The LA Rams are wasting no time getting to the 80-player plateau, as the team announced their second wave of roster cuts. The timing of the LA Rams roster reduction is a bit, curious, as the team had time to wrestle over the who’s in and who’s out debate. But the Rams have gone to it without hesitation in this round. And the team has made some intriguing decisions.
First to the topic is the fact that the Rams have released four offensive players: Waived/Injured wide receiver J.J. Koski, two running backs in Raymond Calais and A.J. Rose, and finally a pretty big shocker as the team parts ways with tight end Kendall Blanton. The lone defensive player released was a rookie defensive back, Jairon McVea.
So what can we make of this?
LA Rams roster decisions leave clues for coaches’ thoughts
This wave of cuts may seem like obvious decisions to some, but some moves range from ‘okay, that makes sense,’ to downright ‘whoa, I didn’t see that coming.’ Let’s start with the expected to the shocking, in this one
Waived/injured WR J.J. Koski
The LA Rams released an injured wide receiver J.J. Koski, and it makes sense. He injured his shoulder in a training camp scrimmage session just four days ago, which created the opportunity to release him with an injury designation.
If he clears waivers, and he should, the move essentially redshirts Koskit for the 2022 NFL season, but he will have the opportunity to return to the Rams training camp for the 2023 NFL season. With the logjam at the LA Rams wide receiver position, Koski had a huge uphill battle even to return to the Rams practice squad.
Interpretation: Rams WR group is still deep.
Released rookie DB Jairon McVea
LA Rams rookie defensive back Jairon McVea showed some potential, as he put up eight tackles in the two Rams preseason games that he played. He was a smallish but very swift defensive back, standing just 5-foot-9 and weighing 185-pounds, but blazing a 4.45-second 40-yard dash.
It was believed that the Rams envisioned McVea in a hybrid CB/S role in the defense, and in some ways, he showed the potential of growing into that role. The problem is that the Rams have far too many good young defensive backs, and McVea lost to the numbers game.
I would not be shocked to learn of the Rams signing McVea to their practice squad down the line. But for now, he is no longer an LA Rams player.
Interpretation: Rams’ secondary competition is hot. Not only does this give Jairon McVea an opportunity to catch on with another team, but it affords the Rams a potential practice squad addition if a DB is picked off waivers by another team.
Released RB A.J. Rose
The rise and fall of running back A.J. Rose covered the spectrum of hero to zero in less than one week’s time. After scoring a rushing touchdown against the LA Chargers in the LA Rams’ first preseason game, he was involved in a failed handoff from quarterback Bryce Perkins in the Rams’ second preseason game, resulting in missed third-down and short opportunity while LA Rams head coach Sean McVay was engaged in an interview with the broadcast booth.
The Rams are not cutting QB Bryce Perkins. The Rams did cut RB Rose. Rose is one of the LA Rams’ bigger running backs, a 6-foot-1 212-pound rusher who was signed late and for all intents and purposes really had little chance of making the Rams roster. While expected, his release continues to draw attention to the fact that the Rams need a strong running game this season. But who will generate that strong running effort is anyone’s guess right now?
Interpretation: The LA Rams believe that RB Trey Ragas is a better fit in the LA Rams offense, and the team likely expects Kyren Williams to compete in the final preseason game.
Released RB Raymond Calais
The LA Rams doubled down on clearing out their running back room by releasing small but swift running back Raymond Calais. This move was a bit of a surprise, as Calais has been one of the team’s most effective preseason rushers. He had rushed just 12 times for 39 yards, with a 3.25 yards per rush average. The second most effective rusher? Rams RB A.J. Rose, rushed 11 times for 29 yards.
The Rams tried Calais out on kickoff returns in the second preseason game, but one resulted in a touchback and the second was a 15-yard return. While I expect Brandon Powell to shoulder both the kickoff and punt return duties, I rather expected the Rams to sign Raymond Calais to the practice squad as a solid ‘Plan B.’ He may still wind up on the team’s practice squad, but I did not expect his release as part of the team’s moves to get to the 80-player threshold.
Interpretation: A mild surprise that Calais is released at the 80-player mark. Is this some hidden strategy to sneak Calais to the Rams’ practice squad? Calais was the most effective Rams rusher in two preseason games.
Released TE Kendall Blanton
Okay, here is the shocker. With the return of Kendall Blanton, a player who was essentially the LA Rams TE2 after TE Johnny Mundt was lost for the season, the belief is that he would be almost guaranteed to return for the 2022 NFL season. Only, he’s gone at the 80-player mark.
This feels more like a hidden strategy. Blanton was targetted just once in preseason, a pass he caught for a 14-yard game. Since Blanton appeared to be in line for a significant role for the 2022 NFL season, I didn’t give much thought to it.
The Rams were clearly happy with tight end Brycen Hopkins’s preseason performance, as he has caught seven of eight passes for 50 yards. Another player whose stock appears to be skyrocketing is tight end Roger Carter Jr.
Carter’s preseason, catching one of one passes thrown his way for 14 yards, was nearly identical to that of Blanton. But he showed up huge on special teams, picking up a fumble and rumbling in for a touchdown.
The confusing part of this is that the Rams have yet to see anything in the preseason from tight end Jared Pinkney, a player who was an on-again-off-again player in terms of the Rams roster. What contributed to the LA Rams retaining Pinkney but releasing Blanton?
Interpretation: I don’t see the Rams sticking with Pinkney, and the sense that I have is that Roger Carter may end up on the team’s practice squad. The release of Blanton makes sense if the Rams are planning to carry tight ends Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins, and Jacob Harris – who the team will designate to return to a tight end role for the 2022 NFL season.
There are plenty of nuggets to chew over on this set of roster cuts. What are your thoughts?