Rams rest most of their starters in preseason loss to Chargers

LOS ANGELES -- Turns out the "Fight For L.A." wasn't nearly as important as the fight for good health.

The Los Angeles Rams sat the majority of their starters in their highly anticipated matchup against the neighboring Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night, for a third preseason game that is traditionally treated as a regular-season dress rehearsal.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosted an announced crowd of 58,561, though a rough guess at the number who actually showed up was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000. And the Rams suffered their first preseason loss by a 21-19 score. Backup kicker Travis Coons, who earlier hit from 53 yards, missed what would've been the go-ahead 33-yard field goal, and Dan Orlovsky, the third-string quarterback, couldn't stage a winning drive while backed up deep in his own territory.

Below is a look at what stood out.

QB depth chart: Jared Goff made a couple of key mistakes and thus ended his preseason on a sour note. On his first drive, Goff -- trying to build on a very encouraging performance seven days earlier in Oakland -- was stripped by Joey Bosa at the Chargers' 24-yard line, allowing Melvin Ingram to scoop up the football and return it 76 yards for a touchdown. On his second pass after that play, he threw his first preseason interception while overthrowing Sammy Watkins by a wide margin. Goff finished 5-of-8 for 56 yards. He made some impressive plays early, making a 16-yard connection with Robert Woods and showing great pocket awareness to find an open Malcolm Brown for what became a 22-yard gain. But Goff wasn't consistent, and that's what the Rams' coaches need to see from him. Backup Sean Mannion had another solid game, going 16-of-29 for 214 yards and a touchdown.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Rams looked ...: Sluggish. But very few of their starters actually suited up, particularly on defense. The only solidified defensive starters on the field were cornerback Trumaine Johnson and defensive back Lamarcus Joyner. On the Chargers' first series, the Rams allowed Travis Benjamin to beat them badly over the top for a 45-yard touchdown. On the Chargers' second offensive series, after Goff's interception, they gained 54 yards on nine plays, finishing their drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon. Woods had the most productive day for the Rams' first-team offense, with a couple of catches for 23 yards. The offensive line allowed a lot of pressure on Goff, but veterans Andrew Whitworth, Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan played only the first two series.

One reason to be concerned: First-year Rams coach Sean McVay chose to sit most of his starters, and now you have to wonder if they've built enough continuity for when games start to count. Nine starters were kept out, including running back Todd Gurley, slot receiver Cooper Kupp, nose tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Kayvon Webster, strong safety Maurice Alexander and all four of the starting linebackers: Robert Quinn, Mark Barron, Alec Ogletree and Connor Barwin. If you include Aaron Donald, who continues to hold out, 10 of the Rams' 21 solidified starters will have not played in a game in at least 22 days by the time the regular-season opener rolls around Sept. 10 (assuming no starters play in the preseason finale Thursday). Donald, Quinn, Barron, Webster and receiver Tavon Austin will finish the preseason without playing in any games.

Rookie watch: Josh Reynolds, a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M, impressed late in training camp and put on a show in one of the Rams' final drives of the third quarter. Reynolds caught a 16-yard pass across the middle and somehow held on after absorbing a vicious hit by Chargers safety Dexter McCoil, who drew an unnecessary-roughness flag. Three plays later, Reynolds beat Randall Evans over the top for a 38-yard touchdown catch.

That guy could start: Quarterback controversy, anyone? No, that is not the case right now. ... Seriously, it isn't. But give it up to Mannion, who has looked pretty sharp -- granted, against defensive backups -- throughout the preseason. In three games, Mannion has gone 49-of-76 for 490 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. "Sean did a nice job just commanding the huddle," McVay said. "He's gotten a lot of good work this preseason, and he's made a lot of plays."

Watkins watch: Watkins suited up and was one of the last starters who remained on the field, but did not catch a pass and wasn't really even targeted. Watkins caught two passes for 8 yards in his Rams debut last week.

Injury updates: Tight end Temarrick Hemingway got his rolled up on a running play and had to be carted off the field early in the second quarter. McVay did not have an update on his condition after the game. Hemingway projects as the third tight end on the Rams' depth chart, behind Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. If his injury is significant, it could open up a spot on the 53-man roster for a veteran like Cory Harkey. Right guard Jamon Brown tweaked his hamstring, prompting him to leave early. McVay said Brown would've stayed in the game had it been the regular season. He would've liked to have kept Brown out there with right tackle Rob Havenstein later in the game.