Sean McVay: Rams starters likely to see limited preseason action

Ask any coach  who won a preseason game and they’ll tell you the team that didn’t suffer any injuries.

Despite the scoreboard reading 33-7 in favor of the Baltimore Ravens, the Los Angeles Rams came away from the Thursday night preseason opener a winner.

Head coach Sean McVay stuck to his game plan and sat all 22 starters in hopes of carrying a healthy roster at least one more week, something several teams around the league like the Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts wished they could boast. McVay said during a conference call Friday afternoon the Rams came away with no significant injuries, but they are waiting to hear test results on wide receiver Josh Reynolds‘ ankle and cornerback Kevin Peterson‘s knee.

With that in mind, McVay was questioned whether it would be possible starters would not see a single snap during the course of the preseason. The 32-year-old said it was unlikely they would receive no playing time, but couldn’t completely rule it out.

“You don’t want to play scared but you want to balance doing it in a smart way,” McVay said. “There’s going to be good dialogue within our coaching staff on how we want to approach the next week.”

The Rams face an awkward situation ahead of taking on the Oakland Raiders in the second week of the preseason Saturday, August 18. LA and Oakland will also square off in the regular season opener just three weeks later, which McVay said will impact his decision heading into PWK2.

“It’s not out of the question how we would approach the Oakland game,” McVay said about holding starters out again. “You get a better feel as you accumulate the experience.”

While none of the starting 22 were on the field, the Rams did have a plethora of players see action Thursday. After having a night to review the tape, the second-year head coach said while he was overall pleased, they would need to return to the basics moving forward in practice. After signaling out running backs Justin Davis and John Kelly, along with rookie lineman Joseph Noteboom as the offensive standouts, McVay centered his critiques on this unit.

“Performing some of the elementary, fundamental techniques that lead to good football,” McVay emphasized would be areas of focus in practice heading into next week. “On offense, let’s use the right protection calls, make sure we’re going to the right people and let’s throw and catch. Just executing where it’s sound, crisp football is what you’re going to see.”

Backup quarterback Sean Mannion is one of many who will need to apply these principles. The fourth-year slinger got the start and completed only three of 13 passes for 16 yards, with an interception. He was also sacked twice and had several passes deflected at the line of scrimmage. It’s necessary to note Mannion was playing without a single starter, but even his play caller noticed something off about his approach.

“Sean made some throws and did some things that were uncharacteristic of him… a perfect storm of things that didn’t work out for him,” McVay said.

Loaded with valuable teaching points and, more importantly, a full slate of health, McVay and the Rams will trade the L on the scoreboard with the moral W any week of the preseason.

The Rams will be back in action at the University of California, Irvine for open training camp Saturday at 3:00p.