The Los Angeles Rams found themselves in the Super Bowl last season, but fell just short of winning the most prestigious title in football.
Now they head into 2019 as one of the favorites to get back to the promised land. However, to do so they still have a long way to go.
A much-overlooked part of that journey is the preseason. Finding those players to fill out the roster could end up being the difference from a Super Bowl Champion and a playoff bust.
With that in mind, the Rams fell flat in their first preseason game of the year, but find themselves facing off with the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday for week two.
Which three Los Angeles Rams’ players should you keep a close eye on?
3. Taylor Rapp
There were a lot of reasons to be excited when the Los Angeles Rams drafted Taylor Rapp in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The safety has all the tools to be a solid contributor right away, and all the potential to be an absolute stud in no time.
However, for now he’s just a rookie that needs to prove himself in the preseason – just like everyone else. He’s done that so far, looking sharp in training camp, as well as his first preseason game.
In that game, Rapp managed two tackles and had a nice pass break up. One game doesn’t make a star though? The safety will need to put together a few solid performances in the preseason to really get some traction.
He can continue the upward trend with a big game on Saturday. Rapp should get a decent amount of playing time and could be the standout performer on defense. If he can manage that, he could see his role continuing to increase.
Taylor Rapp is definitely someone to watch this week.
2. Darrell Henderson
Darrell Henderson might be the most obvious inclusion on this list. The running back was a third-round selection for the Los Angeles Rams this year. A pick that they traded up to get.
Not only are the Rams extremely high on Henderson, but they have a major need for him. Todd Gurley’s health has been a serious concern since the end of last year.
That means Henderson has a role already. He’ll either be the contingency plan should Gurley get hurt, or the backup that gets a solid number of carries to keep the pressure of Gurley.
Either way, it’s important that he produces. The Rams will want to see some progression in the playoffs to help them be certain that Henderson is their guy. Week 1 of the preseason saw him carry the ball six times for just 13 yards.
While you could argue that he never really got a chance to get rolling, that could be the case in the regular season as well. If Gurley is healthy, Henderson’s not exactly going to be getting 20 carries a game. He’ll need to make the most out of a few carries.
We’ll see what he can do on Saturday, and the hope is that he can improve off last week.
1. Blake Bortles
The Los Angeles Rams signed Blake Bortles this offseason to be the backup to Jared Goff. While he had his ups and downs as the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, you should feel pretty good about him as a backup.
That being said, it would be ideal to have more than just a feeling.
Bortles went 3-for-8 for 50 yards in his first preseason game. Like a lot of his time in the NFL, there were good moments and some bad ones.
Now he needs to get used to the offense though. Should anything happen to Goff, it would be great to be able to still feel confident this team could compete. Bortles will have a ridiculous amount of talent around him. None of that will matter if he isn’t comfortable in the offense and can’t make the simple throws though.
You might think a veteran backup QB isn’t much of a “must-watch” player. Just two years ago though everyone had thought Bortles had turned a corner and was ready to be a solid QB in the NFL.
If he can work back to that level the Rams depth at the position just became elite.