The LA Rams front office seldom wastes time when it comes to restocking the shelves, and the need to move quickly made this set of moves rather urgent. Even as I was lobbying the Rams to consider several alternatives to re-signing the formerly retired Eric Weddle, they were doing exactly that. I guess I should have more faith in General Manager Les Snead and company.
The Rams need help. Not just to play the upcoming playoff games, but even such mundane tasks as having meaningful practices. And so, we searched and scanned the NFL Waiver Wire for any recently waived defensive backs, and we came up with these recently waived defensive backs: Tedric Thompson, Sharrod Neasman, and Chris Jones as alternatives to signing Eric Weddle.
Later in the day, the LA Rams announced their signings, and in that announcement, the team announced signing Eric Weddle, Blake Countess, and Sharrod Neasman to the team’s practice squad, and added DB Jake Gervase to the active 53-man roster. Finally, the team made the move of DB Jordan Fuller to IR official:
So let’s do a quick review of who these players are, and whether or not any of them can be expected to see action come game day?
Blake is back
Defensive back Blake Countess played for the 2018 LA Rams, the year that the team finished with a 13-3 record and competed in Super Bowl LIII. Is there a ‘getting the band back together’ nostalgic theme running amok in the Rams front office right now? If there is, Blake Countess certainly is the right addition to this team. You see, Blake Countess is a big hitter. A more physical type of player who can deliver the type of tackles that players remember for the rest of their lives.
That’s one of the missing ingredients in the Rams defense right now. While Countess stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 185-pounds, he is still a very physical player who has had some success in the Rams secondary in the past. Over three seasons for the Rams (2016-18), he played in 37 games with four starts. Over that time, he delivered 54 tackles, four quarterback hits, one tackle for a loss, three pass deflections, and two interceptions. He was even a very effective kick returner for the Rams in 2018, returning 17 kickoffs for 419 yards.
Rams front office doesn’t let me down
The fit of defensive back Sharrod Neasman to this LA Rams defense was so natural, that I was stupefied as to why he was overlooked. Well, it turns out, he wasn’t. The LA Rams front office thought just as I did, and proceeded to sign Neasman to the practice squad as well. Now, don’t think this is a gratuitous ‘helping out a buddy’ type of signing. Oh no. Every bit of 5-foot-11 213-pounds of Sharrod Neasman has been playing hard for the New York Jets this year. In fact, he was playing as recently as mid-December 2021.
One of the more intriguing aspects of adding Neasman is the fact that he has played for Raheem Morris before. Therefore, he has a natural understanding of what his defensive coordinator wants from the safety position and has successfully delivered it in the past. He also has been very active in covering kickoffs and punts.
Weddle reinforces practice squad
The initial news announcement of the LA Rams adding retired Eric Weddle to the roster was a bit ambiguous and neglected to include the details about his joining the practice squad. Inserting Weddle into the active roster with nearly two seasons out of football is concerning. Signing him to the practice squad is far more acceptable and understandable.
Eric Weddle enjoyed a long and productive NFL career as one of the best safeties in the game during his career. Heading into post-season, that is the type of experience that is immeasurably beneficial to the entire roster. Thanks to injuries and budget constraints, the Rams secondary is a very young and inexperienced group. Weddle will help everyone play with a bit more maturity and sage wisdom.