Rams-Browns Five Things to Watch

Jake Long (USA TODAY Sports)

ST. LOUIS — The Rams will visit the Browns on Saturday night for their third preseason game and their first on the road this preseason. Here are five things I’ll be watching for.

• Starting offensive line

We’re hopefully going to finally get a chance to see the expected starting offensive line work together in the preseason.

Left tackle Jake Long is expected to make his preseason debut. So too is right guard Rodger Saffold, who has missed time this preseason with a shoulder injury. Long and Saffold will join up with center Scott Wells, right tackle Joe Barksdale and rookie left guard Greg Robinson to give us a glimpse of what the line will look like at the start of the regular season.

Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick, could be his own topic here. He’s had some ups and downs in the first two preseason games while playing both left guard and left tackle. He has allowed a sack in each of the first two games, but should benefit from getting Long back at the left tackle spot.

Fisher said this week that Robinson will get some time at left tackle after Long comes out of the game. It’s all part of the learning process for the big rookie, who played left tackle the past two years at Auburn.

Sam Bradford

Bradford’s preseason debut against the Packers a week ago was a successful one.

He completed 75 percent of his passes for 101 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a QB rating of 127.4. He also took a big hit on a sack by Julius Peppers and survived.

Bradford only played two series against Green Bay but should see more action against the Browns. The Cleveland defense should be a good challenge for the Rams quarterback and the team’s passing game.

Zac Stacy

So far this preseason Stacy has carried 10 times for a total of 28 yards.

That average of 2.8 yards per carry isn’t pretty, of course, but the second-year running back out of Vanderbilt has yet to have a chance to run behind the Rams’ expected starting offensive line group.

Stacy proved himself during a rookie season that fell just short of the 1,000-yard mark despite only playing in 14 games and he figures to get plenty of work this fall.

• Secondary

Like the offensive line, the Rams should have their starting secondary together for the first time this preseason.

St. Louis held cornerback Janoris Jenkins out of action against the Packers and both starting corners, Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, were not in the lineup against the Saints in the preseason opener.

The Browns’ top two quarterbacks, starter Brian Hoyer and backup Johnny Manziel, have both struggled so far this preseason. Hoyer has completed 40 percent of his passes for 108 yards and a 57.9 QB rating. Manziel has completed 51.9 percent for 128 yards and one touchdown and a 77.4 quarterback rating.

The Rams’ starting secondary should have success against that duo. If not, it doesn’t bode well going into the regular season considering that the back four are the weak spot of what could be a very good defense.

Garrett Gilbert vs. Austin Davis

The battle for the third quarterback spot hasn’t been as interesting as I’d hoped as both Gilbert and Davis have failed to impress much.

Gilbert, the rookie sixth-rounder from SMU, has completed 52.9 percent of his passes for 85 yards and a QB rating of 67.0. Davis has been better by the numbers — 59.1 percent completion rate, 174 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, 99.4 rating — but not very impressive either.

The competition here isn’t only for that third quarterback spot behind Bradford and Shaun Hill but also for a spot on the 53-man regular season roster. If neither impress enough, the Rams could cut both and keep another player at a different position.

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com

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