What we learned in the Rams’ 24-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders

on Aug21

What we learned in the Rams’ 24-21 preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders:

Jared Goff is comfortable in Northern California

The Rams’ second-year quarterback looked like a seasoned veteran at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, where he said he played once during high school.

Goff completed 16 of 20 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions, in less than two quarters of work.

Goff shook off a couple of rough practice days last week and looked confident running the offense. He appeared to just miss on a pass into the end zone for Sammy Watkins, a defender knocking it away at the last moment.

The Rams would be thrilled if Goff plays that well in his next trip to the Bay Area — a Week 3 Thursday night game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Running back Todd Gurley can carry a load

On a night when Gurley showed flashes of his rookie form, his most impressive run was a nine-yard gain that called for him to carry nearly the entire Raiders defense.

Gurley took a handoff and disappeared under a group of black jerseys. But Gurley kept his legs moving and advanced the ball for a first down.

Gurley rushed for 38 yards in eight carries and scored a touchdown. He also caught a 12-yard pass.

Tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett need more blocking practice

Raiders end Khalil Mack is not easy to handle regardless of experience.

But second-year pro Higbee and rookie Gerald Everett appeared to let Mack get an easy shot at Goff for a sack.

Goff bounced up and completed a pass to Gurley on the next play.

Still, the Rams cannot let defenders get clean shots at Goff, especially someone such as Mack, the NFL’s 2016 defensive player of the year.

Sammy Watkins makes a difference just by being on the field

Watkins, playing in his first game for the Rams, was targeted four times and caught two short passes from Goff.

But the mere threat of Watkins requires defensive attention and opens the field for others.

Watkins was in the starting lineup along with Robert Woods and rookie Cooper Kupp.

Kupp was targeted seven times and caught six passes for 70 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown.

Woods caught two passes for 19 yards.

Josh Reynolds is a red-zone threat

The rookie receiver from Texas A&M scored the game-winning touchdown on a 20-yard pass from Sean Mannion.

Reynolds, the Rams’ tallest receiver at 6-foot-3, beat a defender in the end zone. Immediately afterward, he remained composed as if he had scored 100 touchdowns in the NFL

That was Reynolds’ first.

Trumaine Johnson is motivated to prove his worth

The Rams decided not to give the veteran cornerback an extension, so he is playing the season under the franchise tag and then will hit the open market.

Johnson intercepted two passes by Goff during practice last week before picking off a pass by Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. The play set up the Rams’ second touchdown.

Johnson has looked more like the player who intercepted seven passes in 2015, not the one who had only one interception last season.

Ball-security drills might really work

After the Rams fumbled five times against the Dallas Cowboys, coach Sean McVay put the Rams through ball-security drills in every practice last week.

The emphasis paid dividends: the Rams fumbled only once against the Raiders and did not lose the ball.

We’ll learn more when Rams play the Chargers

The offense is making strides, but it has been difficult to get a true read on the new 3-4 defense because lineman Aaron Donald is a holdout over a contract dispute and other starters have been held out.

Linebackers Robert Quinn and Mark Barron as well as cornerback Kayvon Webster did not play in the first two preseason games. Cornerbacks Nickell Robey-Coleman and Mike Jordan were held out against the Raiders.

Saturday’s game at the Coliseum offers what is generally regarded as the final chance for starters to get work because coaches loathe exposing them to potential injury in the fourth preseason game.


Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

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