Culver City Observer -

Rams Await Season Opener Against 49ers Monday

 

September 8, 2016

George Laase

Rams get ready for the 2016 season

The 2016 NFL regular season is suddenly staring the new Los Angeles Rams right in the face. Summer training and preseason games are now distant memories along with the HBO sports reality series "Hard Knocks." The real hard knocks are about to begin.

The Rams' season opener is not only against the divisional rival San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium, it's the second game of a Monday Night Football package on September 12 starting at 7 p.m. Beginning the season on the road against a team that's reorganizing may be an opening blessing for the Rams.

Strangely, it also gives the team just a touch of breathing room in what has been a whirlwind affair ever since the team announced it was relocating back to Southern California in early January. The impact from the transitions the Rams have endured during the past eight months cannot be underestimated.

Ram Head Coach Jeff Fisher commented when the team just moved into their new training facilities at Cal Lutheran University: "As the players came through today... They're excited about it... there's more space than what we had in St. Louis. There's a newness to it, guys are excited about the fields, it flows well."

The Rams are going to need that flow as the second-guessing and expectations of winning are already permeating the local sports media talk shows, broadcasts and streams before the first whistle of the season has been blown.

One thing is for certain: whether top draft pick Jared Goff was going to be the season's starting quarterback was decided a while ago when Fisher gave Case Keenum the keys to the car. And he's been driving ever since.

Keenum was kept out of the game in the Rams' preseason loss on Thursday, September 1, to the Minnesota Vikings 27-25. The team finished the preseason 2-2 having won the first two games at home before losing the last two on the road.

The attention is now clearly on who is going to make the final roster. Nothing was set in stone a week prior to the opener.

"We have numbers that are unusual, that we have not had at a number of positions, receivers, offensive line, secondary. Again, it falls under that same category. If you were to assume that this is the group we're going to San Francisco with, it would be incorrect," said Fisher.

2016 Rams current unofficial depth chart with uniform numbers:

Offense: Wide Receiver - 18 Kenny Britt, 15 Bradley Marquez 10, Pharoh Cooper; Tight End - 46 Cory Harkey, 84 Temarrick Hemingway; Left Tackle - 73 Greg Robinson, 72 Pace Murphy; Left Guard 69 Cody Wichmann; Center - 61 Tim Barnes, 65 Demetrius Rhaney; Right Guard - 68 Jamon Brown, 64 Andrew Donnal; Right Tackle - 76 Rodger Saffold, 79 Rob Havenstein.

Tight End - 88 Lance Kendricks, 89 Tyler Higbee; Wide Receiver - 11 Tavon Austin, 83 Brian Quick, 13 Michael Thomas, 86 Nelson Spruce; Quarterback - 17 Case Keenum, 16 Jared Goff, 14 Sean Mannion; Halfback - 30 Todd Gurley, 23 Benny Cunningham, 39 Malcolm Brown, 34 Chase Reynolds.

Defense: Left Defensive End - 95 William Hayes, 93 Ethan Westbrooks, 96 Matt Longacre; Left Defensive Tackle - 99 Aaron Donald, 91 Dominique Easley; Right Defensive Tackle, 90 Michael Brockers, 92 Cam Thomas; Right Defensive End - 94 Robert Quinn 97, Eugene Sims.

Linebacker - 52 Alec Ogletree, 54 Bryce Hager, 59 Josh Forrest, 55 Nicholas Grigsby; Left Cornerback - 22 Trumaine Johnson, 32 Troy Hill; Middle Cornerback - 20 Lamarcus Joyner, 32 Troy Hill; Right Cornerback - 21 Coty Sensabaugh, 33 E.J. Gaines; Weak Safety - 26 Mark Barron, 58 Cory Littleton; Free Safety - 31 Maurice Alexander, 38 Cody Davis; Strong Safety - 25 T.J. McDonald.

Specialists: Punter - 6 Johnny Hekker; Kicker - 4 Greg Zuerlein; Holder - 6 Johnny Hekker; Long Snapper - 44 Jake McQuaide; Punt Returner - 11 Tavon Austin; Kick Returner - 23 Benny Cunningham, 11 Tavon Austin.

10-man practice squad: T Isaiah Battle, LB Brandon Chubb, DB Blake Countess, DE Morgan Fox, RB Aaron Green, DB Isaiah Johnson, DB Michael Jordan, RB Terrence Magee, WR Paul McRoberts and TE Bryce Williams.

Coaching Staff: Head Coach - Jeff Fisher; Assistant Head Coach - Dave McGinnis; Offensive Coordinator - Rob Boras; Special Teams Coordinator - John Fassel; Defensive Coordinator - Gregg Williams; Assistant Strength - J. Aggabao; Offensive Line - Paul Boudreau.

Linebackers - Frank Bush; Senior Defensive Assistant - Chuck Cecil; Assistant Offensive Line - Andy Dickerson; Defensive Backs - Brandon Fisher; Strength & Conditioning - Rock Gullickson; Wide Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator - Mike Groh; Quality Control/Defense - Jeff Imamura.

Tight Ends - John Lilly; Running Backs - Skip Peete; Assistant Defensive Line - Clyde Simmons; Assistant Wide Receivers - Kenan Smith; Quality Control/Offense - Barrett Trotter; Defensive Line - Mike Waufle, Quarterbacks - Chris Weinke; Defensive Backs - Dennard Wilson

The team announced team captains for the 2016 season: Hekker, Keenum, Gurley, Ogletree and Donald.

The tale of the tape between the Rams and 49ers reads: Rams posted a 7-9 record during 2015 and finished third in the NFC West. The 49ers went 5-11 and finished fourth in the NFC West. The Rams and 49ers split the 2015 series as each team won at home.

The Rams won 27-6 at home behind a 133-yard attack from running back Todd Gurley in Week 8. San Francisco snapped the Rams' three-game winning streak in Week 17, 19-16, in overtime at Levi's stadium.

The Rams franchise is 40-38 all-time in season openers. San Francisco holds a 66-64-3 advantage over Los Angeles in the series dating back to the 1950 season.

Los Angeles is going to rely heavily on its leaders from last season as the team intends to make the playoffs, a goal not realized since 2004. Keenum had an 87.7 rating at quarterback with the team in 2015. Gurley had 1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

George Laase

Ram offensive linemen #64 Andrew Donnel and #72 Pace Murphy

Tavon Austin had 52 receptions for 473 yards. He also led the team in punt returns. Kenny Britt had 36 receptions for 681 yards, an 18.9 average. Defensively Mark Barron had 135 total tackles while Aaron Donald registered 11 sacks for 59.5 yards.

2016 Los Angeles Rams NFL Schedule: Sept. 12 at San Francisco (Mon) 7:20 p.m.; Sept. 18 Seattle 1:05 p.m.; Sept. 25 at Tampa Bay 1:05 p.m.; Oct. 2 at Arizona 1:25 p.m.; Oct. 9 Buffalo 1:25 p.m. Oct. 16 at Detroit 10:00 a.m.; Oct. 23 New York Giants (London) 6:30 a.m.; BYE WEEK.

Nov. 6 Carolina 1:05 p.m.; Nov. 13 at New York Jets 10:00 a.m.; Nov. 20 Miami 1:05 p.m.; Nov. 27 at New Orleans 10:00 a.m.; Dec. 4 at New England 10:00 a.m.; Dec. 11 Atlanta 1:25 p.m.; Dec. 15 at Seattle (Thur) 5:25 p.m.; Dec. 24 San Francisco (Sat) 1:25 p.m.; Jan. 1 Arizona 1:25 p.m.

 

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