Rams Travel to Charlotte for Season Opener Against Panthers

The Los Angeles Rams announced a major contract extension with starting quarterback Jared Goff this Tuesday, Sept. 3. Both sides agreed to a four-year $134 million extension through the 2023 season. With the Rams exercising a fifth-year option back in April on the NFL's 2016 top draft pick, Goff will be under contract through 2024.

Goff, who helped lead the Rams to last season's Super Bowl, will earn $110 million guaranteed spread out over the next four years, establishing a new NFL record for guaranteed contracts. It is reminiscent of last year when the Rams signed defensive tackle Aaron Donald to a $135 million 6-year extension with $87 million guaranteed just before the season began.

The Rams are now preparing to open the 2019 season against the Carolina Panthers this Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Nine of last season's 11 offensive starters are returning with center Brian Allen and left guard Joe Noteboom the only newcomers. Defensively, off-season acquisitions: linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Eric Weddle are among the new starters for the Rams.

Second-year nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and fifth-year linebacker Bryce Hager have also moved into the starting lineup. They replaced last year's starters Ndamukong Suh and Mark Barron respectively.

"What I like about this roster is a nice mix of veteran players that may be on their third, fourth contracts, but have a lot of wisdom, experience and want to be a part of something special," said Snead. "You got a lot of guys in their prime and a lot of guys that are young, that are going to help us in areas and you never know when."

Until Tuesday the biggest news of the week was the 53-player roster finalized by Rams general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay. The team had a fortunate problem of having too many quality players trying to make the final cut. According to Snead and McVay it was very difficult to cut players such as defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers.

Franklin-Myers, a fourth round Rams pick in the 2018 Draft, played in all 16 regular season games for the Rams last year and all three NFL Playoff games. The New York Jets have already claimed him.

"That was a very difficult decision for Les, for myself, and really, for our organization. We're very thankful for John and what he's done and couldn't have handled it with more class and we're appreciative of that," said McVay.

A few good reasons why Franklin-Myers was cut is due to the health of defensive end Morgan Fox and a strong preseason from defensive tackle Tanzel Smart. Outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and linebacker Natrez Patrick have also impressed the staff enough for the Rams to allow Franklin-Myers to walk away.

"Even though we were aware that he could rush the passer a little bit, we had talked about letting him get some reps. Because of those injuries, he goes and gets a shot rushing the passer," said McVay about Patrick. "Then went to a Chargers practice and really flashed... He took advantage of every opportunity that he got, starting in OTAs with John Fassel."

The Carolina Panthers, led by head coach Ron Rivera, finished tied for second in the NFC South last season after having made the Playoffs in 2017 with an 11-5 record. They started off strong last season, winning six of their first eight before losing seven consecutive games. The key to the Panthers' success since 2011 has been the health of quarterback Cam Newton, the NFL's 2015 MVP.

Unfortunately, Newton was deactivated for the Panthers' last two games last season due to a nagging shoulder injury. His throwing shoulder was surgically repaired in March 2017. Newton also had right shoulder surgery in January of this year. Just this preseason he has been dealing with a foot sprain but was given the okay on Monday to start against the Rams on Sunday.

The Rams projected defensive starters against the Panthers: DE Michael Brockers, NT Sebastian Joseph-Day, DT Aaron Donald, LB/DL Dante Fowler, OLB Clay Matthews, ILB Cory Littleton, ILB Bryce Hager, CB Marcus Peters, CB Aqib Talib, SS John Johnson and FS Eric Weddle.

Offensive starters: WR Cooper Kupp, TE Tyler Higbee, LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Joe Noteboom, C Brian Allen, RG Austin Blythe, RT Rob Havenstein, WR Brandin Cooks, WR Robert Woods, QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley. Johnny Hekker is the punter, Greg Zuerlein the kicker and Jake McQuaide, the long snapper.

The Rams have won the NFC West Division for the past two seasons, have won both opening season games and have a 24-8 combined record under Coach McVay. The Rams will host the New Orleans Saints in their home season opener next Sunday, September 15, in the newly refurbished L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

"I think there's an urgency that you can feel, said McVay in preparation for the Panthers. "I think our guys have done a great job of having that singular focus on just producing in the present. That's what we'll continue to do and hopefully it will lead to a good performance starting off the season on Sunday."


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