For many St. Louis Rams, Saturday’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers will be their last home contest.
The Rams host Green Bay with a 3 p.m. kickoff, ending the home portion of the preseason. St. Louis then goes on the road to visit the Cleveland Browns Aug. 23 (7 p.m.) and the Miami Dolphins Aug. 28 (6 p.m.) to close out the preseason.
By the time the Rams return for the regular-season opener against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Sept. 7, the roster will be cut down to 53 players.
That means Saturday’s game is extra important for players on the roster bubble.
NFL teams must cut down to 75 players Aug. 26 and then to 53 players Aug. 30. That means a lot of the players seeing time Saturday will watching the action Sept. 7 with the rest of the fans.
According to the team’s official website, www.stlrams.com, there are several players to watch.
• Quarterback Sam Bradford is slated to see some playing time, his first action since suffering a season-ending knee injury against the Carolina Panthers in Week 7 of the 2013 season.
“We’re going to play him a quarter maybe a little bit more and for him to continue doing the same things he’s doing out here,” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said Thursday. “Push the ball down the field, it’s an opportunity to work against someone else and work with our receivers that he’s been working very well with right now.”
Bradford said getting back in a game situation is very important.
“I think it’s important just to be out there knowing that I can get hit, knowing that I’m probably going to take a few hits in the preseason,” Bradford said this week. “I think it’s probably bigger for everyone else to see that it’s going to be OK. I’m going to get hit its part of the game, it’s no big deal. I’ve come back from an injury before, but it will be nice to take that first hit and get up knowing that everything’s fine.”
It’s possible that Bradford will have some additional support with center Scott Wells possibly being able to play. It was indicated Thursday that left tackle Jake Long will return for the Cleveland game. Rodger Saffold likely will be held out once again with free agent signing Davin Joseph likely to see time instead.
• Receiver Kenny Britt was one of the biggest free agent signings during the offseason and watching how he can work with Bradford during game situations will be a key to see how the receiving game will work. If Britt doesn’t come through, the Rams have a number of other receivers pushing for playing time.
• Ray Ray Armstrong is looking to take advantage of the current linebacker situation. It’s likely that middle linebacker James Laurinaitis will be held out again, meaning that Armstrong, a special teams ace, will get more reps in the regular defense.
• Tre Mason is working hard to climb the depth chart and was third behind Zac Stacy and Bennie Cunningham last week. Mason led the Rams in rushing yards against New Orleans last Friday, but has got to work on his receiving game out of the backfield, according to Fisher.
• Defensive linemen Michael Sam and Ethan Westbrooks are looking to just make the roster on a stacked defensive line.
Other areas to watch include the secondary, where Mizzou’s E.J. Gaines made an impact last week by taking advantage of injuries to start.
“Janoris Jenkins practiced today,” Fisher said Thursday. “I don’t know what we’ll be doing with him in the game. Trumaine (Johnson) will be back in the game, Brandon McGee will be back, so the younger corners will play later in the game.”
At offensive line, it’s going to be interesting to see where Greg Robinson, the second overall draft pick in last spring’s draft, plays. He saw action both at guard and tackle in the opener.
For anyone going to the game, the NFL fan policy is in effect with fans not being allowed to bring in large bags. Fans are advised to put their items into a one gallon clear plastic freezer bag for admission.
Additionally, there will be some road closures in the vicinity of the Edward Jones Dome. Those closures can be found at www.stlouisrams.com under the Gameday information page.
No additional security measures are currently planned due to the unrest in North St. Louis County.