St. Louis Rams vs. Green Bay Packers: Rams Week 2 Game Preview
The bad news? This game will feature more watered down preseason football. The good news? After this game, the preseason will be halfway over and we'll be that much closer to genuine football.
Additionally, this game will provide both teams with an opportunity to evaluate the low-end roster talent against real competition with live ammo.
Please check back during the game for our live blog, which will provide up-to-date comments and analysis throughout the game.
Rams Week 1 Recap
The Rams fell just short in a 26-24 loss the New Orleans Saints in the preseason opener, and the game displayed a mixed bag of positives and negatives.
St. Louis' top four tight ends (Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey, Alex Bayer) all showed up to play on offense. The foursome combined for nine catches, a touchdown and 131 yards (or, nearly 50 percent of the team's 271 aerial yards).
However, it wasn't all positive with the passing attack. Outside of Stedman Bailey's 24-yard touchdown grab, none of the top Rams receivers made any real impact. This isn't the performance we were hoping to see out of the wideouts, especially for a team that has lacked anything resembling wide receiver star power for at least six years.
The run game showed nothing but promise. All the backs were moving the chains, and the top four backs reached 143 yards on 30 carries (4.8 yards per carry).
On defense, "Sack City" was completely shut out. Of course, Robert Quinn barely touched field and hardly made any effort, but the lack of sacks is still worth noting for a team that supposedly possesses tremendous depth across the defensive line.
Defensive end Chris Long did record an interception that set up a score, so the unit was not totally incapable of making plays.
Overall, the defense was not as fierce as we'd normally expect, but great defense requires great effort, and great effort is nowhere to be found when it comes to first-stringers in the preseason.
News and Notes
Sam Bradford was absent for the team's preseason opener, but Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweeted that the starting quarterback will indeed be under center in Week 2 of the preseason. He's expected to play at least a quarter of football.
If you think Bradford's presence is a positive, think again, because Thomas also reported that Rams left tackle Jake Long won't be seeing the field until Week 3 of the preseason.
Sure, it's nice that Bradford will finally be under center against real competition for the first time since his injury last October, but without his trusted blind-side protection, it's going to be a nail-biter for nervous fans.
On the bright side, St. Louis' troubled secondary will get a little help with the return of Trumaine Johnson and Brandon McGee. Both corners were held out of the preseason opener.
The following injury report can be found at ESPN, and this report will be edited once a more thorough list is available.
Also, while these players are listed as "probable," don't get too excited. The preseason is all about protecting the starters and getting the youngsters some reps. The status is meaningless.
St. Louis Rams Injury Report
LB James Laurinaitis, Ankle (Probable)
DT Michael Brockers, Ankle (Probable)
CB Janoris Jenkins, Hamstring (Probable)
Factors and Matchups to Watch
Aaron Rodgers vs. Rams Secondary
If you were hoping to see the St. Louis secondary make plays and gain some confidence against Matt Flynn, it looks like you'll have to wait until the second quarter.
The almighty Aaron Rodgers, who sat out of Green Bay's preseason opener, will make his debut against the Rams this Saturday, according to ESPN's Rob Demovsky.
Facing Rodgers is always a daunting task during the regular season, but this is actually great news for the Rams. This allows St. Louis' young secondary to get some reps against one of the NFL's best with no real consequences.
One quarter against Rodgers will make the Week 1 matchup against rookie Teddy Bridgewater seem like child's play.
Green Bay Running Backs vs. St. Louis Linebackers
Green Bay's Rajion Neal and James Starks were a handful for the Tennessee Titans last week. The two backs combined for 11 carries, 88 yards and two scores (8.0 yards per carry).
With veteran James Laurinaitis out of action, it's time for one of the other St. Louis backers to step up and win a starting job.
Ray Ray Armstrong and Jo-Lonn Dunbar both had less than spectacular games last week. Whichever player can rise to the challenge against Green Bay could very well win the starting gig.
Sam Bradford vs. Green Bay's Pass Rush
With Long out of the game at left tackle, it will be interesting to see how Jeff Fisher and the Rams compensate for the sake of protecting Bradford.
If the heat gets unbearable, you can count on the Rams coaching staff pulling Bradford early. In the meantime, expect plenty of handoffs, checkdowns and quick passes in order to avoid hits.
If Bradford makes it out in one piece, Rams Nation will release a collective sigh of relief.
While predicting the outcome of a preseason game is ridiculous, much like predicting the score of a WNBA game (there's still a WNBA, right?), I'll go ahead and take a shot.
The Rams are a run-first team that's more concerned with protecting Bradford than airing it out. Compare that with a Packers offense that relies heavily on the pass and there's no question which team will make more of an effort to move the ball downfield.
If this game comes down to an offense duel, there's little doubt that Green Bay will pull far ahead in the race. However, the Rams have a defensea very good defense. If "Sack City" shows up in the first quarter to say hello to Rodgers, you can count on Green Bay immediately pulling their prized quarterback out of the game, which would even the playing field.
Overall, the Rams are going to keep it safe and conservative while focusing on the run, so don't expect a St. Louis victory on Saturday.
Final Score: Green Bay Packers 33, St. Louis Rams 24