Rookies shine in Rams' fumble-riddled preseason opener vs. Cowboys

From ESPN - August 12, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- A year can change so much. It was 364 days ago that the Los Angeles Rams hosted the Dallas Cowboys for their preseason opener at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Jeff Fisher patrolled the sidelines, Case Keenum started at quarterback, Dak Prescott was merely a rookie fill-in, and 89,140 people were in the stands, representing the largest crowd ever to watch an NFL exhibition game on American soil.

The Rams hosted the Cowboys to begin the preseason once again on Saturday, but it was Sean McVay as head coach, Jared Goff as the starting quarterback, Prescott among the resting star players, and 62,888 at the game -- a reflection of the 4-12 season that sapped some of the excitement for the local team in this city. The new-look Rams ultimately came away with a 13-10 victory, thanks to an impressive defensive performance and a late Sean Mannion drive that set up a 36-yard field goal by backup kicker Travis Coons.

Below are some key takeaways.

QB depth chart: Goff got two series in very quickly. He went three-and-out, then the Cowboys muffed a punt, allowing him to take over on the Cowboys' 33-yard line. Goff then completed a 19-yard pass to Cooper Kupp on play-action, putting the Rams in the red zone. He later threw a pass to Robert Woods off a quick slant, which Woods fumbled before it was recovered by Kupp in the end zone. That was it. Goff went 3-of-4 for 34 yards. His backup, Mannion, saw extended action and played very well against Cowboys backups, going 18-of-25 for 144 yards.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Rams looked ...: not too different from last season, but it was a small sample size. Their defense -- without Robert Quinn, Mark Barron and Aaron Donald (a camp holdout) -- played well and aggressively against a Dallas offense that did not have Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. On offense, Todd Gurley gained only 2 yards on four carries. And Goff kept most of his throws pretty short.


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