Backups to play in Rams-Raiders game with L.A. seeking backs

Backups to play in Rams-Raiders game with L.A. seeking backs

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The Rams spent two days this week practicing and fighting with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Will the punch-fest spill over to the preseason game Saturday between the teams at SoFi Stadium?

Not likely.

Rams coach Sean McVay is not playing starters and important backups during preseason games. Raiders coach Jon Gruden is expected to do the same.

That means Rams defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day and Raiders offensive lineman Richie Incognito — who tangled Wednesday — and other starters on both teams will not renew their acquaintance.

And the last thing rookies, undrafted free agents and other players trying to make an NFL team need is an excuse for coaches to cut them for not keeping their poise.

Rosters much be trimmed to 80 players by Tuesday. The Rams will play a final preseason game against the Denver Broncos on Aug. 28, and rosters will be cut to 53 players by Aug. 31.

Star defensive tackle Aaron Donald won’t play Saturday, but he anticipates a lively performance by Rams teammates.

“A lot of the guys who are going to be playing are going to be amped up,” he said, “Because they got to put things on film, still guys trying to make the team and get a job.”

A focus for the Rams will remain on trying to identify a running back who can possibly back up Darrell Henderson.

In a 13-6 defeat to the Chargers, Rams running backs rushed for only 47 yards. Afterward, McVay described the rushing performance as “sloppy.”

Xavier Jones carried seven times for 21 yards. Raymond Calais gained 14 yards in seven carries and Jake Funk rushed for 12 yards in five carries.

Quarterback Bryce Perkins led the Rams with 23 yards rushing, including a highlight-reel hurdle over a Chargers player. Perkins and Devlin Hodges will again split snaps at quarterback.

Rookie receiver Tutu Atwell and linebacker Ernest Jones will have more opportunities to demonstrate if they are ready for prominent roles. The Rams also are aiming to improve communication on defense and refine the kicking and return games.

“I want to also see guys go out there and compete to their best ability,” McVay said. “No fear in failure.”

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