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Five Takeaways: Preseason At Raiders
August 20, 2017 05:05 AM | Myles Simmons


OAKLAND -The Rams' first-team offense had an impressive showing against the Raiders, finishing the first half with a 17-14 lead. Los Angeles ended up winning the contest 24-21, but as we know there's plenty more to preseason play than the final score. Here are five takeaways from the Rams' second exhibition matchup.

1) Goff looks sharp

After a solid start to the preseason last week against Dallas, quarterback Jared Goff looked downright sharp against the Raiders on Saturday, completing passes to seven different receivers. The second-year quarterback finished 16-of-20 passing for 160 yards with a touchdown, playing all but one drive of the first half.

Goff led the Rams down the field for a touchdown on the game's opening drive, taking only eight plays to reach paydirt. Following a Los Angeles takeaway, Goff again orchestrated an eight-play drive to bring the Rams another TD.

It was Los Angeles' second touchdown of the first quarter, and second of their first three drives. In all, Goff engineered three scoring drives - the third of which was a field goal. That came after the Rams had taken left tackle Andrew Whitworth, left guard Rodger Saffold, and center John Sullivan out of the game.

"We just came out here and executed how we're coached to execute," Sullivan said at halftime. "We spent a little bit more time game planning this week, not like a full week, but we knew what to expect. We know our assignments. We came out here and executed as an offense and that's how you end up with two touchdown drives in your first three."

2) Goff to Kupp connection is strong

We've heard plenty about how rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp could have a monster first season. It looked like that could be the case in the first half, as Goff hit the Eastern Washington product six times for 70 yards and a touchdown.

The longest completion was Kupp's touchdown. Goff faked a handoff to running back Todd Gurley, the rolled out and found a wide open Kupp in the end zone for a 23-yard score.

Three of Kupp's six receptions came on third down and resulted in first downs, which is a significant part of the reason why L.A. finished 6-of-8 in third-down efficiency in the first half.

3) Watkins plays during first half

Rams head coach Sean McVay said he expected new wide receiver Sammy Watkins to play with the first-team offense, and that he did. Watkins finished with a pair of receptions for eight yards. Watkins' first reception was a short pass on 3rd-and-2 for five yards, resulting in a first down. And his second came a play later -a screen pass that went for three yards.

One pass Goff and Watkins didn't connect on was a one-on-one opportunity for Watkins. The wideout ran a go route and Goff threw a nice pass to the left side, but Watkins couldn't corral it in the end zone.

But just Watkins' presence may have had an impact early. On Kupp's touchdown reception, Watkins was running a route underneath and looked like he drew more attention from the defense. That left Kupp wide open for the touchdown.

4) Johnson gets a pick

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson had a solid camp at UC Irvine and that translated to the field on Saturday.

In the first quarter, Oakland faced 3rd-and-6 for their own 34-yard line. Outside linebacker Connor Barwin pressured Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, but the signal-caller was able to evade the rush in the pocket. But when he fired a pass off to his right, Johnson was there to catch it and make the interception.

Johnson's nine-yard return set the offense up at the Oakland 41. And the Rams took advantage of the field position, as Gurley ran in a two-yard touchdown to cap the drive.

5) Ball security significantly better

Last week, the Rams struggled with ball security, fumbling five times. That became a point of emphasis during the practice week, as the club's offense started each session with a ball security circuit.

The extra work paid off, as Los Angeles did not fumble at all in the first half and surrendered no giveaways.



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