The Arizona Cardinals ran into a buzzsaw on Sunday afternoon. Unable to get anything going on either side of the ball, the Cardinals were defeated by the Los Angeles Rams 34-0. There’s about 26 players that deserve to be named in this article this week, but we’ll try to limit it as best we can. Here are the five stars of the game for the Rams in Week 2.
WR Brandin Cooks
Last week, Cooks probably had about 159 total yards if you included the pass interference penalties he drew. This week, he actually had 159 yards. Cooks has been quick to develop chemistry with Jared Goff and has been impressive during his first two games with the Rams. He did it all on Sunday, whether it was getting tough yards over the middle or catching deep balls on the outside. Cooks is everything the Rams had hoped for and then some. This won’t be another Sammy Watkins situation. Cooks is well on his way to producing a third consecutive 1,000 yard season.
RB Todd Gurley
What more can we even say about Gurley at this point? Even on a day where he struggled to make much happen on the ground, he still found the end zone three times! I’m not going to leave somebody out of this column when they score three touchdowns. Gurley produced when it mattered most. Fantasy owners can rejoice: Gurley’s production isn’t going anywhere.
SS John Johnson
I thought about just awarding the entire defense a star here, but that’s not as fun. The defense didn’t let the Cardinals do anything. They didn’t even cross midfield until the last 30 seconds of the game. Johnson’s performance was the stand out of the group as he led the unit in tackles and did a hell of a job containing tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. The Rams were torched by an unnamed tight end last week. This week proved that may have just been a fluke. Johnson stepped up big time defending both the run and the pass. He may be on his way to his first Pro Bowl.
KR/PR JoJo Natson
Newcomer JoJo Natson literally took the ball and ran with it on Sunday. Filling in for All-Pro return man Pharoh Cooper, Natson averaged an incredible 22.2 yards per punt return. His highlight of the day was a 60 yard return near the end of the second quarter. If Natson continues to play like he did on Sunday, he’ll secure himself a roster spot for the rest of the season. The Rams may have made a mistake cutting him this preseason.
P Johnny Hekker
How lucky are we to have Johnny Hekker? With Greg Zuerlein leaving with an injury during pregame warmups, Hekker stepped up and hit his first career field goal. He hit an extra point later on. The Rams didn’t miss a beat without two of their special teams stars.
But can we also just acknowledge how amazing of a punter Hekker is? Hekker has only had to punt the ball four times this year. Two of those punts pinned the opponent inside the 10. This week, Hekker had one touchback and one punt that pinned the Cardinals deep in their own territory. We take this guy for granted sometimes. It’s hard enough to get a first down on the Rams defense. Going 90 yards down the field on them is much easier said than done. Hekker is an absolute beast, plain and simple.
Honorable Mentions: QB Jared Goff, Everyone Else on the Defense