NFL preseason: Five takeaways from Rams’ loss to Texans

The reigning Super Bowl champion Rams played the Houston Texans in their second preseason game Friday night at SoFi Stadium.

Here are observations from the Rams’ 24-20 loss on Friday:

Quarterback John Wolford was under pressure from the situation and the pass rush

Coach Sean McVay’s decision to play Wolford in the first half and Bryce Perkins in the second resulted in a dose of quarterback intrigue.

Was it a chance for Wolford – Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford’s backup for the past two seasons – to just get some game representatives? Or was it an attempt to give Perkins a chance for a fair comparison for the role of Stafford’s backup?

Wolford completed 14 of 22 passes for 142 yards. He was fired five times.

It was Wolford’s first extended season since 2020, starting the season finale against the Arizona Cardinals and then starting and playing most of the first quarter in a wildcard playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Rams quarterback Bryce Perkins jumps over Texans Terrance Brooks (left) and Derek Rivers for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Rams quarterback Bryce Perkins jumps over Texans Terrance Brooks (left) and Derek Rivers for a touchdown in the third quarter.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

McVay said this week he wanted to see Wolford command the offense, hold out drives and score points.

The Rams managed two field goals.

Perkins put in a solid performance against the Chargers, positioning him for a run in a roster spot in the opening game for the second straight year.

He started slowly, his first two runs were incomplete.

But on the first play of his second possession, he slipped a tackle in the backfield and completed a 14-yard pass to Roger Carter Jr.’s tight end.

After the drive faltered, the Rams’ Duron Lowe forced a fumble on a punt return, and Carter grabbed the ball and ran into the end zone for a touchdown.

Receiver Lance McCutcheon continued his quest for a roster spot

Rams receiver Lance McCutcheon makes a catch in front of Texas defenseman Jonathan Owens for a first down on August 18, 2022.

Rams receiver Lance McCutcheon makes a catch in front of Texans defenseman Jonathan Owens for a first down in the first quarter.

(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

McCutcheon, an undrafted free agent from Montana State, built on his two-touchdown performance against the Chargers.

On Friday, he had a 29-yard catch in the first quarter and a 22-yard reception in the second.

McCutcheon also played on special teams and remains a viable contender for the 53-man roster.

Sophomore pro Jacob Harris also contributed with three catches for 18 yards. The 6ft 6in Harris, drafted as a tight end but moved to the receiver, could offer the receiving corps an intriguing option if they can master the offense.

Tight end Brycen Hopkins settles into SoFi Stadium

Hopkins, who had a clutch performance in Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals, caught six passes for 41 yards against the Texans in the first half.

The Purdue third-year pro appears on course for a role alternating with veteran Tyler Higbee and Kendall Blanton.

Rookie cornerbacks Decobie Durant and Derion Kendrick played

Durant and Kendrick excelled during training camp, and both seemed to gain confidence after playing the Chargers.

In Friday’s first quarter, Durant fired Texas quarterback Davis Mills. He got help from rookie outside linebacker Daniel Hardy.

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp and owner Stan Kroenke laugh before a game against the Texans on Aug. 18, 2022.

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp and team owner Stan Kroenke share a laugh before Friday’s game.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Durant also broke off a pass in the second quarter.

Late in the second quarter, linebacker Jake Gervase fumbled the running Rex Burkhead, and Kendrick recaptured the ball. The game established a field goal.

In the closing seconds of the first half, Kendrick draped Texas receiver Nico Collins in the end zone and fought for the ball, but officials ruled Collins made the contested catch.

Defensive lineman Jonah Williams had a sack and forced a fumble. Sophomore Robert Rochell, who started five games last season before suffering a chest injury, interrupted a pass.

Matt Gay arrives in midseason form

Gay made it to the Pro Bowl last season after making 32 of 34 field goal attempts.

On Friday, he kicked a 43-yard field goal in the first quarter to give the Rams a 3-0 lead. His 36-yard field goal by 40 seconds in the second quarter increased the lead to 6-0.

Gay didn’t put his first kickoff through the end zone, ostensibly so players could be evaluated by coaches in the kickoff coverage unit. His second kickoff resulted in a touchback.

Punter Riley Dixon got a feel for new work place

Dixon has no easy task – replacing four-time All-Pro Johnny Hekker, who played 10 seasons for the Rams.

Dixon, a seventh-year pro, was playing for the Denver Broncos in 2016 when Rams special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis was working for the Broncos.

Dixon’s first punt on Friday was disallowed because of a penalty against the Texans. His next two kicks traveled 52 and 54 yards.

Dixon averaged 44.5 yards for four punts in the first half. He had a touchback and placed two inside the 20-yard line.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-08-19/rams-texans-takeaways-nfl-preseason-quarterbacks NFL preseason: Five takeaways from Rams’ loss to Texans

Emma Bowman

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