Rams rookie QB Stetson Bennett played most of this game and got a lot of run, but the results looked far different than what we saw from him a week ago. There were some other individuals that stood out in both positive and negative ways for their involvement, so let’s dive right in:
Davis Allen, TE
Allen missed training camp and didn’t start practicing until this week when the Rams hosted the Raiders for joint practices. The rookie TE was targeted eight times Saturday evening and hauled every single one for 53 yards. It’s clear the team was intentional about getting him looks, and he immediately slotted in as the primary reserve tight end behind Tyler Higbee and Brycen Hopkins who have not played this preseason.
His athletic grab from Bennett was one of the better individual offensive plays on the night.
Jake Hummel, LB
Sean McVay was on the mic with the broadcast team while Hummel went vertical to snap an interception of Brian Hoyer and raced into the end zone for a pick-six. Hummel’s drop into coverage on a play action look was impressive and showed notable athleticism.
With Ernest Jones in street clothes, Hummel and Christian Rozeboom have filled in as the starting off-ball linebackers and been active through two games.
Ronnie Rivers, RB
For the second week in a row, Rivers churned out yards on the ground that didn’t seem available at first look—including multiple runs where he evaded defenders in the backfield to make it back to the line of scrimmage or better. There seems to be a clear separation between Cam Akers, Kyren Williams, and Rivers before you get to Royce Freeman and Zach Evans. Rivers finished with nine carries for 42 yards while other running backs didn’t find much success in this game.
Evans had eight carries versus Freeman’s two, and the team can likely only keep one of those backs.
Tre Tomlinson, CB
The rookie corner had a tough matchup in joint practices this week in star WR Davante Adams. Last week he matched up against his former college teammate and first-round pick Quentin Johnston.
It doesn’t seem to matter what gets thrown at Tomlinson—he just continues to impress even he’s at a significant size advantage. Tomlinson should now be the favorite to start at outside corner Week 1 opposite Ahkello Witherspoon, especially with Derion Kendrick still working his way back from a soft tissue injury.
John Johnson, DB
It’s not yet clear whether Johnson will join the Rams’ starting lineup after his recent reunion with the team. You can read his involvement Saturday night as an extended warm up period after signing with a team late into training camp, or that he’s potentially fighting for a starting job or roster spot.
Either way, Johnson looked active on the field in both the run and pass game. He finished with four tackles.
Ethan Evans, P
Evans seems to have a potential issue outkicking punt coverages which has resulted in some longer returns over the last couple of weeks. It’s good the team is working through that in the preseason while they still have time to make corrections before the games count.
Still, you have to be impressed by Evans leg strength after he averaged over 55 yards per kick with a long of 65. There were some other technical items that could be cleaned up too, such as a touchback. To Evans’ credit, he also pinned two punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
A good look at where Carter catches the ball compared to where Rams coverage unit is. Closest player is 14 yards away. On long return last week, closest coverage player was 15 yards away.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) August 20, 2023
Two things true: Coverage unit needs to be better and Evans needs to help them. pic.twitter.com/4U0zQXvgFW
Tanner Brown, K
While the San Francisco 49ers continue to watch Jake Moody struggle in the preseason, Tanner Brown bounced back after last week’s game where the results were mixed. It remains to be seen whether LA will bring in a roster as cut downs take place, but Brown is now on more solid ground than he was a week ago.
Byron Young, OLB
A notable healthy scratch in this game was rookie edge rusher Bryon Young, who reportedly impressed during joint practices with the Raiders. The Rams tested Young last week by giving him around 20 consecutive snaps at OLB, and this week he received some much-deserved rest.
I’d also be surprised if Byron Young not playing tonight (in itself a small surprise) is due to anything other than how much he impressed the coaching staff this week/rest…will follow up with McVay postgame, though, in case it’s anything else.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 20, 2023
Keir Thomas, OLB; Zach VanValkenburg, OLB
Two other edge rushers that impressed were Keir Thomas, who’s had sacks in both preseason games so far, and rookie Zach VanValkenburg (five tackles, TFL).
It’s worth mentioning that while Thomas and VanValkenburg flashed, Daniel Hardy had a fairly quiet night against Las Vegas.
Stetson Bennett, QB
Bennett’s performance against the Raiders was not as impressive as the film he put together last week against the Chargers, but there were still some positives to take away from this outing.
Reports from practices suggest that Bennett is still learning the ropes of the Rams offense and is adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. There don’t seem to be major questions in his skillset or the ability to make plays—quite the opposite as his athleticism often stands out—he just needs to grow more polished and refined as he gains experience.
It may be a tad controversial to put Bennett on the “losers” list after he played most of the game and rushed for a touchdown, but Raiders rookie QB Aiden O’Connell just looked more impressive in this game. Bennett finished 15/24 (62%) for 142 yards and an interception to go along with his rushing TD. Brett Rypien had only four passing attempts in relief.
Stetson Bennett with 6 on the ground! pic.twitter.com/Oj24eLQY95— Rams Tapes (@RamsTapes) August 20, 2023
Logan Bruss, OT
It’s a bit unfair to put Bruss on this list after he left early with an ankle injury, but that was suffered when he was pushed more than five yards backwards on a bull rush into Bennett’s lap. Bennett took a big hit on the play, and the Rams are fortunate that the QB was unfazed.
Simply put, Bruss has not earned a spot on this year’s 53-man roster. Rookie Warren McClendon has been better. If the Rams keep him it’s only because of his draft status as a former third round pick.
Timarcus Davis, DB
Davis is trying to make the Rams roster at safety. Against the Raiders he was called for pass interference that helped setup a Las Vegas score and then later allowed a big completion for a touchdown in his coverage.
It has been a rough night for Timarcus Davis. Had the DPI at the end of the half. Gets beat on the deep pass on that drive and I think that might be a touchdown with the UDFA in coverage.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) August 20, 2023
Royce Freeman, RB
Evans has looked like the better runner over the last two games. While Freeman had a rushing touchdown a week ago, it’s fair to wonder whether he has a place on this roster behind Akers, Williams, and Rivers. He seems like the odd man out after Evans, at least at this point.
Lance McCutcheon, WR
McCutcheon has been nearly invisible so far in the preseason after dominating the exhibition games a year ago. The WR depth chart is pretty cramped for Los Angeles at the moment, and it’s looking more and more unlikely by the day that McCutcheon will stick around for the regular season.
While Demarcus Robinson has made aggressive catches in practice, he’s also been quiet in the games—has Tyler Johnson leapfrogged him on the depth chart?