The Los Angeles Rams will take on the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2 of the preseason. During their preseason debut, the Rams had an up-and-down performance as they lost, 34-17, to the Los Angeles Chargers. The preseason more about process than it is about results. That’s what makes it so important to see improvement week-to-week as the regular season approaches. Here are five keys to the game in Week 2 against the Raiders.
1. Young Edge Rushers Must Show Improvement
Week 1 of the preseason wasn’t a great performance from the Rams young edge rushers. Byron Young almost had a sack that was called back due to a facemask penalty. However, outside of that, there wasn’t a lot to hang their hat on during the game. The Rams edge rushers consistently lost contain on the edge which led to big runs and failed to generate a lot of pressure on the quarterback.
This could end up being a problem heading into the regular season. Aaron Donald should help, but we still need to see improvement. The preseason is about growth and improving from week to week. After a disappointing Week 1, it will be important to see that this group learned from their mistakes and improved.
2. Improvement on the Offensive Line
The offensive line wasn't bad against the Chargers, but there were some shaky moments. Logan Bruss switched positions and started the game at right tackle for the first time since his college days at Wisconsin. The Raiders defensive line is very good and should provide a good challenge for the Rams. From an expectations standpoint, it will be key to at least see some improvement.
Last week against the Chargers, the Rams played three of their starting five offensive linemen with Alaric Jackson, Steve Avila, and Tremayne Anchrum. It will be interesting to see how long those players are on the field to start the game and how they perform.
3. Continued Growth From Stetson Bennett
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Stetson Bennett made the start on Saturday night. Not only has he earned it with his performance against the Chargers, but this would be the logical move if the Rams are having a competition for the backup quarterback spot. Brett Rypien struggled to move the ball starting last week. That immediately changed once Bennett took the field.
There are a lot of question marks on whether or not the Rams will keep two or three quarterbacks on the roster. If Bennett can earn the backup quarterback role, it seems more like that they would just keep two. Bennett was sharp in Week 1 and will need to show consistency if he starts against the Raiders.
4. Better Push on the Defensive Line
Stopping the run starts with edge contain as mentioned above. However, with the Rams smaller defensive linemen, they got pushed around quite a bit in Week 1 against the Chargers as well. We’ll see pretty quickly if that was a matchup issue or if it’s going to be a problem throughout the season.
The Rams rotated their defensive linemen a lot last week and that will likely be the case on Saturday as well. They will also be without Donald. Still, it will be important to see gradual improvement from this group. The Rams have a young defense, but that’s also why it’s so crucial to see if they learn from their mistakes.
5. Stay Healthy
The most important thing in the preseason is for players to stay healthy. The Rams avoided any injuries in Week 1 against the Chargers. With the season quickly approaching, they’ll need to remain fairly healthy again when they take on the Raiders.
Last week, the Rams found a good balance of getting some of their starters some playing time, but not risking injury. The starters played approximately two series’ before mostly backups entered the game. It will be interesting to see if the Rams take a similar approach in Week 2.