The St. Louis Rams wrapped up their preseason with a loss to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, which means that we’ll find out soon enough who’s going to be on the team’s 53-man roster to open the season. General manager Les Snead said that some of the cuts could be made late Friday afternoon, though he acknowledged that he’ll need to sleep on some of the final decisions before the deadline on Saturday.
Here’s one final guess at who will comprise the Rams’ 53-man roster to open the regular season:
Rookie sixth-rounder Garrett Gilbert has looked raw enough during the preseason that the Rams should be able to get him through waivers to the practice squad and continue to develop him. Davis has looked like a solid backup option over the past couple weeks. There’s at least a faint possibility that they could try to acquire a more experienced backup option, but that seems less likely considering that Davis has been so good.
Undrafted rookie Trey Watts may have earned himself a 53-man roster spot with another good performance on Thursday night. The top four guys are probably locked in, with Reynolds being a major special teams contributor. If the Rams don’t find room for Watts, they may be at risk losing him on waivers.
None of the other young receivers have really done anything to deserve a spot, so if Justin Veltung, Emory Blake, and Austin Franklin are going to stay a part of the team, it will almost surely be on the practice squad. The most interesting in-season roster battle may be seeing who sticks between Givens and Pettis after Stedman Bailey returns from a four-game suspension.
The battle between Cunningham and Alex Bayer is the most difficult to call on the roster. I went with Cunningham because he seems to be utilized more due to his solid blocking ability and special teams skills, but Bayer has definitely shown enough as a receiver to potentially make the team as well.
Washington didn’t exactly wow anyone with his performance on Thursday, but he didn’t get embarrassed like his competitors for a potential ninth offensive line spot, such as Sean Hooey and Travis Bond, did. Since whoever makes the team as the ninth lineman will likely be inactive on Sundays anyway, it’s still possible that the team could elect to allow second-year lineman Barrett Jones to recover from his back injury and have him ready to go by midseason. Otherwise, they may be searching for outside help to upgrade at this spot.
Rookies Michael Sam and Ethan Westbrooks have both had great preseasons, and neither deserves to get cut. There’s only so much defensive line space, though, which is why I’m throwing a curveball here and not including veteran defensive tackle Alex Carrington. Jeff Fisher rarely dresses four defensive tackles on Sundays anyway, which would leave Carrington as an inactive, and it would be more financially efficient to have Westbrooks and Sam stand on the sidelines and not do anything. Besides that, they might be able to get something in return for Carrington via a trade. Perhaps the reason we saw Carrington start at defensive end on Thursday was to showcase him for such a deal.
With as little as the Rams’ young linebackers have done to distinguish themselves this preseason, Etienne Sabino’s great performance on Thursday may have been enough to vault him ahead of Steward on the 53-man roster. I’m still giving Steward the edge right now, though it’s possible that the Rams may look for someone off the waiver wire to fill that sixth linebacker spot.
The Rams are likely to keep six corners due to Johnson’s injury. I’m giving Roberson the edge for the last spot, though Greg Reid and Darren Woodard have also been good and would be basically interchangeable with Roberson.
Since they’re keeping six corners, the Rams probably only carry four safeties. That could change, however, if they want to hold onto rookie special teams standout Avery Cunningham or seventh-rounder Christian Bryant, who had a nice night on Thursday.
Now that they’ve made it through the preseason healthy, all these guys are 100 percent locks unless they suffer some freak accident on the plane ride home.