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Rams-Chargers: 5 keys to the first preseason game

5 keys to the Rams’ first preseason game against the Chargers

NFL: AUG 13 Preseason - Rams at Chargers Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams will play their first preseason game of the season on Saturday against the Los Angeles Chargers. While the preseason is less about winning and losing, there will still be plenty of things that fans and the coaches will be looking for throughout the game. The Rams have a lot that they need to figure out before Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks arrives. Here are five keys to Saturday’s first preseason game against the Chargers.

1. Figure out the offensive line

As Kenneth Arthur wrote earlier this week, the Rams must figure out the offensive line. They can’t go into Week 3 of the preseason and not know who the starting offensive line is going in be in Week 1. Competition at left tackle and center are fine. Still being unsure of who the starting left tackle is going to be heading into the regular season is not.

Most of the Rams starting offensive line should play against the Chargers. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both Alaric Jackson and Joe Noteboom get snaps at left tackle. The same can be said about the center position with Coleman Shelton and Brian Allen. By the end of the game, the Rams need to have an idea on who the leader of this competition is and who the starter will be going forward.

2. Get Young Edge Rushers Experience

This might be the most important thing for the entirety of the preseason. The Rams need to be able to generate a pass rush off of the edge and much of that will be up to their young edge rushers. This will be the first time that players like Byron Young and Nick Hampton will really be able to go full speed.

It’s going to be crucial for Young, Hampton, Daniel Hardy, and even Michael Hoecht to be ready to go in Week 1. For Young and Hampton, these will be their first NFL game snaps and they’ll need to get up to speed quickly. The more snaps for players like Young and Hampton get during the preseason, the better.

3. Special Teams to find its identity

It’s no secret that the Rams have a young special teams group led by Tanner Brown, Ethan Evans, and Alex Ward. All three players are rookies and these will be their first NFL snaps. How will these players face adversity together? How do these players support each other after a missed field goal, botched hold, or blocked punt?

The Rams will be under pressure to get this right, but it will also be important not to overreact and allow this trio to grow and face adversity together. The preseason will be crucial for this group before we head into the regular season.

4. Stetson Bennett to look comfortable in the offense

It’s uncertain whether or not the Rams will keep three quarterbacks on the final roster. If they do end up just keeping two, it will likely be Bennett as the team just drafted him in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. In that case, it will be important for Bennett to look comfortable in the offense as he would be the backup quarterback to Matthew Stafford and the only option if something were to happen.

The offense will likely remain pretty vanilla, but there will still be takeaways following the game. It will be important to watch how Bennett does under pressure and see how his poise looks in the pocket. Does he trust his receivers and how much is he able to create with his legs? Bennett may be a fourth round quarterback, but given his success at Georgia, there will be plenty who are watching to see how his first snaps go at the next level.

5. Stay Healthy

As per usual at this time of the year, the Rams need to be able to come out of this game against the Chargers unscathed. There will likely be bumps and bruises, but the Rams need to be able to avoid the lingering injuries that last a few weeks and any serious injury. With how thin the roster is, they can’t afford another Logan Bruss situation.

Players like Matthew Stafford, Tyler Higbee, and Aaron Donald won’t play which means the “important” players will be protected. However, there will be plenty of other starters who will likely get snaps that the Rams also can’t afford to lose.