It's officially the first week of the NFL preseason as every team in the league will have an exhibition game this week. The Los Angeles Rams will kick off their preseason schedule versus the Los Angeles Chargers, the team they share SoFi Stadium with.
This will be the first time the Rams will take the field since defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl back in February. That being said, Sean McVay has avoided having starters play in the preseason, so backups and other players will have opportunities to showcase their talent.
Ahead of Saturday's preseason contest against the Chargers, here are five players to watch on the Rams.
WR Tutu Atwell
All eyes will be on Tutu Atwell entering the 2022 season, especially as he enters his second year in the NFL. Atwell finished his rookie season with zero statistics on the offensive side of the ball despite being the team's second-round selection in the 2021 NFL draft.
After his disappointing rookie campaign was cut short due to an injury, Atwell has been turning heads in training camp and the team's offseason activities thus far. And with Van Jefferson recovering from recent knee surgery, Atwell could be asked to handle an expanded role in the offense.
Look for the Rams to find various ways to get Atwell involved in Saturday's preseason opener against the Chargers on offense and in the return game.
QB Bryce Perkins
There isn't a quarterback competition being held on the Rams, with Matthew Stafford entering his second season on the roster. Behind Stafford, though, Los Angeles wants to get a more precise look at the other signal-callers.
John Wolford has experience as a backup for the Rams in recent seasons, however, Bryce Perkins is competing to remain the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart. Perkins impressed as a rookie in preseason last year, especially with his ability to use his legs to create plays, but Luis Perez has returned to the team and is hoping to earn a roster spot.
Considering how McVay has divvied up the snaps for quarterbacks in previous preseasons, Perkins and Perez will likely see most of the snaps. A strong showing from Perkins could increase his chances of earning a roster spot or remaining on the practice squad.
OLB Daniel Hardy
One of the most notable developments from the first unofficial depth chart that the Rams released was Daniel Hardy being ahead of Terrell Lewis. Unofficial depth charts should be taken with a grain of salt, but it's still impressive to see Hardy higher up on the depth chart off of the edge.
Hardy was one of three seventh-round picks that the Rams made in the 2022 NFL draft. The Montana State product concluded his collegiate career with an eye-opening 16.5 sacks in 2021 and he's hoping to bring that level of production to Los Angeles.
Following the departure of Von Miller in free agency, the Rams need other edge rushers to aid Leonard Floyd and Justin Hollins. While Hardy will have to continue proving he can contribute immediately, the fact that McVay name-dropped Hardy as a player he's anxious to see in the preseason certainly helps his case.
CB Decobie Durant
Another position that will look a bit different for the Rams in 2022 is the cornerback position. Darious Williams is no longer the No. 2 cornerback alongside Jalen Ramsey after he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency.
Besides trading for - and reuniting with Troy Hill - the Rams took cornerbacks Decobie Durant and Derion Kendrick in this year's draft. Durant was the 142nd overall pick in the fourth round out of South Carolina and he's drawing some buzz ahead of the regular season.
With the Rams revealing that Ramsey, Hill, David Long Jr., Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp, and Nick Scott won't suit up in the preseason, Durant will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his versatility in the secondary.
CB Derion Kendrick
Aside from Durant, Kendrick is the other rookie cornerback that the Rams are excited about entering the 2022 season. Kendrick, who started on the dominant Georgia defense that led the Bulldogs to a National Championship in 2021, finished his college career strong with four interceptions last year.
In this year's draft, the Rams selected Kendrick in the sixth round with the 212th overall pick. Even with Kendrick being a late-round selection, the first-year cornerback hasn't had a shortage of notable plays in training camp.
Once again, the Rams won't be playing their veteran defensive backs in the preseason, giving the younger guys a chance to get acclimated to the speed of the NFL. Ramsey, Hill, and Long appear to be the top three cornerbacks on the roster right now. Meanwhile, Kendrick could climb the depth chart with a strong performance in the preseason, beginning with Saturday's showdown with the Chargers.
Story originally appeared on Rams Wire