The Rams concluded the preseason with a 16-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday at Paycor Stadium.
Coach Sean McVay and his staff now turn their attention to trimming the 80-player roster to 53 by Tuesday’s NFL deadline. The Rams open the season Sept. 8 against the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium.
Here are observations from the game:
Aaron Donald did not look like he was sweating any disciplinary action
Two days after the Rams and Bengals brawled at the end of a joint practice, Donald, like all Rams starters, watched from the sideline.
A video of the fight showed a helmet being swung. In the video, Donald was holding a Bengals helmet as he fell to the ground.
Teams, not the NFL, are responsible for overseeing conduct and administering any disciplinary action for incidents at practices.
“We’ve handled that in-house,” McVay said of the fight. “I do trust that if something like that occurs again in terms of if there is a fight or whatever, those situations that played out won’t be a factor because I have such trust in our players.
“And they understand, and Aaron understands, that that was something we were fortunate that nobody got injured. And for that, I’m very grateful.”
Was there discipline involved?
“Yeah, we’re going to keep all of that stuff in-house,” McVay said.
But there was some discipline?
“I talked with Aaron,” McVay said, “We’ve dealt with it in-house.”
Donald was not in the locker room when it was opened to reporters after the game.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor was asked whether he had any conversations with McVay after the game about the fight.
“We put it behind us,” Taylor said. “We went to dinner the next night — that night actually. We’ve got a great relationship with that coaching staff.”
Rookie running back Kyren Williams is on track for a big role — without having played
Williams, a fifth-round draft pick from Notre Dame, began training camp on the physically unable to perform list because he was recovering from foot surgery. He was held out of preseason games against the Chargers and Houston Texans, and McVay said he would play against the Bengals.
But with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson sidelined because of what McVay has described as “soft-tissue” injuries, Williams took first-team reps this past week — including during the joint practices with the Bengals. He did so well, coaches did not want to expose him to possible injury Saturday.
“You just kind of weigh the risk-reward, and he’s a guy that we anticipate having a big role for us,” McVay said. “He’s mature beyond his years. He’s going to be a part of this game plan moving toward the Bills.”
McVay said Henderson ran at full speed for trainers Saturday and that he would practice when the Rams begin preparations for the Bills. Akers’ status is to be determined.
Rookie wide receiver Lance McCutcheon appears to have secured a roster spot
McCutcheon, an undrafted free agent from Montana State, caught five passes for 76 yards — including one for 32 yards — to complete a productive preseason.
“He’s definitely put himself in consideration,” McVay said, adding, “He’s caught the ball incredibly well, he’s separated.
“He’s got to make sure he does a great job contributing on special teams.”
“First two games, special teams weren’t very good on my part,” McCutcheon said, “so I really had to come out here and show all these coaches and everyone in this organization that I’m a competitor.”
Quarterback Bryce Perkins also appears roster-bound
With John Wolford sidelined because of a thumb injury, Perkins played the entire game.
Perkins completed 14 of 19 passes for 143 yards and rushed eight times for 33 yards, including a three-yard touchdown.
“I’ve just got to continue to grow,” Perkins said.
McVay said Wolford did not suffer ligament or bone damage, but the injury altered the way he could deliver a pass. Wolford is expected to be ready when the Rams begin preparations for the Bills.
Rookie cornerback Derion Kendrick can make plays
Kendrick made three tackles, the last in the fourth quarter when he delivered an aggressive hit on wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II.
Rams players on the sideline came alive as Kendrick celebrated the play.
“In order to be a good corner in the league, you got to be able to come up and tackle,” Kendrick said.
Outside linebacker Chris Garrett could be a force
Garrett, a sixth-round draft pick in 2021, made some plays during his rookie preseason before injuries derailed his chance to compete for a rotational role.
He was sidelined against the Chargers and Texans because of injuries.
On Saturday, Garrett started, made two tackles and pressured the quarterback several times.
“You felt his presence on a handful of plays,” McVay said.
Garrett could provide depth behind Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis.