As football games go, the Rams’ 17-16 win over the Titans was like a cheap burrito. Sounds satisfying, but if you look inside you’ll find a lot of questionable stuff. For the Rams’ rookie class, Saturday’s game featured some good, some bad, and some just plain unhealthy things that we’d sooner not see again.
Greg Salas makes a splash
Both rookie receivers, Salas and Pettis, had to wait until the third team offense took the field to get any looks in the passing game, as Lance Kendricks and the Rams’ veteran WRs commanded most of the first- and second-team work. However, once they did get work, positive things started happening.
Four of their combined 6 catches by rookies went for first downs, and Salas was targeted on three consecutive passes by Thaddeus Lewis that resulted in a drop, then two catches for 25 yards that moved the Rams out of the shadow of their own goal post on the game-winning drive.
Salas was able to create separation consistently on those three plays, while working against a practice-squad cornerback named Chris Hawkins, but it’s no different than the way he’s looked in practice going up against the Rams’ first and second teamers. He has outstanding body control and showed resilient hands after the initial drop.
Robert Quinn is tamped down
This wasn’t a good night for the Rams’ defensive ends against Mike Munchak’s three tiers of well-coached offensive linemen. (Coaching up the big uglies is Munchak’s specialty – prior to becoming head coach, he played guard for 12 seasons with the Oilers, then coached offensive linemen for 14 years after that.)
Robert Quinn was held off the stat sheet, without a tackle, or even so much as a registered QB hit, thanks to a succession of effective double-teams. He is keeping company in statistical limbo with starting DEs Chris Long and James Hall. (The Rams’ only sack was registered by Laurinaitis on a blitz.)
However, athletically he continues to look strong and sharp, though I would still like to see more quickness and explosiveness off the snap.
Jermale Hines cracks the starting rotation
The Rams’ youth movement in the defensive backfield continues, with third-year cornerback Bradley Fletcher arguably becoming the team’s number one corner (though this is impossible to judge against Tennessee, who does not have a #1 receiver). And second-year safety Darian Stewart and rookie Jermale Hines both got work with the first team defense in nickel and dime packages. (While generally playing well, Stewart did give up a big 25-yard gainer from Matt Hasselbeck to their tight end Cook.)
Hines’ tackling work on the day came too often as the last line of defense against a long run by one of the Titans’ reserve running backs, but in at least one case he may have saved a score. Meanwhile, fellow rookie Jonathan Nelson registered a tackle for loss, his first of the preseason.
Fellow rookie Jabara Williams registered only one tackle, but earned a lot of positive comments in-game for the speed of his play. On a down note, UDFA cornerback Dionte Dinkins, a physical player with hopes of making the roster, suffered a hyperextended knee late in the game. No word on how much time he’ll miss.