Why did LA Rams squander a roster spot on LS Orzech?

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Mandatory CreditGw43531 /

The LA Rams are certainly muddying the great debate over who the team might sign to fill the final roster spots in preparing for the 2021 NFL season. Of course, the prevailing consensus thought that the Rams would be scanning the waiver wires for any player cut from other rosters who might bolster the Rams depth at a shallow position.

Well, let me elaborate a bit further, shallow positions on either offense and defense. And let’s hope that the Rams don’t release any players in the meantime. Tracking the 90 man roster is tough. The current count for the roster as of May 11, 2021, is 89, including the latest signing.

Some suggested that the final roster spots were merely placeholders for a shocking signing or two of an available NFL veteran free agent. That speculation fueled Holden Cantor’s return with an article featuring a trio of veteran players who could be signed to contribute immediately to this team. Should we just go ahead and chuck that idea out the window? The LA Rams are running their roster with some irregularity this year.  Special Teams are us, it seems.

Special Teams obsession?

The Rams have taken a surprisingly zealous approach to the special teams’ performance so far with a common thread among all drafted rookies including outstanding special teams performances in college. Beyond that, the Rams are currently carrying three punters, two placekickers, and have now added a third long snapper. They started off the 2020 season with three placekickers. The plan? Hold a direct competition. How did that pan out?

Well, the Rams selected the slightest of the three, the only kicker drafted, Miami of Ohio’s Sam Sloman. He didn’t last half the NFL season. So much for three kickers. So much for open competition. So much for signing Lirim Hajrullahu and Austin MacGinnis. Well, MacGinnis did return to sign on the practice squad.

Whatever else you might say about LA Rams’ new Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis, he certainly knows how to grab the reigns of an NFL team’s personnel office and commandeer it to bring him a busload of new talent. LS Matt Orzech is just the latest example of an offseason featuring a host of moves to improve the Rams’ special teams’ play.

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams /

Los Angeles Rams

That final roster spot, simply due to its very existence, was a topic of wild speculation and conjecture. After all, the LA Rams would have been well served to sign one last veteran to compete or even assume an interim starting role with the team until some of the younger players could prove capable of starting.

Roster comings and goings

Clearly, that is not the plan right now.  What is the plan? Well, that’s all up in the air. Right now the LA Rams 90-man roster consists of these 89 players (as of May 11, 2021):

14 offensive linemen
12 defensive linemen
11 wide receivers
10 safeties
8 special teams unique players
7 outside linebackers
7 inside linebackers
6 cornerbacks
5 tight ends
5 running backs
4 quarterbacks

Who will the LA Rams add to round out the roster? Well, the current trend is special teams, so look for another kicker.

How will that help the Rams? Keep in mind that the 2020 rules required that teams downsize to 80 players before ever entering an NFL facility. It seems that has triggered the LA Rams to reevaluate how the team goes about rebuilding the off-season roster. Is the plan to have three special team specialists for each role a Joe DeCamillis dictate or did this carry over from last year’s action plan from John Bonamego?

Well, there is at least one positive out of all of this. The LA Rams screwed over the Green Bay Packers, who had also put a claim on Orzech

Green Bay Packers 1 and now LA Rams 1.

In any case, it eliminates players who can impact the defense or offense, and monopolizes nearly 10 roster positions to the roles that are not exactly considered the highest value on the team. Will the Rams truly have an open competition for the punter position? For the long snapper position? Or have the Rams outguessed themselves on this matter? It’s hard to say because the inclusion of so many special team specialists negates any opportunity to assess those roster spots as offensive or defensive players.

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In the end, it’s a matter of trust. The LA Rams have gambled correctly more often than not. But should a losing streak begin, with so many gambles taking place, the ensuing implosion could be something that is not easily shaken off. Taking a third long-snapper here may not seem like much, but it exhibits almost unfounded trust in who the LA Rams have at other roster positions. Let’s hope it pans out better than three place kickers.