Week 1: Five Rams Players To Watch Against The Cowboys
It’s hard to believe but the NFL Season is here! The Rams open up SoFi on Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys and while the focus is on all the stars i.e. Jared Goff, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and DeMarcus Lawrence, a victory for the Rams could come from the lesser-known players. There are five players in particular that can swing the game.
Troy Hill – CB
Jalen Ramsey is the superstar on the Rams’ secondary and this week was paid as such, but despite being one of the best corners in the league he can’t cover everybody at once. He is likely to spend his time on Cooper and that means someone has to cover Michael Gallup. That someone is Troy Hill.
Hill had a breakout year last season filling in for Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters following the moves that allowed for Ramsey to be traded. He had his struggles in prior seasons and was maligned by fans. While Ramsey acclimated to his new surroundings, Hill was able to thrive.
Given that Brandon Staley‘s new defense is heavy on the secondary, Hill will have even more responsibility. Sunday will demonstrate if Hill’s breakout was a fluke or if the Rams once again struck oil in the secondary. Of the five players, he is going to have the biggest impact given he has to defend one of Dallas’s star-studded receivers.
Terrell Burgess – SS
One of the five players that can swing the game is 4th round pick, Terrell Burgess. The rookie safety has turned heads throughout camp filling in for an injured Taylor Rapp. Rapp is still the starter but given Staley’s defensive back-heavy defense he is likely to see a lot of time in order to help relieve the Rams’ linebackers.
Burgess is a strong run defender which is a big deal considering how much Ezekiel Elliott ran over the Rams last year. Burgess will also be helping defend against CeeDee Lamb or Gallup which is no easy task.
The rookie has a chance to become a breakout player like Rapp did a year ago. If Burgess is what he was in camp he will be replacing John Johnson next year considering there’s no way the Rams can keep him following the Ramsey and Kupp extensions.
Sebastian Joseph-Day – DT
The cameras will of course be focused on defensive tackle and man with a summer home on Skull Island, Aaron Donald but Sebastian Joseph-Day can have a major impact as well. Donald will once again be the subject of double and triple teams (as he should be) which means SJD and Michael Brockers will get juicy one-on-one matchups that could allow them to slow down Dak and Zeke. SJD is poised for a big year while A’Shawn Robinson recovers from illness and Sunday could be the start of big things for the young defensive lineman
Samson Ebukam – LB
The Rams are going with an all-new linebacking crew with Micah Kiser being the lone incumbent. Samson Ebukam has been on the Rams for a few years now but could never crack the starting rotation until now.
Staley is scheming his defense to take as much pressure off the linebackers as possible but at some point, they obviously have to do something. Ebukam is playing outside which gives him ample opportunity to rush the passer which is an aspect of the defense the Rams sorely need.
Austin Corbett – OG
The offensive line was a tattered mess last year prompting the Rams to trade for Austin Corbett from Cleveland. Corbett never got acclimated after arriving at the trade deadline but with a full camp, he has become a Week 1 starter.
The Cowboys come in with an awesome defensive line so Corbett will be tested early and often. If the blocking is there, the Rams offense has the chance to be near its 2018 heights and that means Corbett can’t be another interior lineman who routinely gets beat. He’ll generate the least amount of coverage if he succeeds but given he has the least amount of experience in this offense, he could be in for a long night. Fortunately, if he can’t be one of the five players to swing the game they have enough depth to find someone who will.
Football is famously a game of inches but it is also about the players at the margins or at least the ones that aren’t in the spotlight. These five Rams players to watch in Week 1 could very well prove that axiom by the end of the night for better or worse.