St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans: 7 Rams to Watch
The Rams offense looked pretty smooth for the first game with a new coordinator. The defense also looked sharp, intercepting three passes.
There are seven players that Rams fans should keep an eye on in this game. These are guys who you are in need of big performances to earn a position on the roster or keep their current one.
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Mike Sims-Walker saw very limited action in the first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, and he left the game with a groin injury. Steve Spagnuolo mentioned earlier in the week that he plans to play the starters for a full half so we should see more of Sims-Walker.
Not a lot has been said about Sims-Walker other than the fact that he could be a real difference-maker for the Rams, but he needs to make the team first. A one-year contract doesn't guarantee much for him. Sims-Walker will likely come into this game trying to prove that he can be the difference-maker that the Rams need.
The amount of playing time that he will get isn't clear at this point so he will need to make the most of his opportunities. He should start the game at receiver, but you never know. Look out to see how the chemistry between Sam Bradford and Mike Sims-Walker is in this game.
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St. Louis may have found the next stud tight end in the NFL in Lance Kendricks. It's still very early on in his career to say whether he has star potential, but he looked very good in his first game.
During training camp, Kendricks has been impressing both teammates and reporters, and he was able to carry that momentum into week one of the preseason. Both Sam Bradford and A.J. Feeley looked to Lance Kendricks early and often, and he delivered.
This game against the Tennessee Titans will help determine if the Kendricks' performance was just a one-game wonder. There will be a minor scouting report on him so opposing defenders will know some of his tendencies. If he can reel in another five passes, then this is a sign of good things to come from this youngster.
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Assuming that the Rams keep six receivers for their opening-day 53-man roster, Brandon Gibson will be a player on the bubble this preseason.
It's hard to imagine that the Rams could consider releasing one of their leading receivers over the past two seasons, but they may be forced to do so. Gibson has had his moments when he does nothing but make great plays. Then he has his moments where he drops passes and becomes a non-factor.
Gibson must have a good game tomorrow. The pressure is on him to succeed. With younger guys on the roster now, Gibson's job is no longer safe.
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Robert Quinn played pretty well in his first game in over a year. Although he didn't total a sack, he was able to get good pressure on the Colts quarterbacks.
What we want to see now is Quinn getting the first sack of his NFL career. He will likely get the chance to rush both Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker. All it will take is Jake Locker holding the ball too long, and Robert Quinn will have his first sack in a Rams jersey.
Also, if Quinn gets extended time in this game, I'll be looking to see how he plays the run. He really has been talked about as a designated pass rusher. An improvement in stopping the run could get Robert Quinn on the field more than we expect.
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As of right now, Bryan Kehl is one of the starting outside linebackers. Unless he has a terrible game, it's his job to lose.
Kehl has the advantage over Ben Leber, Zac Diles and Brady Poppinga because none of them know the playbook as well. In this game, Kehl has the opportunity to fly around and make plays. Most people don't expect him to keep the job. So, what does he have to lose?
With Chris Johnson not playing for the Titans, Kehl doesn't have to worry too much about getting beat with speed around the edge, and can focus his attention to the inside game more. I believe that will really help play to his strengths.
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Ben Leber is looking to take Bryan Kehl's starting spot in this game. Most people eventually expect him to take one of the two outside linebacker spots by the end of the preseason.
So far in practice, Leber has been getting looks on both the weak and strong sides. He could end up playing at both of those outside linebacker spots at different points in the game. His versatility will really help benefit him and the St. Louis Rams defense.
Leber should have a very good game this weekend because of the players that the Titans are missing. Whether or not he can take control of the outside linebacker battle is another question.
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Earlier, I thought that Jermale Hines could be a dark horse to win a job at outside linebacker, but it looks like the Rams' intentions are to keep him at safety.
Hines caught a very easy interception against the Colts last week, but all that really matters is that he made the play. On top of making the play, he had a pretty good return. The Rams see something they like in Hines. All of the sudden, it looks like there could be a battle for the safety job opposite of Quintin Mikell.
If Jermale Hines is able to put in another good effort against the Titans, he could challenge Craig Dahl and James Butler for the starting job. Hines doesn't necessarily have to make another interception to have a good game, but keep your eyes open to see how often he is around the football.