Last week the Los Angeles Rams narrowly missed getting a win against the Las Vegas Raiders. This week the Rams take on the Denver Broncos in their final preseason action. Which players figure to be the x-factors to watch against the Broncos? Who will make an impact and get the first win of the year?
I mentioned Bryce Perkins last week and this week is no different. Perkins has been electric in preseason. Sean McVay said that his initial plan against the Raiders was to play both Perkins and Devlin Hodges. However, Perkins was playing so well that McVay decided to give him the game. Couple that with the news that the Rams waived Hodges this week. The Rams are again planning on giving Perkins an entire game. It’s clear that McVay loves Perkins and wants to see more. Perkins really may have forced the Rams to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster with how well he has played.
This week will be a great test for Perkins as the Broncos have been playing well. They blew out both the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos have a talented and deep secondary as well as some serious talent in their pass rushers. If Perkins continues to look as good as he has the previous two weeks, I am confident he will have earned a spot on the 53-man roster. Perkins figures to be one of the more intriguing x-factors to watch against the Broncos.
I mentioned the offensive line last week as well. Against the Raiders, the offensive line looked much better and finally opened up running lanes for Jake Funk and Xavier Jones. Largely they have looked solid in pass protection as well. Coleman Shelton and Tremayne Anchrum have put together a good preseason while Bobby Evans has appeared to struggle. It hasn’t been all bad with Evans, as he has looked pretty good as a run blocker. However, he continues to look inconsistent as a pass protector.
Alaric Jackson and Chandler Brewer looked rough in week one but rebounded in week two. Both still have some ups and downs but Brewer looked like he just needed some game reps to settle in. Jackson continues to look like he just needs to gain back some mass and strength. The offensive line will be important this week as we need to see more from Funk and Jones in the run game.
The Broncos pass rush is also very deep with Andre Mintze and Jonathon Cooper both having success in preseason. Cooper had a Chris Garrett–like performance against the Seahawks. The offensive line has a tough test ahead and will be one of the most important x-factors to watch against the Broncos.
Speaking of Garrett, the Rams pass rush will be one of the most exciting x-factors to watch against the Broncos. In back-to-back weeks, we saw Garrett and Justin Lawler make their case for making the final 53-man roster. We’ve also seen Jonah Williams, Eric Banks, Michael Hoecht, and Marquise Copeland all flash as pass rushers as well. The Broncos have only given up two sacks in the preseason and have looked great in pass protection. Rams fans will get to see how our pass rushers look against pre-draft favorite Quinn Meinerz.
The Bronco’s offensive line has helped both Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater put together good performances in preseason as they try to win the quarterback competition (just announced that Teddy Bridgewater won the job). With how thin the Rams are perceived to be at edge rusher, it will be interesting to see how players like Garrett, Lawler, and John Daka respond with their final opportunity to show that they belong on the 53-man roster and a place in the Rams rotation.
Robert Rochell missed week one of the preseason with an injury. Then in joint practices against the Raiders, he was reportedly looking good. Against the Raiders in week two he only saw ten snaps in coverage and was not targeted. We definitely need to see a larger sample from Rochell. The good news is that not being targeted likely means he was at least not giving up any really bad plays or he likely would have had the ball thrown in his direction.
This week he will have a tough test as the Broncos have been seeing good things out of K.J. Hamler and Jerry Jeudy. It will be important to see how Rochell handles a larger workload and how he performs against players who are NFL starters. If he can lock down someone like Jeudy it would be a big boost in confidence for a team that has a lot of relatively unproven depth at cornerback. Rochell has an opportunity to have a breakout performance and be one of the more thrilling x-factors against the Broncos.
The Broncos quarterbacks and receivers have played well through two weeks of preseason. What hasn’t been discussed is that the Broncos are finding success throwing deep. Hamler has an 80-yard reception while Jeudy has two catches over 30 yards. The Rams have a deep group at safety. We finally saw Terrell Burgess return to action after an injury in his rookie season and he looked good. Last week we saw the second standout performance from the duo of J.R. Reed and JuJu Hughes. Both players have looked good in coverage and against the run. Reed and Hughes have both been making splash plays throughout the preseason.
Rookie Troy Warner has also looked good in very limited action. He has reminded me a lot of Taylor Rapp with his tackling. It is unlikely that Warner makes the 53-man roster but he does have an outside shot at making the practice squad. Warner has a lot of versatility and has been playing well on special teams as well. How the safeties respond to the Bronco’s offense will be watched closely.