Fragility of 5 Rams veterans can open door for backups to earn starting roles

Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams / Harry How/GettyImages
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Do the Rams have sufficient depth?

Okay, we've done a pretty strong crosscut of the Rams key offensive players, and pointed out how their age, combined with an injury history that is trending in the wrong direction, imperils the offensive goals for the team this season. But isn't that the case for all NFL teams in every season?

The durability of pre-ordained starters is a problem for every NFL team. The team learned an expensive but vital lesson from the injuries that decimated the team's roster in 2022. Despite entering the season with two starting offensive linemen who could reasonably be expected to suffer injuries at some point in the season, the team foolishly planned to backup one starter with the starter at another position. That plan proved to be disastrous. Short of starting another player, the only solution for the team is to ensure that the team has:

  • Adequate depth - If the team understands that a designated starter has a 62 percent availability rate, then the team must ensure that the depth chart not only addresses the need for a truly capable backup, but that the team has a Plan B to backup the backup. The team cannot carry development players on the roster who do not hold the upside potential to grow into a larger role.
  • A true succession plan - The team must also have a clearly defined succession plan in the likelihood of a season ending injury to the veteran starter. Whether that means creating a short list of free agents to contact to sign to the roster, to practice squad players who are ready to be promoted to the active roster, to the backup players on the roster who must step up and into a starting role.

I believe that out of all past Rams rosters, this year's batch of blending veterans and young players has two benefits. The Rams inclination to sign veterans from the 2024 NFL Free Agency market has restored a certain level of consistency and predictability to key positions on the team. From offensive line to secondary, the restoration of veterans who can set the example for younger players is quite apparent.

Beyond that, the team has reinvested into positions that have historically been neglected by the front office. GM Les Snead invested in the offensive line, in the secondary, in a backup (perhaps starting) tight end, in the backup quarterback position, all of which have been positions that have been filled by undrafted or late-round drafted rookies in the past.

So how does that improve this team's ability to handle injuries in 2024?