The Los Angeles Rams are set to kick off the 2023 season with a road matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The last time we saw these teams face each other was in Week 18 of the 2022 season, which ended with the Seahawks winning in overtime by a score of 19-16.
Entering this season, the Rams and the Seahawks have completely different expectations. The Seahawks will enter Sunday’s divisional showdown as nearly touchdown favorites, likely due to the Rams relying on a slew of inexperienced players on both sides of the ball.
Ahead of Sunday’s season opener versus the Seahawks, here are six players on the Rams to keep an eye on.
RB Cam Akers
It was a stellar finish to the season for Cam Akers in 2022 as he posted 512 rushing yards and six touchdowns in the final six weeks. Akers figures to begin this season as the lead back for the Rams, but there isn’t a guarantee he will continue to handle a large workload if he struggles out of the gate.
In his two meetings against the Seahawks last season, Akers combined for 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 38 attempts. With Cooper Kupp sidelined for the Rams in Week 1, Akers could be relied on a bit more to prevent the offense from becoming predictable against an opponent that is familiar with what they want to do offensively.
WR Tutu Atwell
Kupp has been ruled out for Week 1, which means the Rams will turn to the likes of Van Jefferson, Tyler Higbee, and Tutu Atwell in the passing game. Of those three names, Atwell is the player who is at risk of seeing his role decline early in the season if he’s unable to show consistency.
The third-year wideout has shown an ability to be a vertical threat, but the Rams would prefer to see more from him than that. Rookie Puka Nacua could also garner a role in the offense sooner rather than later — especially with Kupp sidelined — so Atwell needs to start the season fast as he expects to handle more snaps against the Seahawks.
OT Alaric Jackson
The Rams haven’t officially announced who will start along their offensive line, but all signs point toward Alaric Jackson being the left tackle in Week 1. Jackson is set to replace Joe Noteboom, who is recovering from a torn Achilles a season ago and is uncertain to have a starting role to begin the season.
Jackson looked solid in 2022 before his season ended prematurely because of blood clots. To begin this season, Jackson will be tasked with blocking Uchenna Nwosu, who just received a three-year, $45 million contract from the Seahawks this offseason following a career-best 9.5 sack output in 2022.
DL Kobie Turner
Outside of Aaron Donald, the Rams don’t have a definitive defensive lineman or outside linebacker that can generate consistent pressure — at least yet. While the Rams certainly need more production off of the edge, it would be beneficial if someone like rookie Kobie Turner could provide the team with pressure in the interior.
Turner was selected in the third round of this year’s draft and he’s expected to make an impact at some point in his rookie campaign. It would be a pleasant sight for the Rams to see Turner have success against a young offensive line unit of the Seahawks in Week 1.
OLB Byron Young
Another rookie that the Rams are hoping makes an immediate impact in the front seven is Byron Young. Young was also a third-round pick by the Rams and he’ll be heading a new-look edge rusher group that no longer features Leonard Floyd.
The rookie pass rusher out of Tennessee is slated to start with Michael Hoecht on the edge, allowing him to carve out an expansive role in a defense that has a handful of young players. The Rams got little to no production from their edge rushers not named Floyd in 2022, and they’ll need someone to step up alongside Donald to prevent Geno Smith from having all day to survey the field.
CB Cobie Durant
The Seahawks boast one of the best wide receiver rooms in the NFL upon taking Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first round of this year’s draft. While Smith-Njigba has a chance to play despite dealing with a wrist injury, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are the primary targets in Seattle’s aerial attack.
Jalen Ramsey is no longer the No. 1 cornerback for the Rams as second-year player Cobie Durant will now lead the cornerback group. Durant impressed with five pass breakups, three interceptions, and a league-best 151 interceptions yards in 2022. The fourth-round pick from a season ago has a chance to prove he can be a reliable starter immediately against a talented trio of wide receivers.