DENVER — Star running back Todd Gurley sat against the Denver Broncos on Saturday and his Los Angeles Rams lost their first preseason game, a 17-9 defeat to the reigning Super Bowl champions at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The Rams’ first-team defense played well, but the entire offense was limited to only three field goals after going 7-for-7 in red zone situations through the first two games.
Case Keenum was again efficient, and Jared Goff again had his ups and downs on a night that featured at least a handful of drops by the Rams’ receivers. Leading 6-0, the Rams’ second-string defense surrendered a quick touchdown drive against quarterback Trevor Siemian, who ended it with a 1-yard pass to Virgil Green with four minutes left before halftime. The Broncos then added a 50-yard field goal by Brandon McManus and a 7-yard touchdown run by Ronnie Hillman, who gave his team an eight-point lead with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
QB depth chart: The Rams’ depth chart has pretty much already been set, with Keenum the starter and Goff the backup. Keenum ran with the first team for the third straight game, going 8-of-12 for 77 yards in four series, two of which ended in field goals. Goff went 4-of-12 for 45 yards and is now 16-of-33 for 165 yards in three preseason games, adding a touchdown, an interception, a lost fumble and four sacks. Keenum is 18-of-24 for 188 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and one sack in three games.
Maybe that dude could start: Pharoh Cooper has already cemented himself as the Rams’ No. 3 receiver and turned in a very impressive catch to assist Goff. Seven days after scoring his first touchdown — by running an out and reaching for the pylon for an 11-yard score — Cooper came across the middle, extended with his left hand, tipped the ball to himself and secured a catch on third down. The rookie out of South Carolina will certainly contribute this season.
Who got hurt? Cornerback Troy Hill, seemingly vying for one of the last spots on the Rams’ roster, appeared to hurt himself while making a tackle on Hillman nearing the midway point of the third quarter. Hill walked off on his own power, but was escorted off the field by trainers.
A surprise player who impressed: Many have wondered when talented rookie tight end Tyler Higbee would eventually take over as the starter, but the man who currently has that job, Lance Kendricks, had a nice day with the first team, catching three passes for a team-leading 36 yards. Kendricks caught a 15-yard pass during the second drive and a 23-yard pass in the third drive.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Rams looked …: Stout on defense. Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald recorded tackles for loss through the Broncos’ first two drives, both of them three-and-outs. On the third drive, the Rams forced a turnover on downs, with Dominique Easley coming up with a big tackle. And on the fourth one, Trumaine Johnson provided exceptional coverage of Cody Latimer on a deep ball up the sidelines, tipping it to Cody Davis for an interception.
One reason to be concerned: Goff doesn’t seem to have progressed to the level of an NFL starter just yet, though you must take into account that at least three balls were dropped while he was in the game. Goff slid awkwardly on third down in his first drive, falling just short of a first down with T.J. Ward closing in. In Goff’s second drive, he was bailed out by Cooper’s sensational play and also on a key drop by Broncos safety Darian Stewart, who would’ve had an easy interception and likely touchdown on Goff’s pass to the outside while deep in Broncos territory. On his third drive, Goff took a snap from the shotgun on third down and took a sack from his blind side.