St. Louis Rams Make Some Surprising Personnel Decisions as They Fill Roster Needs

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | On Friday, August 31, the St. Louis Rams cut their roster down to the required 53 players. Backup quarterback Kellen Clemens and former New York Jets first round pick Vernon Gholston were among the players let go.

The following day, the team shocked fans across the country when it traded 2011 fourth round pick Greg Salas to the New England Patriots for a late-round 2015 draft pick. The Rams also released cornerback Jerome Murphy.

Here is a look at the team's surprising roster moves from the past two days:

Goodbye Clemens

Undrafted rookie quarterback Austin Davis impressed the Rams' coaching staff throughout training camp, but no one expected him to earn a spot on the roster as Sam Bradford's backup. However, I think the decision to keep him over Kellen Clemens is an indictment of the veteran's performance. Clemens had a couple nice games in relief of Bradford last season, but he's not the kind of player that the team can count on for a long period of time.

Clemens played for Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer when they were with the New York Jets. You would think that Schottenheimer would have pressed for the team to keep Clemens if he truly believed that the quarterback could help this team.

Meanwhile, there's little question that Davis has the potential to be a decent quarterback in the NFL, but I find it hard to believe that the Rams will keep him as the number two guy. Look for the Rams to pick up another quarterback to serve as Bradford's backup.

Murphy is released

There were rumors that the Rams were looking to trade Bradley Fletcher in hopes of finding help at quarterback or at defensive tackle. However, instead of moving Fletcher, the team decided to release Jerome Murphy. By letting Murphy go, the Rams are giving up on a talented cornerback who has no problems getting his hands dirty on defense. His hard-hitting style may have contributed to his past injury problems, but releasing Murphy doesn't seem to make much sense for a team that dealt with multiple injuries in the secondary in 2011.

On the bright side, the Rams' decision to let Murphy go says a lot about undrafted rookie defensive back Quinton Pointer. He had a great training camp, but it's shocking that the team kept him over Murphy. He must have made a huge impression on Jeff Fisher and the defensive coaching staff.

Salas traded

It may be somewhat surprising that the Rams traded Greg Salas to the Patriots, but it makes sense. Salas was just one of many possession receivers on the St. Louis roster, and the team needed to trade him so it could fill a need at another position. He had some great moments for the Rams last season, but the truth is that Salas never set himself apart from the other receivers.

Think about it. Who else would the Rams have traded or released? Brian Quick and Chris Givens are rookies who are being developed for the team's future. Austin Pettis had a great camp and earned a roster spot despite being suspended for the club's first two games. Danny Amendola is Bradford's go-to guy, and Steve Smith proved that he's still more than capable of being a solid NFL receiver during the preseason. Salas was the odd man out, and if the Rams were going to move someone, trading him made the most sense.

St. Louis probably isn't done juggling its roster, but it appears that things are finally coming together for 2012. With the season opener just a week away, we'll know soon enough if the Rams made the right roster decisions.

Derek Ciapala has been following the Rams since childhood. He has been published on Yahoo! Sports, GatewayMMA.com and multiple other websites. You can check him out on Facebook or Twitter @dciapala.

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