The St. Louis Rams signed Brad Smelley, an H-Back best known for his career at the University of Alabama, on Monday. Smelley took the roster spot of tight end/defensive lineman Mason Brodine, who was lost for the season in Friday’s preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints. The 6-foot-7, 284-pound Brodine, who suffered a fractured ankle while blocking on the kick return team, had been battling for a possible tight end spot on the 53-man roster along with undrafted rookie Alex Bayer and second-year player Justice Cunningham. He’s been waived/injured, a requirement for a team to open up a roster spot for an injured player, but if he clears waivers as expected, he’ll be placed on the injured reserve list and have the opportunity to rehab with the Rams’ staff in hopes of returning and pushing for a roster spot next year.
Smelley will now join that fourth tight end competition, though the chances of him actually making the roster are rather low due to the fact that he’s behind Bayer and Cunningham so much in terms of practice time. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder will actually be beginning his second stint in St. Louis, as he was signed to the practice squad on November 27 of last year, only to be released on the following day. Smelley, who was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft, had 34 catches for 356 yards and four touchdowns on Alabama’s BCS National Championship team in 2011. Over the past two seasons, he’s spent most of his time bouncing around on NFL practice squads but has had stints in both years on active rosters, ending the 2012 season with the Browns and then playing in two games with the Houston Texans before being placed on injured reserve. He has one career catch for three yards, which he had with Cleveland as a rookie.
Even though his chances probably are minuscule at best, head coach Jeff Fisher seemed encouraged by Smelley, saying “he’s a smart young man, talented, can play a couple different positions. So it’ll give him an opportunity to help us at the position.” He should lighten the load a bit on Cunningham and Bayer, who both got tons of snaps in the preseason opener, and give the Rams another option as a blocker out of the backfield.