If the Los Angeles Rams “run it back” in 2022, they will do so with almost 10 new starters on offense and defense. That includes the players who will officially start and then grows a little bit more when factoring in those who are expected to get significant playing time against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday.
The Rams are only four days away from the start of the NFL season. When that happens, we will see the debuts of starters who were held out for the entire preseason. How will they look when the game kicks off for real?
RB Cam Akers
Week 1, 2021: Darrell Henderson
Akers was expected to be the Week 1 starter last year until a torn Achilles. Henderson had 16 carries for 70 yards in last year’s win over the Chicago Bears to open the season.
WR Allen Robinson
Week 1, 2021: Robert Woods
Woods was targeted four times, catching three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown. Would that be an acceptable debut for Robinson against the Bills? Based on how he’s played in training camp, I think expectations are high that he’ll at least be a favorite target of Matthew Stafford’s coming out of the gate.
WR Tutu Atwell
Week 1, 2021: Van Jefferson
It’s not entirely clear if Atwell will be getting a lot of snaps or targets immediately, but Sean McVay has made it known that Tutu is going to be a part of the plan. He’s also said the same of Ben Skowronek and has even praised Brandon Powell in that regard. Jefferson will still be recovering from injury this week but should be back soon since he’s not on any injury list.
LT Joe Noteboom
Week 1, 2021: Andrew Whitworth
Finally, Noteboom’s first chance to start a season at left tackle. Noteboom has started a couple years at left guard, now he needs to stay healthy and keep Von Miller and company off of Stafford.
RG Coleman Shelton
Week 1, 2021: Austin Corbett
Noteboom has at least started more than a half season’s worth of games. Shelton is a much bigger unknown but I don’t think many Rams fans or Rams coaches are worried about him plugging that hole on the right side.
CB Troy Hill
Week 1, 2021: Darious Williams
Once teammates who would share the field and rotate with each other’s positions, Hill now replaces Williams following a trade with the Browns.
ILB Bobby Wagner
Week 1, 2021: Kenny Young
ILB Ernest Jones
Week 1, 2021: Troy Reeder
Really as the fourth linebacker, Reeder did not play that many snaps against the Bears last season. But in any case, Wagner and Jones are huge upgrades over their predecessors, perhaps the biggest upgrades on this list. Young played in 100% of the snaps and made 10 tackles. He is currently a free agent. Reeder is playing for Brandon Staley on the Chargers.
Justin Hollins actually was a starter last Week 1 and he had two sacks against Chicago. David Long, Jr was also a starter, recording an interception last Week 1.
NT Greg Gaines
Week 1, 2021: Sebastian Joseph-Day
SJD is also with the Chargers now. Gaines gets upgraded from a reserve in 2021 to a Week 1 starter but he did play in 25 snaps in the opener last year so it’s not that much of a change. In fact, he could get the same amount of playing time—but I would expect more.