Rams who must deliver and Dolphins to watch out for

RAMS WHO MUST DELIVER...

Center Tim Barnes. With rookie Jared Goff making his debut, the onus falls on Barnes to keep the No. 1 overall pick in the draft calm and protect him from hits coming up the middle. That won’t be easy: Barnes has been dealing with a foot injury and the Miami defensive line features tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Defensive tackle Michael Brockers. Miami running back Jay Ajayi is adept at breaking through the line of scrimmage and then making defenders miss tackles. Brockers must help prevent Ajayi from getting into one-on-one matchups with linebackers and defensive backs. He does not necessarily need to bring Ajayi down, but he must slow or detour him for others.

Receiver Tavon Austin. He has been targeted a team-high 74 times but has only 39 catches and has yet to break out. The change from Keenum to the taller Goff could provide Austin with more opportunities for success on crossing routes.

DOLPHINS TO WATCH OUT FOR…

Linebacker Kiko Alonso. He was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia before the season and has become Miami’s leading tackler. Last week against San Diego, he intercepted a pass with just over a minute remaining and returned it 60 yards for the deciding touchdown.

Receiver Kenny Stills. He has only 19 catches, which is significantly fewer than Jarvis Landry and DeVonte Parker. Stills, however, has a team-best four touchdown catches. They don’t come in bunches. He had one against New England, Cincinnati, Buffalo and last week against San Diego. 

Running back Damien Williams. Fellow running back Jay Ajayi deservedly gets most of the attention, what with consecutive 200-yard rushing efforts earlier this season. But Williams, an undrafted free agent in 2014, has been an effective weapon as well. Williams has rushed for three touchdowns. He also has two touchdown receptions.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

 

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