Photo Credit: Rams Facebook Page
The Rams started off their preseason with a bang. They played a closely contended first preseason game losing to New Orleans Saints 26-24. Let me preface these observations by saying I don’t think that the players I mention will be cut. They just need to step it up to be ready to play in the NFL. I also realize that it was just the first game of the preseason. Now that we got that out of the way lets talk about last night’s game.
Lets start out with the positive players that stood out:
QB Shaun Hill: He looked sensational out there last night. Throwing very accurate passes and not afraid to spread the ball around to his teammates. His long pass to Jared Cook was right on the money. He is showing great signs as being a good reliable backup if the injury bug bites Sam Bradford again. He finished 5 of 7 throwing for 84 yards and two touchdowns. He looked great thus far.
CB E.J. Gaines: I thought Gaines looked great tonight especially on one-on-one coverage. He played from the first snap of the game and was immediately pushed into the NFL. He closed down on runners, and he did a good job tackling. When he did get beat by his man, he would always come back to the wide receiver and make a play. He finished the game with 6 tackles and 4 being solo.
WR Emery Blake: While Blake played with the third string QB Austin Davis against what seemed to be the third string defense of the Saints. He made great catches allowing Davis and the Rams to move down the field and put them in a chance to win the game. He finished the game with 3 catches for 41 yards with a long one of 29 yards. He ran some great routes, but I don’t know if he breakthrough onto this roster chuck full of wide receivers. He did the catch the attention of some coaches and myself.
Also, a quick shoutout to DL Michael Sam, who was credited with a QB hit and a tackle. He looked extremely quick off the ball.
Now lets shift our attention to players that need to step up:
DT Aaron Donald: While I do realize that Donald was playing in just his first NFL game, it just looked like he was lost out there. He was unable to get on the stat sheet with any tackles or influence on the game. With being picked at number 13 in this year’s draft, Donald has huge expectations to fill as being a run stuffer and getting to the QB. I think that he is and will get better every day at practice, and it was just his first game. He was probably just shaking out the nerves. He will be huge part of the Rams defensive line rotation.
Rams Run Defense/Front 7: The Rams run defense was down right atrocious last night. They allowed RB Mark Ingram to carry the ball 8 times for a total of 83 yards. That was against some first string defensive players. I know that this will be improved with the help of DL Michael Brockers and LB James Laurinaitis, who did not play in the game. The coaches should make a note of this and work on it during practice this week. This needs to improve by the regular season because the Rams have to play against some great running backs including Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, and Marshawn Lynch to name just a couple.
RB Tre Mason: Mason had a good game statistically with running the ball going for 15 carries for 51 yards. The problem was that he was going against the Saints second-string defense. It looked like Mason did a lot of dancing behind the line scrimmage and did a lot of hesitations instead of just attacking the hole with gusto. He also needs to improve his pass blocking. A couple of plays lead to a couple of sacks where Mason was supposed to pick up him man. This performance isn’t going to cut it to win the starting job over last year’s starter Zac Stacy.
Overall, the Rams offense and defense looked pretty good putting on a good show in front of decently loud dome. Their effort showed as the Rams had a chance to win the game on the boot of Greg Zuerlein; however, he couldn’t convert and the Rams had to settle for a loss.