For the first time in 22 years, NFL Football is back in Los Angeles. The Rams kicked off their pre-season in front of 89,000 at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum as they played host to the Dallas Cowboys. It was only fitting that the spotlight for the Rams happened to be from the Pac-12. A number amount of players from the Pac-12 made their presence known in the game Saturday night. Starting Safety T.J. McDonald made his return to the L.A. Coliseum for the first time since his USC days.
McDonald and his secondary had a rough few series against the Cowboys. Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff, who spent his days at Cal, was a player many had their eye on. Goff was expected to play a half with the second team, but only lasted two series'. Although Goff struggled and had a pretty good hit laid on him by the Dallas blitzing linebackers, he’s expected to see some first team reps in next week’s game against the Chiefs. There were two players who brought a whole new meaning to the term “Pac-12 after Dark” during Saturday night’s game.
Sean Mannion and Nelson Spruce stole the show and amazed many watching the game. Sean Mannion has been overshadowed in the quarterback competition by Case Keenum and Jared Goff, but the former Oregon State quarterback made the most of his chances in the second half of the game by helping the Rams offense come to life.
Mannion completed 18-of-25 passes for 147 yards, threw for 3 touchdown passes, and was picked off once as he led the Rams in the comeback victory over Dallas. While Mannion’s job is likely safe due to the possibility of the Rams keeping 3 quarterback’s, Nelson Spruce might have played his way into the Rams plans Saturday night.
If you follow the Pac-12 last season then you’re familiar with Nelson Spruce’s play with Colorado. In his four years with the Buffalos, Spruce had totaled 294 receptions for 3,347 yards and 23 touchdown receptions, however, went undrafted after the 2016 draft. Saturday night, the world would see what Spruce was capable of as he made his case to make the 53 man roster. Nelson would basically catch everything in sight, even wowing the Coliseum by leaping catch that Sean Mannion threw too high. He would follow up by making a touchdown catch to trim the Cowboys lead in the fourth quarter. This led to the staff feeding Nelson with a handful of screen passes which he turned into positive yards.
The former Colorado Buffalo wide receiver ended his night with six receptions for 51 yards and had one touchdown pass. Although Spruce will likely miss one to two weeks with a knee injury, He, along with Sean Mannion, provided many with an early professional version of Pac-12 After Dark.