If you have been paying attention, you know that the LA Rams roster has been leaving clues over their upcoming 53-man roster to the point that over 50 percent of the team’s active regular-season roster seems to be all but decided. And even the 50 percent guess may be understated by about 10-15 percent.
The truth is that an NFL team that is coming off a season that culminated in a Super Bowl-winning parade will probably not be a team that engages in wholesale roster makeovers. In fact, in many cases the Rams are likely planning to do what all NFL teams plan to do in similar circumstances: return as many players to their roles of a year ago as possible.
Sometimes, that is simply not possible because those players were not re-signed, were released, or retired. The LA Rams coaching staff must now sort through the remaining 85-man roster and discern which players stand the best chance of continuing on with the Rams this season. For the rest? It will be either a chance to sign on with the Rams practice squad or attract interest from some other NFL team.
Much of the Rams roster competition is over, or nearly so. And yet, the Rams are preparing to host the Houston Texans on August 19th. Since the final roster cuts are still days away, what bearing might the second preseason game have on the Rams roster? Perhaps more than you may think. Here’s what I mean:
Roster decision III: P Riley Dixon needs a good game
With the LA Rams cutting undrafted punter Cameron Dicker, it’s clear that the team intends to go with veteran punter Riley Dixon. That was a rather surprisingly early decision to make, particularly in light of the fact that the team will now be forced to use both Riley Dixon to punt and Matt Gay to kick in the remaining two preseason games.
Since Dixon has not punted for the Rams, this will mark his first opportunity to do so. But, that opens up the possibility for not only an impressive showing in the preseason but also a disappointing performance as well. In short, the Rams will be looking for good hang time, good distance, and the ability to punt the ball out of bounds inside the opponent’s 20-yard line whenever possible. But what if Dixon fails to deliver?
Well then, look for the Rams to make a move to restore competition to the role.
Roster decision II: Another Lance McCutcheon showing will force Rams to rethink WR depth
The LA Rams seem to have settled in on their six wide receivers, and even with a strong showing in the first preseason game, I’m just not convinced that undrafted Lance McCutcheon has enough to guarantee anything more than make the Rams hopeful that they can sneak him onto their practice squad.
But if shows up with a similar two-touchdown performance in Game 2, well then all bets are off. There are NFL teams in need of wide receiver help, and the Rams would be well served to place some calls to the Baltimore Ravens or the Green Bay Packers before final roster cuts are due. Depending on who the Rams are willing to demote, they could negotiate a future draft pick for a player who may otherwise be claimed off their waiver wire.
The LA Rams will not be able to slide all of their wide receivers to the practice squad as it now stands. In order for WR Lance McCutcheon to earn the right to a roster spot, he will need to show up big once more.
Roster decision I: Rams RBs: A strong Kyren Williams showing will lock up their third RB slot
The LA Rams are certainly in the market for someone to showcase their ability to run with the football. While the team’s fundamentals appear to be on track, the team’s first effort to run the football against the LA Chargers was not exactly effective. It was not a disaster, as the team was able to generate positive yards on nearly every play. And the team was able to punch it into the endzone twice on the ground.
But there is a strong desire to see proof of improvement from the Rams’ rushing offense that ended the 2021 NFL season as the 25th-ranked rushing offense. Not only did the team struggle so mightily that they averaged less than 100 rushing yards per game all season, but the team’s ten rushing touchdowns dropped them to the 28th-ranked scoring offense on the ground.
The Rams showed off a bit of determination by scoring twice on the ground against the LA Chargers in their first contest. But I think it would be nice if the team put up a strong running show in one of their remaining two preseason games. Nothing too elaborate, just one or two 10+ yard bursts to assuage concerns for a repeat of last year. That would be the ideal way for rookie RB Kyren Williams to mark his debut at running the football for the Rams.
Right now, we cannot say that Williams will even play against the Texans. But if he does, I certainly hope that he has an outstanding game. I: Rams offensive line is set: Joseph Noteboom, David Edwards, Brian Allen, Coleman Shelton, Rob Havenstein