Now that the St. Louis Rams are halfway through their preseason schedule, we’ll take another stab at projecting the 53-man roster that they’re going to open up the regular season with.
The Rams have opened up the season with only two quarterbacks in both of the years that Jeff Fisher has been the head coach. There’s a good chance that will change this year, though, because the Rams invested a draft pick in Garrett Gilbert, and he’s been solid during the preseason. Since it’s unlikely that he would dress for a game unless Bradford or Hill got hurt, maybe they would run the risk of putting him through waivers and getting him to the practice squad, but it seems more likely that he’ll at least begin the season on the 53-man roster.
With third-year back Isaiah Pead out of the mix after suffering a season-ending injury, Reynolds’ roster spot seems to be safe. With their apparent distrust of the special teams ace in the backfield, however, it seems likely that undrafted rookie Trey Watts or another young back will end up on the practice squad.
*=Bailey is suspended for the first four games of the regular season due to a PED violation.
Along with the defensive line, the wide receiver group is one of the hardest to predict. There’s not a guarantee that third-year wideout Chris Givens is going to make the team, and there are a few young guys who are making strong cases as special-teamers. Undrafted rookies Austin Franklin and Jordan Harris have both looked very solid on the kickoff and punt coverage teams, and with Bailey, an elite special-teamer, on the shelf, maybe one of them could force their way on. Those two, along with T.J. Moe, Emory Blake, and Justin Veltung, are practice squad candidates if they don’t make the 53-man roster.
This is a deep, talented group that could be further boosted by the emergence of Bayer, an undrafted rookie who has been one of the team’s most impressive players during the preseason. He seems to be the strong favorite in a competition which now exists between himself and second-year player Justice Cunningham. Don’t be surprised, however, if Cunningham, a strong blocker and special-teamer, earns a spot on the practice squad.
Person seems to have earned himself a spot on the 53-man roster, and Joseph and Barnes are basically guaranteed spots as well. The Rams will probably keep nine linemen in total, so that leaves one spot. With Barrett Jones, last year’s fourth-rounder, having been so highly regarded coming out of college, the Rams probably won’t give up on him just yet. It’s possible, however, that his back injury could cause him to land on injured reserve, which would open a spot for someone among Bond, Mitchell Van Dyk, or Brandon Washington.
This is the most difficult area to predict, because there’s so much competition among the backups. The first seven are guaranteed spots, then things get tough. Carrington, an offseason free agent acquistion, would seem to have a strong hold on a spot as well, but third-year defensive tackle Matt Conrath is still being given every opportunity to prove himself as well. Considering that Jeff Fisher traditionally has only had three defensive tackles up for games, perhaps it would be best to let both of them go and keep the combo of Michael Sam and Westbrooks instead. Both have been impressive during the preseason, and it might be tough to get either of them through to the practice squad.
This group seems to be pretty much set. Steward has looked good enough to win a spot, and none of the other young ‘backers that the Rams have in camp have really challenged him. If anything, maybe they would keep a seventh just because of all the injuries that have affected this group in the early going. There will surely be at least one linebacker on the practice squad if they roll with six on the active roster.
All five of these guys have solidly established themselves; it’s just a matter of whether the Rams keep a sixth corner, which they could do in lieu of a fifth safety since Joyner can play both positions. In that case, rookies Greg Reid and Marcus Roberson would be the primary candidates for that spot. Look for one of them to end up on the practice squad if the Rams keep five corners.
The first four seem to be safe, while Daniels is battling for a spot. He’s got the ability to play special teams well, which helps his cause, but he is hurt once again, which is not good for the guy who has gone on IR early in both of his seasons in the league. Daniels is probably fighting for his spot against a potential sixth cornerback.
This bunch is safe, although Zuerlein definitely needs to clean things up to maintain his long-term security after missing three of his first four preseason field goals.