans.

Stock Up: WR Lance McCutcheon

Lance McCutcheon’s stock was already soaring after Week 1 of the preseason. The undrafted wide receiver out of Montana State stole the show against the Chargers with five catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner.

However, the question always was whether or not McCutcheon could follow it up with another strong performance. The answer was yes. McCutcheon led all receivers in the game with 96 yards on five catches. There are times when it looks like he doesn’t belong on the same field as a lot of guys who might make the opposing teams’ practice squad.

The Rams wide receiver room is very deep. Keeping McCutcheon is not going to be easy as they’ll likely have to decide whether or not to keep seven receivers plus Jacob Harris. With his performances this preseason, McCutcheon is giving the Rams a lot to think about when it comes to roster cuts as he’s simply on another level right now.

Stock Down: Offensive Line Depth

It was a rough night for the offensive line, but there are a few things worth pointing out here as well. The first is that preseason offensive line play rarely looks good. Coaches are shuffling guys around and seeing how players look in difference positions. Secondly, the same group featured in the preseason will hopefully never all be playing at the same time in the regular season.

In Logan Bruss’ case, there’s a big difference playing next to Bobby Evans, who has struggled for a lot of his career, and Rob Havenstein. That’s a big gap in not only talent, but experience. Who you play next to matters especially as a young player.

The Rams offensive line allowed six sacks on Friday night which isn’t a great number at first glance. However, It’s worth mentioning that five of those sacks came in the first half when the Texans were playing their starters.

NFL: Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Bruss, he left the game with a right knee injury and didn’t return. Sean McVay said after the game that Bruss was in a knee brace and it “didn’t look good”. Injuries happen, but if there’s one place you don’t want to see them, it’s on the offensive line. Overall, not a positive night for this group.

Stock Up: Rams Young DBs

Up until the final drive of the first half, the Houston Texans with Davis Mills had four first downs, were 1-for-5 on third down, and were averaging 1.6 yards per play. Mills was 6-for-10 for 27 yards and had a passer rating of 64.6.

After being on the end of a communication breakdown in the secondary, Terrell Burgess bounced back on Friday night. The young safety came up with two plays on third down - one of which was an open-field tackle on Rex Burkhead and the other a pass breakup to force a punt on 3rd-and-9. There have been some questions about Burgess, but he played well.

Additionally, Robert Rochell stole the show on defense. Rochell had a nice pass breakup on a third down in the first half and also forced a fumble that was recovered by Derion Kendrick. Kendrick was in coverage on the Nico Collins touchdown, but it was simply a good play by Collins. Decobie Durant should have had an interception in the first half, but did finish the night with a sack.

In the second half, Duron Lowe shined. Lowe had a pass breakup in the end zone to deny a touchdown. He also forced the fumble on the punt return that resulted in a Roger Carter scoop and score.

Stock Down: QB John Wolford

It’s really difficult to evaluate John Wolford when the offensive line plays like it did. Wolford simply didn’t have time to drop back and throw. The run-game was non-existent. Still, after converting on fourth down, Wolford had an unforced fumble that lost yards and killed the drive.

He finished with 142 yards on 14/22 passing. However, the offense lacked sharpness and had missed opportunities.

Bryce Perkins came in the game in the second half and provided a spark for the offense. Perkins was sharp and used his athleticism regularly. Last season, Perkins joined the Rams as a raw player, but has developed nicely over the last year. His pass to Austin Trammell on third down in the fourth quarter was placed over two defenders. The offense just looks better with Perkins on the field.

It’s likely the Rams keep three quarterbacks, but while McVay and co. may say there isn’t a quarterback competition, it’s hard to wonder whether the Rams see Perkins as only a third-string quarterback.

Stock Up: DL Jonah Williams & TE Brycen Hopkins

Jonah Williams put on his best Aaron Donald impression against the Houston Texans offensive line on Friday night. Williams was a star on the defensive line, showing up in both the run and pass game. He finished with an impressive four tackles.

NFL: Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Williams’ most impressive moment came in the first half when he spun past Max Scharping to sack Davis Mills and force a fumble on third down. Houston recovered the fumble, but still had to punt. With his performance on Friday, Williams showed why he deserves a roster spot and a place in the defensive line rotation.

After being invisible for much of the first two years of his career, Brycen Hopkins showed up when it mattered last season. It was Hopkins who drew Von Bell down on Matthew Stafford’s no-look pass in the Super Bowl. He also had a critical block on Cooper Kupp’s fourth down conversion.

Hopkins seems to have the tight end spot behind Tyler Higbee in a firm grasp. Hopkins caught a game-high six passes in the first half for 41 yards. One of those grabs came on 4th-and-2 to get a first down and keep the drive alive. Hopkins should have a larger, more consistent role in the offense this season.