Now that it’s the week of the St. Louis Rams’ first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints (#GameWeek if you want to help out with the Rams’ Twitter marketing campaign), the team has released their first depth chart of the year. It’s difficult to read too much into the chart, because many of the listings seem to be products of players’ inexperience. In addition, most of the spots beyond second-string are going to be fought for mostly in preseason games, and therefore don’t have much meaning.
With that said, this chart probably gives you a better idea of who is going to struggle to get playing time and thus could be at risk of being part of the Rams’ first cutdown on August 26. Again, lots can change between now and the end of the preseason, but here are the most notable details of the depth chart:
- Tre Mason, who was expected to push for the starting running back spot, is currently listed as the fourth-stringer, behind Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham, and Isaiah Pead. Mason has gotten more reps than Pead during camp so far, but if Pead or special teams ace Chase Reynolds makes the team, this could signify that Mason will be a gameday inactive during his first season as a pro.
- Austin Davis is listed as the third-string quarterback, ahead of rookie sixth-rounder Garrett Gilbert. This could just be because Gilbert is a rookie, but it might mean that he’s going to need to spend his rookie season on the practice squad as he transitions to the NFL.
- Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin are listed as the starting wide receivers, with Stedman Bailey and Brian Quick behind them. Things aren’t looking good at the moment for third-year player Chris Givens, who fell off after a big rookie season and has underperformed this year in training camp. He’s now listed as a third-stringer, along with Austin Pettis.
- Tim Barnes is still ahead of Barrett Jones as the second team center. The two have rotated snaps on the first team when starter Scott Wells has missed practice this summer, but it should be interesting if both of them are able to earn 53-man roster spots when everything is said and done.
- The current pecking order for the fourth tight end spot has Justice Cunningham up first, followed by Mason Brodine and Alex Bayer. It’s a bit of a surprise that Bayer is listed last, because he’s had a fine camp so far. This should be one of the most exciting position battles of the preseason.
- Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers still have starting spots at defensive tackle, with Aaron Donald and Alex Carrington following them.
- Michael Sam and Sammy Brown occupy the third-string spots at defensive end, with undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks still behind them. This spotlight should be on this battle on Friday, as starters Chris Long and Robert Quinn probably will be extremely limited if they even play at all, while William Hayes figures to sit while he continues to recover from offseason surgeries.
- Brandon McGee and E.J. Gaines are listed as the second-string corners, while rookies Greg Reid and Marcus Roberson follow them.
- In one of the most interesting developments on this chart, Lamarcus Joyner is listed as the third-string free safety, rather than a backup cornerback. This is notable because Joyner was expected to be the primary nickelback, but clearly has not moved along as quickly as expected. The undersized rookie may have to be content with playing special teams for a while until he proves himself worthy as a regular contributor.
- In what is probably an embarrassing development for third-year safety Matt Daniels, he’s listed as the fourth-string strong safety behind seventh-rounder Christian Bryant, who has yet to participate in a single practice for the Rams.