The LA Rams have wrapped up their 2022 preseason, finishing with a 1-2 record. This off-season has had no shortage of headlines for the defending champs as they’ve prepared their roster for the upcoming season. With Week 1 and the Buffalo Bills looming in just over 10 days, the LA Rams are once again all-in and are looking to run it back.
Let’s take a look at the five biggest takeaways from their 2022 preseason.
1. Bryce Perkins could be QB2 in 2023
For the second consecutive offseason, QB Bryce Perkins has made it a tough decision for LA Rams head coach Sean McVay. During his tenure with the Rams, Coach McVay has frequently only kept two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. In 2021, Perkins forced his way onto the roster with a stellar preseason. In 2022, it’s been much more of the same. This year, though, perhaps the decision isn’t too much of a difficult one.
You see, Bryce Perkins brings a unique skill set that neither of the other quarterbacks on the Rams roster has displayed. While he is still developing as a passer, Perkins has an excellent ability to escape pressure and extend plays with his athleticism. Too many times this preseason have we seen him evade sacks and scramble, with defenders just falling off of him. His continued growth and obvious favor with the coaching staff have to make you wonder, is he being groomed for the backup role in 2023?
Rams quarterback John Wolford was a breath of fresh air from former QB Jared Goff in 2020, but with the presence of veteran hurler Matthew Stafford, the parameters of this offense have changed. Wolford doesn’t have the huge arm to make the throws that Stafford makes. While he is mobile enough, he doesn’t have the escape and play-extension ability that Perkins has. With John Wolford becoming a free agent at the end of this season, I believe the transition to Perkins as QB2 is becoming much clearer.
2. WR Lance McCutcheon is more than a feel-good story
Every preseason, an NFL team seems to have a player who is defying all odds on his way to making the 53-man roster. This year, that is the LA Rams and WR Lance McCutcheon.
McCutcheon, an undrafted rookie out of Montana State, has lit it up this preseason for the Rams. He burst onto the scene in the Rams’ first preseason game against the Chargers where he recorded 5 receptions for 87 yards and TWO touchdowns, as well as a two-point conversion. In Week 2 against the Texans, he showed up for 5 catches to go with 97 receiving yards. Last night against the Cincinnati Bengals, 5 catches for 76 yards. He hauled in 15 of his 20 targets this preseason. Yeah, this guy is making the roster.
However, it can get even better than that for the young WR. McCutcheon has a skill set that translates to Sundays in the regular season, and he could potentially make a contribution sooner rather than later. He is a very smooth route runner with strong hands to make aggressive catches at the catch point. He gets in and out of his breaks very well, while also not being afraid to do the dirty work across the middle.
These are the qualities that Coach McVay looks for in receivers in his offense. LA Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp and wide receiver Allen Robinson will be constants this year, but with the WR3 position in flux right now, it’s not a stretch to think we could see McCutcheon steal some snaps with the first-team offense this season.
3. Rams rookie DBs will compete in year 1
In the 2022 NFL Draft, the LA Rams drafted two young cornerbacks that they hoped would be important pieces for the future. After training camp and the preseason, it looks like both defensive backs: Derion Kendrick and Cobie Durant; are ready for action in year 1.
Let’s start with Kendrick. A sixth-round pick out of the University of Georgia, Derion Kendrick didn’t have the most conventional path to the NFL. Dealing with coaching staff changes and off-the-field challenges, Kendrick bounced from Clemson University to Georgia. Despite some of his troubles, Kendrick is a straight-up baller. At 6-foot-0 and190-pounds, he is a big physical corner. However, as a former wide receiver, he also has excellent ball skills. His size and ability make him a good man-to-man coverage corner, but his quick change of direction and ball skills make him an asset in zone coverage as well. He has looked good in training camp and the preseason. Look for Kendrick to see some snaps on the outside this year for the Rams.
Coming out of South Carolina State, there wasn’t a ton of hype surrounding CB Decobie Durant. However, over LA Rams GM Les Snead’s tenure, the Rams have found a few diamonds in the rough in the drafts’ late rounds. Durant, taken with the 142nd overall pick, seems to be another one of those steals.
While Durant isn’t a big corner, standing at 5-foot-10 and weighing 180-pounds, he more than makes up for his size in athleticism. He has blazing speed, clocking in at 4.38-seconds for the 40-yard dash in the NFL combine. During the preseason Durant has shown his ability to line up in the slot, but his leaping ability and speed also make him a valuable asset on the outside. He is slowly becoming a fan favorite and is obviously well-liked by the coaching staff.
Look out for these two young corners to make an impact for the Rams in 2022.
4. Rams rookie Kyren Williams locks up RB3
In a very short amount of time, it seems like rookie RB Kyren Williams has made his mark on the LA Rams’ coaching staff.
After suffering a foot injury that knocked him out of action in OTAs, Williams returned to training camp during the latter stages. In just a few short weeks though, the rookie RB has carved himself out a role for the Rams in 2022. With the recent soft tissue injuries to LA Rams veteran running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson, Kyren has been getting the majority of the reps with the first-team offense along with Jake Funk and reportedly is looking good while doing it.
I’ve been eager to see Williams in the preseason, but the Rams already see him as too valuable to put out there. Kyren possesses a very patient running style that is powerful but also has the in-game speed to take it to the house. His biggest role with the Rams may be on third down with his blocking and pass-catching abilities, areas where he excelled while playing college football at Notre Dame.
5. Tutu Atwell’s hype may have some merit
The debate over LA Rams wide receiver Tutu Atwell is a fun one among Rams fans. Much of the Ramily has mixed emotions about him, considering where he was drafted. In 2021, the Rams selected Tutu Atwell in the second round of the NFL Draft. In a spot where many fans wanted offensive line help, some weren’t happy to see the Rams take an “undersized” NFL wide receiver.
His rookie year wasn’t promising, but Tutu Atwell has been lighting it up this year in training camp. He was drafted to be a speed threat in the Rams’ offense, taking the top off of defenses for Matthew Stafford. So far this offseason, he’s done just that. Consistently in training camp, we have heard that Matthew Stafford or John Wolford unfurled another 50-plus yard bomb to Atwell.
Now the question is, can he perform that well against NFL secondaries in full contact?
He’s done so well, that HC Sean McVay held him out of the teams’ three preseason contests. Atwell has obviously carved himself out a role for the 2022 offense, and Rams fans should be excited to see what Atwell can provide for the team this year.