The NFL preseason is usually not a big event people gather around the living room to watch with friends. But the preseason does signify the NFL regular season is right around the corner. Although it is not the biggest attraction and the records mean nothing, for St. Louis Rams fans, this year’s preseason will be worth watching. Below are a few things for Rams fans to look out for as the team head into Cleveland to take on the Browns.
Running back by committee
Head coach Jeff Fisher has named Daryl Richardson the starter for the season, but it does not mean he will be solely relied on to carry the running game. In fact, Fisher named Richardson the starter because he is the back with the most experience.
You can also expect to see running back Isaiah Pead get first team reps. There was also a lot of excitement around Zac Stacy when he got drafted in the fifth round for the Rams, but that chatter has since subsided. This will be his moment to show he can be an effective bruising back in the rotation.
Battle at left guard
This has been the best offensive line the Rams have had to protect quarterback Sam Bradford. Although it is the best, there is still a battle going on at left guard.
After the draft, many observers believed Barrett Jones’s versatility or Rokevious Watkins previous flash of brilliance would have them battling for this starting position. Jones has had a nagging injury and Watkins has since then been released from the team.
The battle all camp has been between Chris Williams and Shelley Smith. They have pretty much gotten an even share of first team reps all of camp. This will be their opportunity to win the position.
The Rams were in desperate need at the safety position, even speculating that second year corner back Trumaine Johnson might slip into the safety position for the team. When the draft came around, it was projected to be a class filled with starting caliber safeties. The Rams waited until the third round to get their guy and selected the hard-hitting TJ McDonald out of USC.
McDonald has the right skill set to play the position, but some evaluators believed his weakness was going to be in coverage. Word got around to McDonald about his deficiency and has spent all offseason improving it.
Reporters have said the young safety is not showing any signs of weakness in coverage and is performing better then expected. It is one thing to cover a wide receiver in shorts and a tee; it’s another to do it in full pads. TJ, the lights are on you. How will he perform?
If Rams fans sit down to watch the game, all eyes will be on Tavon Austin and where he lines up on the field. Granted, this is only the first preseason game and starters are looking to play for roughly two series, so don’t expect the Rams to do much with Austin.
He is a small wide receiver only listed at 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds. It will be interesting to see how his speed will do against the opposing defenses. Will he be able to get off the line and get to the middle of the field?
Austin does offer a lot of versatility, but don’t expect to see him line up as a running back as Richardson, Pead, and Stacy will be looking to make the most at their given position.
Although it is only the preseason and teams don’t show much of their hand in the first game, I would not be surprised to see coach Fisher call up a big play and catch the Browns off guard. It’ll be exciting to see how the Rams look in their first game, but the real excitement will be their first game on September 8th.