Fresh from a defeat in the Battle of Los Angeles against the Chargers, Coach Sean McVay and the Rams will give the depth chart an extended look Thursday night in Green Bay. Starters Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, and most of the defense will be rested in the final preseason tuneup.
Not expected to play is Tuesday’s Rams signee Eric Dickerson. He is anticipated to retire as a Ram.
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The Rams will not lack punch on offense: backup Malcolm Brown ran between the tackles and off the edge for 44 yards on nine carries against the Chargers. Brown added a 22-yard reception.
Quarterback Sean Mannion should see the bulk of the snaps Thursday night; the team may also be evaluating third-stringer Dan Orlovsky. Offensive linemen Darrell Williams and Andrew Donnal are competing for starter roles, after the entrenched starters Jamon Brown and former Wisconsin Badger Rob Havenstein struggled on Saturday.
The Rams deep receiving corps is not at the level of “The Greatest Show On Turf,” but backups Pharoh Cooper, Josh Reynolds, and Brandon Shippen bring some athleticism to the table and may provide an excellent test for the Packers secondary. Coach Mike McCarthy will no doubt be examining how his potential defensive backs play in this game.
With the roster cutdowns looming on September 2nd, the Rams defense offers multiple opportunities for the linebacker positions. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips’ base 3-4 defense will create spots for around 10 linebackers, so Thursday night will see the best efforts of depth players like former Packer Andy Mulumba, Davis Tull, Willie Mays III, and Folarin Orimolade.
Marqui Christian and Blake Countess are battling for the free safety role, and nose tackles Omarius Bryant and Tyrunn Walker hope to be on the roster come September 3rd.
Kicker Greg “Legatron” Zuerlein and punter Johnny Hekker may be the only starters to appear in this contest. Wide receivers Pharoh Cooper and punt returner Tavon Austin are dueling for the kick return role, Cooper should get the returns in this game.
The final preseason game is usually notable not for its entertainment value, or the quality of the play. Generally, it is the last chance of players on the roster bubble to make an impact.
With backups and unknown quantities at the key positions, it is difficult to predict a result The Packers’ experienced reserves and home field advantage should be enough to win: Packers 24-Rams 13.