Who is next up on the Rams’ depth chart?
The fact that Van Jefferson missed a practice and the head coach did not have sufficient answers to address media questions is admittedly not a good sign. But it’s not exactly a harbinger of doom either. It’s one practice, and that could be something as silly as muscle cramps that never ceased.
But it could be . . . more significant?
Well, that sounds . . . ominous, doesn’t it?
Despite the lack of solid information, we should explore the what-if scenario in terms of what the LA Rams offense may look like if Jefferson has truly re-injured his knee. Well, it never hurts to discuss some options, does it?
Rams Roster: Receivers are deep
WR Brandon Powell would certainly be one option, wouldn’t he? While his 5-foot-8 181-pound frame may not be nearly as effective in blocking, he has proven the ability to excel in the special teams unit. So he should be capable of running, creating separation, and putting up yards after the catch.
WR Tutu Atwell has been projected to win the third wide receiver outright. While that is unlikely, would a season opener without Jefferson ready to go open the door for a Tutu Atweel opportunity? Well, Atwell is fast and should be able to stretch the field. But much like Powell, at 5-foot-9 and a rather optimistic 165-pounds, the long-term durability question is unresolved.
With the uncertainty surrounding Van Jefferson’s health, both Ben Skowronek and Jacob Harris elected extra time to work after practice. See where this is leading? Hmmm . . .
Perhaps they were given the word to prepare for a larger role going forward?
Best Plan B options
WR Ben Skowronek is coming off a season where he had some experience as a rookie. While that places him higher on the list, his skillsets overlap that of Allen Robinson, and Robinson is clearly a more accomplished wide receiver in terms of catching the football and winning contested catches. But Skowronek is the first player, at 6-foot-3 and 224-pounds, who fits the total requirement for playing the receiver position in the Rams offense.
If there is one player who seems to check all of the boxes for a possible substitute for an injured Van Jefferson, wide receiver turned tight end turned wide receiver Jacob Harris is it. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 211-pounds, he is a huge target on the field. And blessed with incredible speed, he is more than capable of putting the secondary on their heels trying to defend the deep ball. Best of all, he trained with tight ends in 2021, so he has already been given a crash course in blocking defenders.
And, later in the season, there is always the option to re-sign free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
I believe that the LA Rams will have Van Jefferson on the football field against the Buffalo Bills in the season opener. But if he is unable to go, the Rams roster is deep enough to handle a temporary absence.