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Vinny’s latest post Cowboy game 53 man roster projection...

August 19, 2019 02:36PM
[theathletic.com] ... =twittered

A major injury at linebacker shifts the Rams’ projected 53-man roster

By Vincent Bonsignore

While the Rams’ offensive and defensive starters are virtually set, a fierce battle is underway among a talented group of backup and situational candidates to secure spots on the season-opening 53-man roster. Three weeks into camp, and with two preseason games in the books, here is how I see the final roster shaping up:

Quarterbacks (2)
Jared Goff, Blake Bortles

Goff has not played in the preseason – nor will he. But he’s been fantastic throughout camp and appears poised to make another step forward as an elite quarterback. Bortles has looked solid in his preseason action while working with a lineup full of backups, including a young offensive line continually on the move as players rotate positions. He is the undisputed No. 2. The only question is, do the Rams keep a third QB? Brandon Allen and John Wolford would be in the running.

Running backs (4)
Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, John Kelly

Kelly, a second-year back, is making a move to retain his roster spot and is in a fight with Justin Davis to keep the job. But the pecking order behind Gurley clearly goes from Brown to Henderson, a rookie who looked much more comfortable and decisive in his second preseason game compared to his first. Henderson is on target to play a role this year as a change-of-pace back as the Rams try to manage Gurley’s workload.

Receivers (6)
Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, Mike Thomas, JoJo Natson

Thomas, who missed all but one game last year, has separated himself from the rest of the pack behind the Rams’ talented quartet of Cooks, Woods, Kupp and Reynolds. Thomas now appears assured of a roster spot. The question now involves whether Natson’s punt-return ability is enough to earn him another year on the roster, or whether one of the young prospects can show enough on special teams and as a viable pass-catching option to unseat him.

Tight ends (3)
Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Johnny Mundt

The Rams added undrafted rookie free agents Romello Brocker, Keenan Brown and Kendall Blanton, believing one of them could push Mundt, whom they value for blocking ability. There is a good chance that one or two of them will be practice-squad candidates, but it looks like the Rams will stay with the status quo at tight end from a year ago.

Offensive linemen (8)
LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Joe Noteboom, C Brian Allen, RG Austin Blythe, RT Rob Havenstein, T David Edwards, T Bobby Evans, C/G/T Jamil Demby (plus suspended G/C Aaron Neary)

The Rams are pushing young backup candidates Evans, Edwards and Demby this preseason while rotating each of them among two or three different positions. They need to get them up to speed as reliable backups behind the set starters. That group in particular, along with guard Chandler Brewer, who drew the start Saturday against the Cowboys, looked much more settled in Week 2 of the preseason. Neary is in line to win a roster spot, but he will miss the first four games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy and doesn’t count against the opening 53.

Defensive linemen (6)
Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Greg Gaines, John Franklin-Myers, Morgan Fox

For now, Joseph-Day appears to be holding off Gaines, a rookie from Washington, for the starting nose tackle position although Gaines will be a player to watch as the season unfolds. Tanzel Smart has been solid all camp and also could be in position to secure a roster spot. Franklin-Myers and Fox have value as rotational pass rushers.

Outside linebackers (5)
Dante Fowler Jr., Clay Matthews III, Samson Ebukam, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Trevon Young

The Rams waited more than a year to see Okoronkwo, who has battled through injuries the last 16 months, on the field. The second-year pass rusher from Oklahoma didn’t disappoint when it finally happened Saturday. Okoronkwo created noticeable pressure off the edge with burst and explosion and athletic ability, and played himself right back into consideration for a job. Rookie Natrez Patrick, who was moved from ILB to OLB recently, also delivered another strong outing, although with Micah Kiser now out with a pectoral injury, Patrick could move back inside. Justin Lawler will miss time with a foot injury and Young was unable to play Saturday due to injury.

Inside linebackers (5)
Cory Littleton, Bryce Hager, Josh Carraway, Dakota Allen, Natrez Patrick

Kiser needs surgery, which means an extended absence that takes him out of consideration for a starting job. For now, we will peg him as an injured-reserve candidate. It was a devastating blow for a young player whose needle was pointing up. It also means Hager now assumes the starting role, although don’t rule out the Rams trying to bring in some veteran help. Allen really helped himself Saturday by being an active, physical presence. The door is now wide open for a roster spot. Patrick has been opening eyes all camp and showed on Saturday he has the versatility to also play outside. That will help his chances for a roster spot.

Cornerbacks (6)
Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Troy Hill, Nickell Robey-Coleman, David Long, Kevin Peterson

A talented player or two will be dropped from this deep group of cornerbacks on cut-down day, because a number of players have stepped up behind the established top four of Peters, Talib, Hill and Robey-Coleman. Long looked much more comfortable in Week 2 of the preseason while Peterson, Darious Williams and Donte Deayon all continued their strong camps. Some tough decisions are ahead for the Rams as they try to sort out this position.

Safeties (5)
Eric Weddle, John Johnson, Taylor Rapp, Marqui Christian, Nick Scott

The battle to keep an eye on here involves Steven Parker, who continues to make plays, and the rookie Scott, who was drafted primarily for his special-teams play. Parker is making a strong case for a job.

Special teams (3)
P Johnny Hekker, K Greg Zuerlein, LS Jake McQuaide

There won’t be any changes here.

  Vinny’s latest post Cowboy game 53 man roster projection...

Rams43398August 19, 2019 02:36PM

  has Nick Scott played in PS?

LMU93104August 20, 2019 07:52AM

  Re: has Nick Scott played in PS?

Rams43107August 20, 2019 08:00AM

  Re: lol - that's the Rams' playoff game against Dallas ...

AlbaNY_Ram91August 20, 2019 08:05AM

  Re: has Nick Scott played in PS?

Rams4393August 20, 2019 08:46AM

  Re: yup - 101 snaps so far!!

AlbaNY_Ram108August 20, 2019 08:02AM