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4 storylines heading into Raiders vs. Rams preseason game

Las Vegas comes to Los Angeles Saturday night in SoFi after teams have joint practice together this week

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

The Los Angeles Rams have completed their first of two practices with the Las Vegas Raiders today, and a few things looked very similar to the Rams first preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers - strong receiver play, Tre Tomlinson holding his own at corner and disappointing offensive line play.

These are some of the storylines and players to keep an eye on heading into the second preseason game at SoFi stadium Saturday night:

Will Tre Tomlinson continue to build on his strong debut?

Tre Tomlinson had a great first preseason game against the LA Chargers, breaking up a few passes and showing a nose for the ball by delivering some big hits. He was very physical covering former TCU teammate, Quentin Johnston, while also disputing the idea that he was too small for the league. Tomlinson’s smaller stature (he’s only 5’9’’) is part of the reason he dropped all the way to the 6th round this year in the NFL draft but that may have worked out in Los Angeles’ favor.

Through the first day of joint practice with the Raiders, Tre Tomlinson has looked very good again. While it sounded like Davante Adams was mostly having his way with the rest of LA’s corners, Tre Tomlinson locked down the veteran receiver in the back of the end zone.

Tomlinson already seems like a vocal leader as a rookie, telling teammates to “set the tone” in a mic’d up video the Rams released earlier today. He has an edge to him that hopefully will rub off on the rest of the LA secondary.

Will the offensive line improve before the regular season?

The Los Angeles offensive line had a tough day at the office last week. The Chargers had four sacks total, and really kept the Rams run game in check until late into the second quarter. It was questionable not to have either, Brian Allen and Coleman Shelton, play in the first preseason game considering one of them will be the starting center.

I also found it a poor choice that Joe Noteboom did not play a single snap. He was out at joint practice today as well with head coach Sean McVay saying that he was “dealing with a little something”. Alaric Jackson looks to have all but locked up the starting left tackle job, and while Noteboom has a chance at starting right guard still, Tremayne Anchrum Jr., the Rams current right guard starter, looked like the most polished lineman against the Chargers.

Logan Bruss also had a tough night at right tackle filling in for Rob Havenstein, however Havenstein didn’t look much better at joint practice with Vegas. It was noted that the Raiders pass rushers we’re consistently beating the Rams offensive line in drills.

It will remain to be seen if the Rams play a few more of these veteran players, given the lackluster practice Wednesday. Rookies Warren McClendon, Mike McAllister and Zach Thomas all had decent games last week, so it will be interesting to see if any of them can crack the line up if the current starters don’t step up soon.

Puka Nacua, Tyler Johnson and the Receiver corps

Los Angeles Rams rookie 5th round pick out of BYU, Puka Nacua, has been turning heads all offseason and finally was able to show what he could do on a bigger stage. In a limited outing against the Los Angeles Chargers, Puka Nacua had 32 yards on three catches and also caught an 11 yard touchdown from fellow rookie, quarterback Stetson Bennett, for LA’s first score of the game. He did not play at all in the second half, cutting down on the risk of injury, and further alluding to the idea that the Rams may see him as a pivotal piece of the offense moving forward.

It wasn’t just the yards and the touchdown though, it was Nacua’s ability to make a catch in crunch time. Nacua’s first ever touchdown came after LA was called twice for holding, pushing them back for a 3rd and goal from the 11 yard line.

As the rush closed in, Bennett threw a well-placed pass into traffic, where Nacua caught it at the goal line while being hit by multiple defenders. It’s also worth noting Nacua’s awareness of the down and distance, making sure he was just inside the end zone before breaking on his route.

Tyler Johnson also had a solid outing, compiling 5 catches for 70 yards and converted some key 3rd down plays to move the chains. Training camp darling, Demarcus Robinson also had one reception for nine yards but did not play very deep into the game.

Tutu Atwell has been torching the Raiders defense in the first of two joint practices. The 3rd year receiver was held out of the first preseason game, so it will remain to be seen if he even plays in the second but if he does, all eyes will be on Atwell to see the growth he has made after two seasons without much to show.

Stetson Bennett and if he has the backup job locked up

Stetson Bennett had arguably the best outing of all the rookie quarterbacks through the first week of the preseason. Bennett looked extremely sharp, even garnering praise from former Colts player and sports personality, Pat McAfee. Bennett seen extended action in the first game, completing 17/29 passes for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions.

The former Georgia Bulldog was decisive in his decisions and show some real zip on the ball. He clearly played better than veteran backup, Brett Rypien, who had a few stagnant drives while going 3/6 for 11 yards. Rypien may get a longer chance to show what he can do in this second game, but with Bennett’s performance in the first, it already looks like the rookie’s job to lose.