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Rams stock up, stock down following first game of the 2023 preseason

Which player’s stock was affected the most after the first preseason game?

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NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams fell, 34-17, to the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night in Week 1 of the preseason. However, when it comes to the preseason, it’s less about the final score and the result and more about how the players perform on the field and the process.

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 Chargers

Stock Down: Logan Bruss

Any conversation about stock up, stock down has to start with Logan Bruss. The development of Bruss has seemingly been mishandled by the Rams. They started him at guard and trained him there for the better part of two years. Just a few weeks ago, they moved him to right tackle where he played at Wisconsin. It’s difficult for a player to gain traction at one spot if they’re constantly moving around.

Quoted by Jourdan Rodrigue at The Athletic, Bruss said,

“The biggest thing I wanted to get out of this game was getting confidence, feeling good again. There’s confidence in playing fast, full-speed, and just to come out of this game feeling healthy — last time I was on an NFL field, things didn’t turn out so well. Just getting that mental confidence and getting past that mental block of, ‘I’m not hurt anymore, I’m healthy (and) feeling good,’ that was the biggest thing for me. … Moving back out to tackle, I had not done that in a game in the NFL. Made some mistakes in the pass pro (protection). All things that are easily correctible. I learned some lessons, I know how I can be better.”

Bruss was the Rams’ worst offensive lineman in pass protection, giving up four pressures and a sack. However, his work in the run game was pretty good. He needs to start building some consistently, but there were some rough moments on Saturday.

Stock Up: Tre Tomlinson and Tanner Ingle

It looks like the Rams may have gotten a steal out of sixth-round pick Tre Tomlinson. He will certainly have a role on defense sooner rather than later. He started the game with a pass breakup on first-round pick and former teammate Quentin Johnston. Tomlinson then broke up another pass deep down the right sideline. In 21 coverage snaps, Tomlinson was targeted five times. He only gave up one reception for eight yards. It’s hard not to be excited about Tomlinson going forward after his performance.

Tanner Ingle meanwhile was an undrafted free agent and is certainly making his case for the roster. Ingle was the team’s highest-graded defender on Saturday according to Pro Football Focus. He had a sack and was also credited with two defensive stops. He’ll be someone to keep an eye on over the next two games.

Stock Down: Young Edge Rushers

There was a serious case to be made that the Rams should try to go out and sign a veteran edge rusher. However, with the cap situation, it seems unlikely that it is a move that the Rams would make at this point. The best thing to do is to get their young guys reps. Head coach Sean McVay said during his Sunday press conference,

“Well I think you want to continue to evaluate...There was a lot of things that came out of last night that we can really do a good job of communicating and emphasizing some of the areas of improvement. And it’s not exclusive to one guy, but it’s kind of a collaborative effort. And there’s a lot of guys that are continuing to learn on the fly and I’m not going to make that a crutch or an excuse, but I do think that the evaluation process is something that we’ll continue to utilize in those experiences with the practices and the preseason games.

Byron Young and Daniel Hardy were two of the Rams’ six worst graded defenders according to Pro Football Focus. Keir Thomas and Zach VanValkenburg each gave up contain on the edge on touchdowns. Nick Hamton also got caught too far upfield. These are learning experiences, but it just shows how bumpy it could be this year to start the season.

Stock Up:

Whether it’s the media, the coaching staff, or other players, they have all talked up Puka Nacua this offseason. Starting in OTAs, Nacua became a household name to watch and he continued that throughout training camp as Cooper Kupp was forced to sit out with injury.

Nacua showed up in the preseason game against the Chargers. He finished with three catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. It was his catch on a slant that sparked the offense’s first touchdown drive — a touchdown that he caught. The Rams will likely try to find ways that they can get Nacua on the field in the regular season.

Stock Down: Run Defense

Sometimes one big run can inflate a team’s yards allowed per carry average. However, the Rams didn’t just give up one big run, they gave up multiple. It’s also worth noting that a 70 yard run got taken away because of a holding penalty.

The Rams allowed A’Shawn Robinson and Greg Gaines to walk in free agency for a combined $8.5M. It would have been possible to bring one of those players back. This is the path that the Rams chose. Aaron Donald didn’t play and Ernest Jones will help in the run game. However, it was not a good start for the young defensive line.