St. Louis Rams vs. Cleveland Browns: Report Card Grades for Each Rams Unit
With exhibition football, however, few are concerned with the actual play on the field. That's especially true for the Rams, as it's hard to enjoy the positives from this game after the team suffered numerous injuries throughout the 60 minutes.
Starting quarterback Sam Bradford, guard Rodger Saffold, defensive tackles Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers, as well as cornerback Trumaine Johnson, all suffered injuries in the game.
This has surely demoralized the fans regardless of the team's solid play on the field.
The following slides will ignore the obvious injury concerns from the game and instead focus on football. We'll go through each position and assign a letter grade based on the film from the game.
The night was spoiled by Bradford's injury, but the St. Louis quarterbacks were excellent in this game.
Bradford went 4-of-9 for 77 yards despite not even finishing the first drive of the game. He hit receiver Brian Quick through a very tight window for a key first down on that drive, and his arm appeared to be in midseason form.
Austin Davis took over at the end of the first quarter and led the offense into the final quarter. He put together what is, perhaps, his most breathtaking preseason performance to date.
Davis went 14-of-22 (63.6 percent) for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a 19-yard rush on the ground for a first down.
Garrett Gilbert was expected to win the No. 3 job and boot Davis off the team, but it appears that's not happening anytime soon.
The Rams would be foolish to cut Davis loose following such a great performance.
Running Back: C+
The Rams backs had another underwhelming game, but Benny Cunningham saved the grade with solid first-quarter production.
Cunningham finished with 32 yards on just five carries and seemed to move the ball fairly well. He was the bright spot for the unit, and it's worth noting that he started the game over incumbent Zac Stacy.
Stacy had another underwhelming game. He averaged just one yard a carry last week against Green Bay, and he had just 11 yards on five carries in this game (2.2 yards per carry).
Rookie Trey Watts had a nice play in the final quarter worthy of the highlight reel. He ran behind the line and hit a wall, so he bounced to the opposite side, found some light and scored St. Louis' final touchdown of the game.
However, Watts' nice play at the end was too little too late.
For a run-first team, the Rams have been surprisingly incapable of running the ball this preseason.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: A
The receivers really stepped up and made some important plays for the offense on Saturday. The unit had a great game overall.
Brian Quick had 41 yards on the first drive of the game, including two clutch first-down receptions. He added a six-yard touchdown catch later in the half.
Chris Givens, who has been disturbingly quiet in the preseason, also made some serious noise. Givens had 94 yards on two catches, including a 75-yard score.
Kenny Britt managed to contribute with 68 yards and two scores. Britt has generated considerable training camp hype but has been quiet in the preseason games, so his arrival was a nice change of pace.
As for the tight ends, rookie Alex Bayer added 36 yards on three catches, and Jared Cook added a 13-yard grab with the first-team offense.
Offensive Line: C-
The offensive line did not produce a memorable performance. This unit needs work before Week 1.
Jake Long, the team's left tackle, missed the block on the Cleveland defensive lineman that caused Bradford's injury early in the game.
As a Pro Bowl player, Long has to put in a better effort than what we saw tonight.
The line also struggled to make holes up front, which is supposed to be the forte of this O-line.
Hopefully, the unit is taking it easy for the preseason, because the level of play from this group has not been good enough.
Defensive Line: A
Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer was introduced to the most dominate pass-rusher in the NFL.
Robert Quinn broke through the Cleveland offensive line and recorded his first sack of the preseason, while utilizing just a fraction of his typical regular-season effort.
Rookie defensive tackle Aaron Donald also had a nice game. He forced a fumble and was a constant nightmare for the Cleveland line.
Michael Sam managed to sack Johnny Manziel and flash the pass-rushing skills that made him the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.
The Rams defensive line has generated tons of hype this offseason, and the unit lived up to that hype in this game.
The Rams entered this game very banged up at the linebacker position. James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar were held out, and Alec Ogletree was the only starter from the unit healthy for this contest.
Despite the absence of the starters, the group had a promising showing.
Ogletree picked off Hoyer in the first half, and the run defense was stout throughout the game.
If anything, the Rams are showing they have decent depth at linebacker.
The secondary, like the rest of the defense, turned in a very productive day at the office and earned a positive grade.
Hoyer completed just over 62 percent of his passes against the secondary, which is surprisingly low considering this unit gives up the short passes with little resistance.
Additionally, the longest pass for the Browns was just 17 yards. Cleveland had just three completions that exceeded 10 yards.
We also saw rookie cornerback Marcus Roberson make a nice heads-up play on a fumble recovery.
Overall, even though the only interception went to the linebackers, it was still a nice day for the secondary.
Special Teams: C+
Greg Zuerlein made just one of his four field-goal attempts during the first two preseason games, but he appears to be back on track after going 4-of-4 against the Browns.
Zuerlein didn't sink any bombs. A 30-yard kick was his longest of the night. But he appears to have regained his accuracy, at least to an extent.
However, the special teams grade has to suffer due to the lackluster play of the coverage teams. They allowed kick returns of 68, 45 and 37 yards.
If the Rams can tighten the kickoff coverage, this unit will be fine in 2014.
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