The Los Angeles Rams are at the bye week after going 3-6 in their first nine games. The postseason isn’t necessarily out of reach, but it’s also not the primary goal for this Rams team. This season is about finding players for the future and finding out who is going to be a part of the plan going forward. There are a few players who need more playing time over the second half of the season to find out what the can bring to the table and if the Rams may need to add to that position in the offseason. Here are five players who need more playing time after the bye week.
1. TE Davis Allen
It’s no secret that Tyler Higbee has struggled at times throughout the 2023 season. He currently has three drops with a 10.3 percent drop percentage. Higbee has been inconsistent as a blocker as well. The veteran tight end has simply been making mental errors that you expect your veterans to make.
While the regular season is a different beast than the preseason, Allen was impressive back in August. He ranked third among tight ends with nine receptions and was impressive with his contested catches. The Rams need to be trying to utilize Davis Allen more even if it means having some rough moments as a blocker.
With Higbee struggling, it’s going to be important to get the young players at the position reps as they head into 2024. The Rams need to find out if they have future players at the positions here.
2. RB Zach Evans
The same can be said about the running back position. Los Angeles is going to be in position to spend on a running back in free agency or potentially draft one on day two of the NFL Draft. Kyren Williams showed a lot in his reps, but the Rams need to find depth behind him. It’s not a good sign that Evans was a healthy scratch against the Dallas Cowboys and behind guys like Darrell Henderson and Myles Gaskin who had just signed to the roster.
This isn’t to say that Evans needs to be heavily involved, but the Rams need to find out if this is a player that can provide depth at the running back position. Evans was seen as a steal in the sixth-round, but has just six snaps on offense in the first nine weeks.
3. DB Tre Tomlinson
Another player that showed promise in the preseason was Tre Tomlinson. However, he has played just 12 defensive snaps. The Rams are going to need to re-build their secondary this season and it’s going to be important for them to find out who is going to be part of that re-build.
Ahkello Witherspoon has played well at times and Cobie Durant has done better since being moved out of the ‘star’ role. However, beyond that, Derion Kendrick has been inconsistent and Duke Shelley likely isn’t part of the future either. The Rams need to find out if Tomlinson can be more than just a depth piece. This isn’t to say that he needs to start on the outside, but he should be in the secondary rotation going forward.
4. S Quentin Lake
With Lake, it’s less about him getting more playing time as his snap count has increased in each of the last four weeks. This is more about getting Lake more snaps and more playing time in the “star” role. He was in that role over the last two weeks for Durant and played well in the slot.
Much like Tomlinson, the Rams need to figure out if Lake is ready for a larger role in the secondary as the team looks towards 2024. With a lot of cap space, they’ll have the resources to rebuild important parts of the defense. Lake has allowed 0.62 yards per snap from the slot which ranks ninth out of 26 defensive backs with at least 35 slot reps over the last two weeks.
5. WR TuTu Atwell
In a similar sense as Lake, Atwell isn’t about getting more playing time, but more so getting more involved in the offense. Atwell’s looks were always going to change after Cooper Kupp returned to the offense. However, since Kupp returned, Atwell has more than one reception in a game just twice.
We got a look at what Atwell could do in the offense with opportunity. At times, he lived up to his second-round draft status. The Rams and Sean McVay need to do a better job at finding touches for Atwell as he’s arguably the most explosive player in the offense outside of Cooper Kupp. The downfield targets will be limited with the offensive line, but Atwell should be getting more screen and jet sweep looks as well.