<
>

Observation Deck: St. Louis Rams

8/28/2014



MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher played coy all week about how much his starters would play against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night.

As it turned out, they didn't play at all. All 22 likely starters sat out and Miami took a similar approach. From the Rams' standpoint, that's completely understandable, given what happened in the first half in Cleveland last Saturday, when five starters left with injuries.

In the battle of the junior varsity squads, the Rams (1-3) jumped to an early lead but couldn't hang on late as the Dolphins scored 14 unanswered points for a 14-13 win.

Some more thoughts and observations from Thursday's game:

  • On defense, the Rams showed a lot of a three-down-linemen look with three linebackers and five defensive backs. In fact, they played it exclusively. Even with backups in, coordinator Gregg Williams was OK with showing a few blitzes. On offense, they spent a lot of time with two tight ends in the game, with little in the way of pre-snap motion or movement.

  • No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson received a lot of playing time, starting at left tackle. So much for putting him at left guard and letting him settle in there. It's fair to wonder at this point if he's going to start the season as a backup.

  • Defensive linemen Michael Sam and Ethan Westbrooks continued to make their cases for roster spots. Sam was particularly impressive against the run, which is a good sign for a guy who has mostly showed up as a pass rusher to this point. He finished with six tackles. Westbrooks continued to show his versatility and came up with his second sack of the preseason to go with four tackles and two quarterback hits. Backup ends Eugene Sims and William Hayes did not play, leaving a lot of work for Sam and Westbrooks.

  • Receiver Austin Pettis has been awfully quiet in this preseason with one catch for 21 yards in the first three games, but he did come up with an 11-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

  • With Trumaine Johnson out four to six weeks because of a sprained MCL, the Rams could keep as many as six cornerbacks. There's likely one spot up for grabs among the group of Marcus Roberson, Darren Woodard and Greg Reid. Woodard made the best case Thursday night, showing good instincts in coverage and solid tackling skills. But he missed a pair of golden opportunities to come up with interceptions that he had in his hands. Roberson also missed out on one late.

  • Trey Watts didn't lack for opportunities to make his final statement and answered the call again, flashing the shifty running style that has caught the staff's eye. He finished with 51 yards on 13 carries.

  • I thought linebacker James Laurinaitis might get a short cameo just to get a little game action before the regular season but that didn't happen. Laurinaitis didn't play in any of the four preseason games as he works his way back from an ankle injury.

  • It was another solid outing for quarterback Austin Davis, who started against the Dolphins. He finished 12-of-19 for 162 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 107.8.