“I walked in the locker room, I just had a really weird feeling,” said Rams running back Justin Davis.
Like wide receiver Robert Woods and defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman, Davis played for the USC Trojans before joining the Los Angeles Rams. His experience is unique, performing his last college home game and his first NFL game on the same field.
“I’ve been in this locker room I don’t know how many times before,” Davis said. “Just to see the different colors, got a different jersey waiting for me in my locker, definitely surreal.”
Davis got his share of touches and ultimately led the Rams in rushing in their preseason 13-10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday.
Rams quarterback Sean Mannion completed 18 passes for 144 yards; Davis made nine rushes for 70 yards, and wide receiver Cooper Kupp earned two catches for 35 yards. Cornerback Kevin Peterson made five solo tackles.
Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush made nine passes for 104 yards, running back Darren McFadden had six carries for 28 yards, and tight end Rico Gathers executed four catches for 47 yards. Safety Xavier Woods made six solo tackles.
Davis made his first play in the second quarter after Kupp recovered Wood’s fumble to score the Rams only touchdown. The score was in the Ram’s favor 7-3. Los Angeles was at the Cowboys’ 34-yard line and Davis carried the ball 16 yards, ushering Los Angeles into the red zone and a first down.
Davis carried the ball again, but fumbled; possession was given to Dallas. Despite the setback, Davis continued to rush the ball throughout the second quarter.
“I think he was clearly disappointed. That was a big time turnover that we had down in the red zone. But you can see the explosiveness that Justin (Davis) does have,” said head coach Sean McVay. “You can feel that he’s a great back with good explosion, good change of pace.”
In the Rams first offensive play for the second half, Davis carried the ball for 32 yards. It was one of nine plays leading kicker Greg Zuerlein to earn the Rams a field goal. The score was 10-3.
“I thought he ran really well and I think the best part of it was that he had that fumble and came back and kept running really, really well and that’s good to see,” said quarterback Jared Goff. “You want to have a guy with short memory like that and he did a good job.”
Both teams suffered from fumbles throughout the game with six coming in the first half. Dallas had four fumbles while Los Angeles had five. The Rams had six fumble recoveries, twice the amount of the Cowboys.
November 26, 2016 was the last time Davis competed in the L.A. Coliseum when USC beat Notre Dame 45-27. Davis completed 10 carries for 36 yards. He noted how NFL football presents a unique set of challenges.
“This isn’t college; I learned that really quickly. I got to change up my running game,” Davis said. “These guys in the league, they’re in the league for a reason, because they’re smaller than college, smarter, faster, stronger. It’s just a matter of me adjusting.”
The Rams battle the Oakland Raiders on Saturday, August 19 at the Oakland Coliseum.