What we learned from Rams’ exhibition loss to the Denver Broncos

Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22) breaks up a pass intended for Broncos receiver Cody Latimer on Saturday night.
(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

What we learned from the Rams’ 17-9 loss to the Denver Broncos:

The Rams are keeping Tavon Austin under wraps

Hours after announcing a four-year contract extension for Tavon Austin, the wide receiver was all but invisible again. He was targeted once and did not have a reception.

That is keeping with the trend of the exhibition season.

Austin, the eighth pick in the 2013 draft, last season caught a career-best 52 passes and scored 10 touchdowns after receptions, on carries and on a punt return.


Offensive coordinator Rob Boras will probably deploy Austin from all points and get the ball into his hands when the games start to count.

So check back Sept. 12 when the Rams play the San Francisco 49ers on “Monday Night Football.”

Case Keenum is tough

Denver linebacker Von Miller sacked quarterback Case Keenum on the Rams’ first possession, and cornerback Aqib Talib drilled Keenum as he ran out of bounds in the second quarter.

Keenum bounced up from both hits and played a third consecutive exhibition game without an interception or fumble.

Still, it would probably behoove Keenum to slide next time he scrambles into a situation that invites a violent hit.


Third down remains an issue

We understand it’s the exhibition season and multiple quarterbacks are playing with various offensive line combinations, but the Rams converted only two of 15 third downs against the Broncos. They are eight for 33 in three preseason games.

Yes, running back Todd Gurley did not play in two of those – including Saturday night – but the absence of a true go-to receiver is obvious.

Robert Quinn admires Von Miller

After playing in his first game since undergoing back surgery, Rams defensive end Robert Quinn had Denver All-Pro linebacker Von Miller sign a Broncos jersey.

Quinn only played briefly, but the two-time Pro Bowl end made a tackle for a loss. His presence in the lineup and his performance on the field portends well for a defensive line that wants to be considered elite.


Miller had two tackles, including a sack.

Jared Goff can avoid turnovers

Rookie quarterback Jared Goff eliminated the early mistakes that plagued him in the first two exhibition games.

For the first time, he got through his first series without an interception or fumble.

He got lucky later in the first half when Broncos safety Darian Stewart jumped a route and dropped the ball before taking off for what would have been a pick six.

Goff completed only four of 12 passes for 45 yards but receivers once again dropped multiple passes.

Trumaine Johnson is a playmaker


We knew that based on the seven passes the cornerback intercepted last season and the Rams’ decision to put the franchise tag on him.

But we hadn’t seen much evidence in the first two preseason games. Against Kansas City, Johnson got beat for a long gain.

But Johnson, who is earning about $14 million this season, showed his skills against the Broncos when he left his feet to break up a pass by quarterback Trevor Siemian and batted it to safety Cody Davis for an interception.

Brian Quick responded to a challenge

During the week, Coach Jeff Fisher all but dared veteran receiver Brian Quick to continue dropping passes.

The fifth-year pro was targeted three times against the Broncos and caught the ball each time.


That might not seem like a huge achievement for a receiver who signed a one-year, $1.75-million “prove-it” contract, but it had to be a confidence boost for Quick.

Greg Zuerlein is kicking with confidence

After not attempting a field goal in the first two exhibitions, kicker Greg Zuerlein converted from 29, 38 and 48 yards against the Broncos.

Zuerlein is coming off a 20-for-30 performance in 2015, and questions about whether the Rams were wise to re-sign him.

So far, he has made all of his extra-point kicks and field-goal attempts.

Twitter: @LATimesklein