Rams fall to the Chargers, 34-17, as Stetson Bennett shines in debut

The Rams enter this season with one of the youngest rosters in the league. For many of the players, it was their first-ever NFL game. 

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams kicked off the NFL preseason with a loss to the neighboring Los Angeles Chargers, 34-17, at SoFi Stadium on Saturday night. 

The Rams enter this season with one of the youngest rosters in the league. For many of the players, it was their first-ever NFL game. 

One such player was rookie quarterback Stetson Bennett, the Rams’ fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Georgia, who took the field in his NFL debut with roughly nine minutes left in the second quarter. 

Bennett had a few passes early that were nearly picked off but appeared to get more comfortable as the game progressed. 

“It’s the first NFL game that you’re playing in,” said Bennett. “You’re going to come in and be a little nervous, try to make a play when sometimes plays aren’t there, but then as (we) started (to get in) a groove, we started calling plays and you start to settle in.”

“I thought it was all right,” Bennett added. “I thought there was some bone-headed plays that I made. And I thought there were some good plays that I made.”

Bennett completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Puka Nacua on a 75-yard scoring drive.

Rams head coach Sean McVay was encouraged by what he saw in the rookie quarterback’s debut performance. 

“I thought he did a nice job,” McVay remarked. “There were some tough situations.” 

While Brett Rypien got the start at the quarterback position, Bennett is looking poised to back up Matthew Stafford for the season. He finished the game with 191 yards completing 17 of 29 passes and a touchdown. 

“I thought there was a lot of good opportunities for him to be able to learn from and you could see some of the things that excite us about him,” McVay said of Bennett. 

Another bright spot for the Rams was rookie cornerback Tre’Vius Tomlinson on the defensive side of the ball. Tomlinson, who is the nephew of Chargers legend and Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, had a few eye-catching plays. He broke up a near completion that was intended for his former TCU teammate, Quentin Johnson. 

“He’s a tough competitor that doesn’t have any fear and he’s not afraid to get up and challenge guys,” McVay said. “He’s just got a nice swagger about himself.”

There are still some unanswered questions for the Rams on both the offensive and defensive line with less than a month until the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 10. McVay stated that he is mindful that depth was a challenge the Rams faced last season and wants to allow the starters enough time to get into a rhythm before that time comes.