INGLEWOOD — In a Rams defensive secondary that held opponents to the fewest passing yards in the NFL last season, most players need no introduction.
The other one introduced himself to the world Sunday night in the Rams’ 34-14 victory over the Chicago Bears in the season-opener at SoFi Stadium.
David Long Jr., who’s replacing free-agent departure Troy Hill as the slot cornerback, turned a question mark into an exclamation point when he intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop the Bears’ opening drive.
“It was perfect timing,” said Long, a 2019 third-round draft pick from Michigan who was starting only his second NFL game, having played mostly on special teams. “It was great just to get that on the first drive, a momentum change.
“I think the biggest part was being able to step in there and make a play, especially on a team where you’ve got big names like Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald. Everybody’s trying to make a play.”
The interception, on third down at the Rams’ 8, came on an Andy Dalton pass tipped at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Kenny Young.
It was the first of the big defensive plays that ended drives in Rams territory on the Bears’ first three possessions, two on fourth-down plays.
Although Bears running back David Montgomery rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown, the Rams held Dalton to 208 yards and no touchdowns on 27 for 38 passing, with outside linebacker Justin Hollins recording two sacks in his first start and Donald getting one.
Ramsey called Long “unproven thus far.”
“(He) just hasn’t had a lot of experience playing in the NFL yet,” Ramsey said. “And he came out today and he popped us off with the first big (play).”
Long, who had five tackles and two pass breakups, said it was a good start.
“It’s something to build off,” he said. “Me, personally, there’s stuff to clean up, but it’s something to build off.”
Coach Sean McVay said he felt goosebumps when the first crowd for a game that counted at SoFi Stadium greeted the Rams’ players.
“It was electric. Everybody wants to talk about this stadium. It is an iconic venue that Mr. Kroenke built,” McVay said, referring to Rams owner Stan Kroenke. “But I think the players did a great job of giving the fans something to get excited about.
“I can’t even tell you how much better it felt (than last year).”
Bryce Perkins, whose preseason performance persuaded the Rams to keep a third quarterback on the 53-man roster, was one of the six players declared inactive for the Bears game.
The others were two draft picks, nose tackle Bobby Brown III and wide receiver Ben Skowronek, who were set back in training camp by forearm and thumb injuries, respectively; and safety JuJu Hughes, defensive back J.R. Reed and rookie tackle Alaric Jackson.
The inactive list can be a long-term sentence or a foot in the door.
The star graduate of last year’s inactive list is center Brian Allen. Active for only three games and a non-participant in those as he battled back from a 2019 knee injury, Allen earned the starting center job this summer. He made the first snap to new Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford on Sunday.
Tight end Brycen Hopkins, a fourth-round draft pick last season, was inactive for the Rams’ first six games and 12 of 18 last season, made the 53-man roster again this time and was active Sunday.
Last year, undrafted rookie wide receiver Trishton Jackson was on the 53-man roster but inactive for every game. He was waived this month and signed to the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad.
The Rams go on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts (0-1) on Sunday at 10 a.m. L.A. time.
This will be the Rams’ first meeting with the Colts since Sean McVay’s first game as coach, a 46-9 win at the Coliseum in 2017.
Quarterback Jared Goff, traded for Matthew Stafford, had an interception returned for a touchdown in the first half but ended up with 338 yards and three touchdown passes and nearly led the Lions back in a 41-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Detroit.
Tight end Gerald Everett, who left for Seattle as a free agent, caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson, one of his two receptions in the Seahawks’ 28-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Wide receiver Josh Reynolds, who signed with Tennessee, was inactive for the Titans’ 38-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals after saying early in the week that he was “working through” an Achilles’ tendon injury.