Football is back, even if it is only the preseason. The Saints defeated the Rams 26-24, but no matter, this time of year is about learning from mistakes and evaluation. The coaches and fans both got their first look at the 2014 rookie class in an actual game situation. Here is Ramblin’ Fans’ first Rams rookie stock report after week 1 of the preseason. This series will continue each week throughout the 2014 campaign.
Greg Robinson: EVEN
Robinson started at left guard and eventually moved to left tackle before he took to the sideline after the second quarter. Robinson looked solid at both spots, showing skills and poise. At one point he completely collapsed the left side of the line himself, which allowed RB Benny Cunningham to go for a 19 yard jaunt mostly untouched. The only hiccup for Robinson came on a miscommunication between he and C Tim Barnes, which caused a blown assignment and sack of QB Shaun Hill in the first quarter.
Aaron Donald: EVEN
No rookie generated more hype in Rams Park than Donald, and he flashed his ability to penetrate against the Saints. With DT’s Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford sidelined, Donald got the start against New Orleans’ starting unit. He did not register a tackle. The key for Donald will be knowing when to penetrate and when to bear down and maintain his gap on run plays up the gut. It should be noted that the Saints were without Pro Bowl G’s Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs for the game.
Lamarcus Joyner: Stock UP
The undersized kid out of Florida State played a lot last night, as he stayed on the field into the fourth quarter. Joyner was always around the ball and put himself in position to make plays. He had a solid tackling performance on a defense that struggled in that department as a whole. He finished with two tackles. On the negative side, he was flagged for a defensive holding penalty in the secondary during the first quarter.
Tre Mason: Stock UP
Head coach Jeff Fisher anticipated that each RB would see about six carries against New Orleans. Mason far exceeded that total, as he carried the ball 15 times for 51 yards, which led the team in both categories. The rookie from Auburn showed wiggle, vision and power in his first preseason game. His longest run went for 20 yards, as he cut back after noticing a nice seal block by the right guard. It should be noted that Mason also did well in pass protection, which should boost his stock even more.
Mo Alexander: EVEN
Alexander didn’t see much action until the last quarter of the game, and he finished with one tackle in his preseason debut. Alexander was frequently around the ball against the run, but wasn’t really tested through the air. Overall he had a fairly vanilla outing. He came in late in the game, which suggests that he isn’t pushing S Rodney McLeod for snaps at this time.
E.J. Gaines: Stock UP
Gaines was all over the field against New Orleans. He finished with four solo tackles and assisted on two other stops. The former Mizzou corner gained the most ground on the Rams’ depth chart out of all the rookies, showing his willingness to compete and make plays. Gaines stuffed Saints FB Austin Johnson on a goal line reception, and he nearly stripped the ball out of the hands of a Saints RB on a play that was whistled over by the officials.
Garrett Gilbert: EVEN
Gilbert was the second QB to take the field, following QB Shaun Hill and preceding QB Austin Davis. The SMU product marched the offense down the field for a field goal score in a two minute situation before the second quarter concluded. During that drive, Gilbert hooked up with WR Tavon Austin on three separate occasions and threw a dart to the back shoulder of WR Austin Pettis for 21 yards. On the negative side, he was helped out with a dropped interception early on, and he also failed to see a wide open Pettis on another play. All in all he finished 6 of 11 passing for 53 yards. He also scrambled once for one yard.
Mitchell Van Dyk: Stock DOWN
Van Dyk got beat routinely against New Orleans. He (and the rest of the line) allowed Saints DT Tyrunn Walker to appear unblockable – allowing him to finish with 5 tackles and a sack. He had one sack for the Saints all of last season.
Christian Bryant: EVEN
Bryant was healthy and got some snaps in the fourth quarter. He did not register a tackle and didn’t make any sort of impact in the game. His stock remains where it was prior to the exhibition contest.
Michael Sam: Stock UP
Sam entered the game early at LDE with 5:13 left in the first quarter. He finished with one tackle and one QB hit. He also had one QB pressure and had another nullified by penalty. The DE got some reps on kickoff and punt teams as well.
Demetrius Rhaney: Stock DOWN
Much like Van Dyk, Rhaney had a very lackluster outing. Both he and Van Dyk will need to drastically improve their technique if they want to make the Rams roster.
None of the Rams’ undrafted rookies will be documented in this series until they make the final roster. As mentioned above, this series will continue after each game this season. Check back in with us for updates.