Much has been made about the apparent paranoia for the St. Louis Rams as far as divulging their true intentions for rookie speedster Tavon Austin are concerned. That secrecy may be something that Jeff Fisher and the coaching staff was concerned about throughout the preseason but not nearly as much as the idea of staying healthy.
And fortunately for St. Louis they managed to emerge from exhibition play relatively unscathed. That was by design of course, as Fisher elected to play very few starters even a limited amount of time in the final preseason tilt despite the Rams being winless in the exhibitions heading in. Only six players assumed to be starters actually saw playing time with two offensive linemen in guard Chris Williams and tackle Rodger Saffold, wideout Austin Pettis, corner Janoris Jenkins, rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree, and rookie safety T.J. McDonald.
These guys likely saw action just to iron out any final wrinkles that may have remained in the coaching staff’s eyes as far as their usage in the upcoming year is concerned. The same goes for the aforementioned rookie Austin who actually saw the most balls he’s seen all preseason with three catches for a modest 26 yards.
One of the bigger developments from the preseason finale filled with backups in action was Isaiah Pead fumbling – again. Pead coughed up the opening kickoff, although the Rams did recover the fumble to mask his error. The compilation of mistakes that he has made between his limited work a year ago and the preseason this year have to give the coaching staff reservations about giving him extensive playing time. Daryl Richardson will be the starter in the backfield, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see rookie Zac Stacy play his way into the No. 2 role as a short yardage specialist as the season moves along.
What also appeared to be settled in the finale was the backup quarterback battle between Kellen Clemens and Austin Davis. The Rams are still likely to carry both behind starter Sam Bradford for the upcoming season, but Clemens really outplayed Davis going 13-for-18 for 188 yards on the night. Although Davis did record the only two scores through the air for the Rams in leading them from behind, his 6-for-13 for 50 yards weren’t very impressive.
So the preseason finale was relatively uneventful, but that’s just how the Rams envisioned it. Getting through the games that don’t count with no one seriously injured is a huge plus for this young club. It will be interesting to see if any unexpected cuts happen prior to the Saturday deadline of 6pm ET when rosters must be narrowed down to 53 for the regular season.