Preseason 2016: Last chance for ‘bubble’ players to prove themselves against the Minnesota Vikings

The Los Angeles Rams will play their final preseason game on the road against the Minnesota Vikings. This is an important game for general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher to evaluate since they will be trimming the roster down to 53 players shortly after the game. That said, there will be plenty to look out for Thursday night against the Vikings:

Last Goff watch?

It will likely be the last in-game action for rookie quarterback Jared Goff, at least for a while. Case Keenum never lost his starting role, and it was never threatened. It’s clear that Goff needs some developing, and more time with quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke would be good for him. It isn’t certain if Goff will start at some point this season, but if you want to check out the Rams’ investment on the field, this week may be the last time this year. The Vikings do have a solid defensive unit, and they will serve as yet another test for Goff.

This doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of Goff. The Rams are in Los Angeles which means the Paparazzi will be following him everywhere. Plus, social media hijinks are likely to happen at some point during the season.

Who will claim the last running back spot?

Who would have thought running back would be an intense position battle? So the top three spots are likely going to be Todd Gurley, Benny Cunningham and Malcolm Brown. This leaves us with Chase Reynolds, Aaron Green and Terrence Magee; all of which have done pretty well. Green in particular has been impressive, but do the Rams want to carry this many young running backs on the roster? Reynolds has the most experience of the bunch, but has been limited to special teams. Magee really only had that one impressive 73-yard run against the Denver Broncos. Either way, if one of those guys explode against the Vikings, they may earn themselves the final spot on the roster.

Catch the dang ball! Please?

Wide receiver remains the top concern on the offense. The opportunities are there, but not many have stepped up. As mentioned last week, there are three vacant spots and yet still too many dropped passes and missed opportunities. It appeared that Brian Quick may be out of a job, but the Rams may be forced to stick with him. Only Marquez North was cut from the roster this week, which means if a couple of receivers step up against the Viking’s secondary, there’s a good chance of them making the roster. This will also depend if the offense can maintain decent time of possession and eliminate turnovers.

Starting secondary improvement

Cornerback E.J. Gaines will be out this week, so Coty Sensabaugh or Lamarcus Joyner will need to step up. Last week it appeared the defense improved against the Broncos, but they are more of a running team. The Rams defense should have dominated their aerial assault, but did a sufficient enough job. This week they are playing the Vikings’ offense without starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and will compete against a familiar face in Shaun Hill instead. The Rams need to dominate the passing game. If Hill produces big numbers, the Rams’ secondary may be a bigger issue than initially thought.

Injury watch

The final game of the preseason is always the most concerning since the starters take more snaps. Winning is great, but it’s important to realize that this is just an exhibition game. No need to push the starters to the point of losing them for a few games or possibly the season. I’d even be ok if Fisher decides to bench Gurley again. So far the injury bug has been minor. A few banged up players such as WR Nelson Spruce, WR Pharoh Cooper and CB Gaines; but still those injuries are pretty minor compared to the likes of QBs Tony Romo and Bridgewater. Let’s hope for an injury-free game this week.

You can follow Johnny Gomez on Twitter @Johnny5not6. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

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