Yesterday, the St. Louis Rams had their first full-team, full-pad practice of Training Camp, setting the scene for the first genuine look at the new team. Naturally, with a relatively larger number of young players battling for their spot on the depth chart, there was plenty of rotating on the 1st-team squads. However, there have been a couple of standout players like could certainly sneak their way onto the final roster. While it may be extremely early to pin down the depth chart, it doesn’t hurt to try and assess the team at this point. So, here is Ramblin’ Fans’ stab at what the final 53-man roster might look like:
|Depth||No. 1||No. 2||No. 3|
|QB||Sam Bradford||Austin Davis||Kellen Clemens|
Little has changed, nor will it change, at the quarterback spot. The only mentionable happening at camp thus far is the extended amount of reps that Johnny Hekker, the punter, has taken. In fact, Hekker has ran 7-on-7, and even 11-on-11, nearly every day at practice thus far. With continued progression, that could very well spell the end of Kellen Clemens on the roster, again, especially with Jeff Fisher’s obvious faith in Austin Davis as the backup.
Running Back (4)
|Depth||No. 1||No. 2||No. 3||No. 4|
|RB||Isaiah Pead||Zac Stacy||Daryl Richardson||Benny Cunningham|
This “depth chart” could very well change on a practice-by-practice basis until we see these running backs perform during the preseason. This weekend there were concerns that Isaiah Pead has suffered a leg injury, appearing to be nursing a hamstring after Saturdays practice. He shook away doubts on Monday, seeing the slight majority of the reps at practice, and opening some eyes with his “quickness.” Daryl Richardson should still be considered the “favorite” for the starting job, but if Stacy and Pead continue to impress, the battle during the preseason may be much tighter than previously anticipated. Further down the depth chart, Benny Cunningham has popped up on the radar on a number of occasions, while Terrance Ganaway has been M.I.A. The ex-Jet will likely have the upper hand in making the final roster, especially with ties of Brian Schottenheimer. However, “depth” players will continue to get plenty of reps at camp, so it is not unthinkable that one could steal a slot on the 53-man roster.
Tight End/Fullback (4)
|Depth||No. 1||No. 2|
|TE/FB||Lance Kendricks||Mike McNeill|
|TE||Jared Cook||Cory Harkey|
Tight end and fullback might be the most difficult grouping on the roster to figure out at this point in the offseason. Jared Cook has performed “as advertised,” but with Lance Kendricks sidelined with injury, the rest of the tight ends are getting plenty of 1st- and 2nd-team reps in the offense. In fact, Cory Harkey might be the most talked about “fringe player” at camp thus far, making a handful of impressive catches… while also taking some big hits; one courtesy of T.J. McDonald. No one should expect the St. Louis Rams to keep a “true fullback” on the 53-man roster, especially with this transition to a speed-happy, pass-friendly offensive system, with Sam Bradford playing general in the backfield. The lead blocking responsibilities will likely fall on the shoulders of Lance Kendricks and Mike McNeill, although Jeff Fisher even mentioned Jared Cook might be motioning into the backfield on occasion. However, with players like Zach Potter, Cameron Graham, and Philip Lutzenkirchen all fighting for a spot on the final roster, it would not be unthinkable to imagine the St. Louis Rams keeping five tight end, or tight end-hybrids, headed into September. Of those three, Graham is the only player signed to a “multi-year” deal, although that does not mean much in the football world.
Wide Receiver (6)
|Depth||No. 1||No. 2||No. 3|
|WR1||Chris Givens||Brian Quick||Stedman Bailey|
|WR2||Austin Pettis||Tavon Austin||Andrew Helmick|
Using the past couple of seasons as a template, the St. Louis Rams will likely keep between six or seven wide receivers on the 53-man roster. The slotting on the depth chart will be almost meaningless this season, with, at least, four players likely to be rotated into the game on any given play. Brian Quick and Tavon Austin has gotten the most “attention” from reporters at camp, but almost all of the receivers have had several moments thus far, seemingly taking turns hauling in the long-ball from Sam Bradford. The only true question mark in the receiving corps will be the “sixth slot.” Currently, Nick Johnson, who was listed on the Rams’ 2012 practice squad for most of the season, figures to be the front-runner for the final roster. However, Andrew Helmick, a small-school prospect from local Lindenwood University, has become somewhat of a fan favorite in the last week. Helmick is drawing comparisons to “scrappy” players like Danny Amendola and Wes Welker, and looks to be a factor on special teams, as well as in the receiving game. Sadly, he was forced to head to the locker room early on Monday, but will hopefully return to practice on Wednesday at full strength.
Offensive Line (8)
|Depth||No. 1||No. 2|
|LT||Jake Long||Joe Barksdale|
|LG||Chris Williams||Shelley Smith|
|C||Scott Wells||Barrett Jones|
While most of the starting lineup has essentially been set since acquiring Jake Long this offseason, there are still several questions. Most notably, the left guard spot appears to still be up for grabs, with Shelley Smith and Chris Williams alternating 1st-team reps. Michael Brockers has been a complete monster on the interior of the defensive line, which will undoubtedly make it difficult to assess “positive performance”; however, it is fairly safe to assume both will make the final roster. The rest of the battle on the depth chart might be even more interesting, with the recent signing of Graham Pocic, in interior line specialist. However, the drafting of Barrett Jones will give the St. Louis Rams a plug-and-play lineman anywhere from guard to guard, which might spell the end of Tim Barnes, a 2012 practice squad player, and the other three center/guards currently on the 90-man, training camp roster. In all, there are well over 13 linemen vying for a spot on the St. Louis Rams’ final roster. The league average is eight, and with perennial starters in four of five starting spots, it is highly unlikely that the St. Louis Rams will keep anymore than necessary.