In the second preseason game, there is a sense of urgency among the players who are in a deep and competitive battle for a position. These battles dictate the overall positional rankings within a team roster, a roster soon to be cut from 90 to 75 men. The preseason games help the coaches and the personnel men make the proper decisions on which players are a perfect scheme fit and can help an organization win a division championship and get to the Super Bowl.
When it comes to in-state or long standing NFL rivals, the intensity heats up just a little bit and today the Rams and the Chiefs will battle for the Governor’s Cup. The series history between these two storied franchises dates back to 1973, when the Rams were located in Los Angeles. The Governor’s Cup was established in 1995 when the Rams moved to St. Louis. The winner of this game retains possession of the cup for one year until the next game is played.
As a former personnel man, this game means much more than the battle for a cup, it’s the turnstile for which players ascend or descend on the depth chart and earn a spot on the final roster.
The following are a few of the battles that I find intriguing:
Rams Offensive Line vs. Chiefs front seven
The Rams spent a lot of time this past week playing musical chairs among the big men up front, working several combinations and trying out several players at multiple positions. The tackle positions are set with (LT) Roger Saffold and (RT) Barry Richardson, at guards (RG) Quinn Ojinnaka and (LG) Harvey Dahl. At center, Scott Wells (still rehabbing right knee) has given way to back-up Robert Turner, who is getting some very valuable experience. Look for an early rotation from rookie Rok Watkins at both guard positions, he has really come on the last week and practiced very well.
The Rams offensive line is still a work in progress and they will have their hands full with a talented Chiefs’ defensive front. The Kansas City Chiefs organization has assembled a great combination of girth, athletic skill set and speed. They have the ability to pressure the pocket with defensive ends Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey. Nose tackle Anthony Toribio and outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, who is lighting in a bottle, will be the first true test for the Rams’ tackles off the edge tonight. The bell cow for the Chiefs’ defense is middle linebacker Derrick Johnson. He is a very good athlete, he has speed laterally, natural blitz skills and awareness in space when in coverage.
The other phase of the game most interesting to me is the clash of the special teams units. Can the young Rams coverage units corral the exceptional speed of the dynamic duo return men in Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas.?
Tonight is a true test from a potential playoff team in the Kansas Chiefs.