Baltimore: The Rams play host to the Oakland Raiders next week, so fans finally will get a chance to see new and returning Rams star players in action at the Coliseum.
Not so fast.
Only two of the Rams’ projected 22 starters played in Thursday night’s defeat by the Baltimore Ravens.
In light of several serious injuries suffered by NFL players in preseason openers, Rams coach Sean McVay was asked if there was a possible scenario in which stars such as quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh would not play a preseason snap.
“I wouldn’t go that far, yet,” McVay said, adding, “It’s not, certainly, out of the question how we would approach the Oakland game.”
The Rams participated in two joint practices with the Ravens before McVay held out nearly all starters during the 33-7 defeat at M&T Bank Stadium. McVay said after the game that had been the plan all along.
He also indicated that he might deploy a similar strategy against the Raiders, especially with his team playing at Oakland in a September 10 season opener on “Monday Night Football.”
If McVay had any doubts, they probably were confirmed by news out of San Francisco and Washington.
Tight end George Kittle and running back Matt Breida suffered shoulder injuries in the 49ers’ preseason opener. Redskins running back Derrius Guice suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Guice, a rookie, had six carries for 19 yards when he was injured.
“It’s a really delicate balance of measuring the importance of getting some experience” before the regular-season opener, McVay said, “but then also making sure that you don’t put guys in harm’s way and at the risk of losing them for the season.”
Samson Ebukam came off the left edge and chased Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco as he scrambled to the right. The second-year linebacker was bearing down on his target when Flacco dropped to the ground in a slide.
“He was a little bit faster than I thought,” Ebukam said. “It’s a good thing I didn’t dive or I would have looked really slow.”
Ebukam and offensive lineman Jamon Brown were the only starters who played against the Ravens, and McVay said Friday that Ebukam was among the players that performed especially well.
Ebukam said the game action was a welcome change from practices that do not include live tackling.
“I’m always getting next to the quarterback and I’m always having to slow down,” he said. “It felt good just to be able to pull the trigger.
“I got to work out all the kinks and come back next week strong.”
Cornerback Sam Shields played in a game for the first time since he suffered a concussion in the Green Bay Packers’ 2016 season opener.
Shields was not credited with a tackle, but he said he did not shy from contact.
“I was kind of nervous at first, but as soon as I got my feet in the grass and everything was moving fast it was like second nature,” he said. “I definitely had fun and definitely blessed to be back.”