In a rematch from last year’s Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams will travel to Cincinnati and take on the Bengals in their third and final NFL preseason game. The game won’t kickoff until Saturday, but LA will fly east Tuesday and hold two joint practice’s with the Big Cats on Wednesday and Thursday.
While Rams coach Sean McVay doesn’t risk his starting players and key reserves in preseason games, in the past he has put a lot of stock in these workouts and scrimmages - getting the first team unit full contact work in a controlled atmosphere. Previous workout opponents have been the Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor, coming from the McVay coaching tree, sits his starters and key reserves in preseason games as well. Taylor began working for LA in 2017 as an assistant wide receivers coach and was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2018. He has two losing trips to the Super Bowl that are linked to the Rams, falling just short to his mentor last year 23-20 and being part of LA’s 2018 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots.
For LA, there are still plenty of roster battles to be sorted out. With the emphasis that McVay puts on these joint workouts and practice reps in general, we could start to see separation among the depth chart at various positions:
QB#2 seems to be a tossup depending on which style of play you prefer. Both John Wolford and Bryce Perkins have both shown they can move the team.
QB John Wolford will get the start this Friday. A pleasant surprise but one I am excited for! Wolford could definitely use some more in game reps since his big emergence in 2020, after his fantastic 2019 preseason. With Bryce Perkins impressing, Wolford will look to do the same pic.twitter.com/vJdT2j9JzU— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) August 18, 2022
Backups and the pecking order of the offensive line still need to be determined. Tremayne Anchrum seems locked in, but the last three(?) spots aren’t certain yet. Chandler Brewer has shown well in preseason. Alaric Jackson made the squad last year, but looks a little out of shape and has had some shaky moments. Jeremiah Kolone has found a home at center and played as well as any of the others. Will Bobby Evans continue confound fans and make the team?
Now that Daniel Hardy is out for awhile and Chris Garrett is still not practicing, OLB#4 is wide open for Benton Whitley and Keir Thomas.
Jake Gervase has played very well and shown in the past that he is solid in all phases of special teams. Jake Hummel is a hustler, but as of now, is limited to special teams. ILB#4 might not see many snaps, and the injury status of Travin Howard remains to be played out.
The Rams have three rookies in the secondary who look to the grit to play as a pro, Decobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, and Russ Yeast. If LA keeps 10 defensive backs, one of these guys will be left out.
It would be my guess that the Rams braintrust decides the final 53 after these joint workouts, which magnifies their importance. McVay has sat out 40 players in each of the preseason games and that doesn’t include the guys who are nicked up, these guys are in. This week, the stage lights are bright and the heat is intense. Who will earn a role?