The Los Angeles Rams made Super Bowl history last year, so they definitely don’t have a lot to prove in the preseason.
The Los Angeles Chargers, the Rams’ cross-town rivals and potential Super Bowl contenders in 2023, will be their first opponent in their exhibition games.
Keep in mind that the Chargers have missed the playoffs the last few years due to heartbreaking late-season defeats. They have also squandered leads that have plagued the team for a very long time.
On the other hand, the Los Angeles Rams won two playoff games at home before hosting and winning the Super Bowl at home. They did this by prevailing in the difficult and challenging NFC West.
During the 2022 offseason, however, due to salary restrictions, the Rams had to let go of numerous important players. This included Von Miller, Robert Woods, and Odell Beckham Jr. The squad also lost Andrew Whitworth, a left tackle veteran, to retirement.
Although the Rams have some preparation to do for the season, they don’t appear to be very concerned. They’ll open their preseason against a promising Chargers squad, but Rams head coach Sean McVay will likely focus on looking at his reserves than actually getting a W. Take note that McVay is 1-3 in the preseason openers and 6-9 overall in preseason games.
Rams Preseason Week 1 Predictions
4. Matthew Stafford won’t play a single snap
Two prominent Rams players, linebacker Leonard Floyd and star QB Matthew Stafford, are in doubt. Those are by far the most important concerns regarding player availability going into this game. Fans should not expect both to see action because the Rams are not willing to take any chances.
That’s especially true for Stafford, who was so integral to the Rams’ Super Bowl title run in 2021. Right now, however, Stafford’s elbow injury is causing more and more concern as time goes on.
Matthew Stafford and the Rams remain cautious as they attempt to limit his throwing time during training camp due to an ongoing elbow issue.
Sean McVay stressed the need to manage Stafford due to the long season.
"It’s a tricky deal."
H/T @JourdanRodrigue pic.twitter.com/uPc8uBczCT
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) August 5, 2022
It’s one thing to have some offseason fatigue, particularly following a Super Bowl run. It’s quite another, though, when a club designs its practice schedule around the abilities and limitations of its starting quarterback.
Stafford was a highly sought-after free agent signing for the Los Angeles Rams last offseason because of his capacity to expand the playbook and be a multi-faceted threat. The Rams just cannot afford to risk aggravating his injury by playing him in the preseason opener.
3. John Wolford and Bryce Perkins exposed
Although the Rams want to repeat as Super Bowl winners this year, star quarterback Matthew Stafford is anticipated to miss some time with his elbow injury.
Of course, head coach Sean McVay is preparing for this by exposing backups John Wolford and Bryce Perkins. In full-squad drills, Wolford is taking first-team snaps while Perkins is second as the Rams get ready for their preseason games. Both should see action in their preseason opener against the Chargers.
After a record-breaking career at Wake Forest and time in the defunct Alliance of American Football, Wolford signed with the Rams in 2019. Since the conclusion of the 2020 season, the 6’1 Wolford has not played much, though. Wolford is used to being with the scouting squad, but he is now in charge of the starting offense.
Perkins, meanwhile, completed his undergraduate studies at Virginia before signing a free agency contract with the Rams in 2020. He completed 56 of 91 throws for 494 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions during the 2021 preseason. Additionally, he ran for 129 yards. Because of his excellent performance, Perkins was added to the 53-man roster, keeping other clubs from signing him. He was on the practice squad for most of last season.
2. Darrell Henderson over Cam Akers
Cam Akers is unquestionably RB1 for the Los Angeles Rams, but recall that he missed most of last season. That means McVay will likely not risk exposing him too much in the preseason. The Rams will prioritize having Akers ready and healthy to lead their rushing game as the season begins against the Buffalo Bills in a few weeks’ time.
As such, much of the rushing workload for their preseason opener will likely be carried by Darrell Henderson Jr. The 5’8 running back is entering his fourth season and should be a capable backup to Akers. Last year, he averaged 4.6 yards per carry on 149 attempts on top of 5 TDs.
He’s not a world-beating RB, but he should suffice in their preseason opener as the Rams preserve Akers for the regular season.
1. Tutu Atwell should shine
With all the stars out, one guy to watch will be second-year receiver Tutu Atwell. The 2021 second-round pick has made a lot of noise in training camp. This after the Rams confined him to special teams duties in his rookie year.
Sean McVay mentioned a handful of players he’s excited to see in the preseason, Tutu Atwell and Daniel Hardy among them. https://t.co/JwkYPHqSLi
— Rams Wire (@TheRamsWire) August 11, 2022
The Rams believe Atwell would improve in Year 2 despite having a lackluster rookie season. In Van Jefferson’s absence, Atwell has emerged as one of the better performers in training camp. With all the pace he can muster, the Louisville alum may be in line for a breakthrough season.
In training camp sessions last week, he demonstrated his mobility by repeatedly scorching the defense deep. In one particular play, Atwell made a strong grab over Troy Hill on a deep jumper in addition to running right by Decobie Durant for a significant gain through the middle. That’s a snapshot of the potential the Rams see in Atwell.
Having said that, the Rams are concerned about Atwell’s durability. Take note that at only 150 pounds, he must avoid those dangerous safeties targeting the middle. Atwell, however, should shine once he gets a clear shot in the preseason opener.