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W2W4 Revisited: St. Louis Rams

CLEVELAND -- Looking back at three things to watch from the St. Louis Rams' 33-14 win against the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night.

1. Returning starters

As expected, the Rams got projected starters back in the form of left tackle Jake Long, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, guard Rodger Saffold and cornerback Janoris Jenkins on Saturday. All four started against the Browns, but there were some hiccups along the way. Brockers, who was coming back from an ankle injury, played just 10 snaps before leaving with another ankle injury. Saffold had a similar experience in his return from a stinger in his left shoulder. He started and played 17 snaps at left guard before departing with a right ankle injury. Neither injury appeared serious after the game, but we'll know more after coach Jeff Fisher's 6:30 p.m. ET news conference. Long was able to stay on the field for two full series and said he felt good but was clearly rusty as he picked up a couple of penalties and struggled in pass protection on the opening drive. Jenkins appeared to hold up fine for his 19 plays.

2. A better idea

Coach Jeff Fisher made it a point to say he wanted to "stress" his team more in the third preseason game by adding some game planning and preparation for the game. Indeed, the Rams were a bit more open with their play-calling on both sides of the ball, and the results were good. Although it was clearly overshadowed by the rash of injuries that broke out in the first half, the Rams thoroughly dominated Cleveland regardless of which groups were on the field. Beyond the 19-point win, the Rams out gained the Browns 472 to 178 and had an impressive 12-of-19 third-down conversion rate. They averaged 8.3 yards per pass play, nearly twice as much as the 4.2 they allowed. Fisher said after the game that he'd like to get some of his starters more work in the preseason finale against Miami.

3. Running revival

In the first two preseason games, the Rams struggled to get the run game going on offense and stop it on defense. But they were able to give both a bit of a jolt Saturday night. Offensively, the Rams rushed for 142 yards on 34 attempts, an average of 4.2 yards per attempt. Benny Cunningham made a surprise start in place of Zac Stacy, a move Fisher said was based solely on the desire to get Cunningham some work with the first-team offensive line. Cunningham made the most of it with five carries for 32 yards. Stacy again couldn't find much room with five carries for 11 yards. Further down the depth chart, undrafted rookie Trey Watts outperformed third-round pick Tre Mason with his nine carries, 36 yards and a touchdown to Mason's 10 for 29 yards. Even more promising was the defense's improved tackling and run stopping, as that group held the Browns 15 carries for 32 yards, an average of 2.1 yards per attempt. Just like with the previous struggles, none of this is reason to get too high or too low, but it at least looked like progress.