Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh makes the most of his short time on the field

Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh watches practice during training camp at UC Irvine on Aug. 13.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

It was only a seven-play appearance, but new Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh made the most of his opportunity Saturday in the Rams’ 21-20 victory over the Houston Texans at the Coliseum.

Suh, who signed a one-year $14-million contract, had talked of wanting to hit a quarterback before the regular season began.

He got his chance in the second series when Houston’s Deshaun Watson dropped back and prepared to deliver a long pass. The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh closed in and then hit Watson — “cleanly in the chest” Suh said — leading to an interception by safety Lamarcus Joyner.

“To be able to hit the quarterback, get after the running back, definitely enjoyable,” Suh said.


Making a run

As John Kelly fights for a roster spot, he knows how to earn his coaches’ trust.

“Whenever I get out there, just try to take advantage of every opportunity,” he said.

Those opportunities have come for Kelly, the Rams’ sixth-round draft pick. Starter Todd Gurley is not playing, backup Malcolm Brown has played only a few series, and second-year pro Justin Davis has been sidelined two games because of a hamstring injury.


Kelly rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown in his first two games. On Saturday, he rushed for 64 yards and two touchdowns in 15 carries, including a 15-yard scoring run.

But is it enough to make the team?

“I think he’s certainly making a case,” coach Sean McVay said. “Good runner, good, confident player. He’s just got good play-energy. He brings guys up around him where guys get excited playing around him.”

Standing his ground

There he was — Jadeveon Clowney. Standing right in front of rookie offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom.

“It was kind of surreal,” Noteboom said. “I’ve only seen him on TV, so to see him and know that I’m actually going against him is kind of a starstruck moment, almost.”

The Rams’ third-round pick from Texas Christian used his awe as inspiration in another start at left tackle. He was spared a confrontation with J.J. Watt, and some of the pressure of protecting quarterback Jared Goff, who did not play.

But he still had to keep Clowney away from backup Sean Mannion’s blindside.


Noteboom held his own, a source of encouragement as the regular season approaches.

“I guess it was like, if I can block this guy, then I belong here,” Noteboom said. “So him being that good was kind of motivating me to see if I could do well against him.”

Making his mark

After being sidelined for nearly all of the last two seasons because of concussions, new cornerback Sam Shields made an impression, intercepting Brandon Weeden’s short pass in the first quarter.

While Shields has adjusted to daily hits, he knows more severe collisions could come.

“What if I do get hit again and get a headache?” Shields said. “Will it be the concussion, or just a headache?

“I got to go through that with, just in my mind-set. But I think I’m good. I’ve got a lot of confidence. I will still play fast.”



Mannion completed 11 of 17 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, with an interception…. Middle linebacker Cory Littleton called defensive signals for the first time…. Veteran Matt Longacre, who is coming off back surgery and was nursing a biceps injury, started at outside linebacker and had a sack…. Rookie linebacker Micah Kiser had a team-best seven tackles.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

Staff writer Blake Richardson contributed to this report

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