We’ve hit the final stretch of the summer, which means roster cuts are right around the corner. The Rams will need to trim their team down to just 53 players by next Tuesday, Aug. 29, so those on the roster bubble are running out of time to prove they deserve a spot on the team.
They’ll get one last chance in the preseason on Saturday when the Rams face the Broncos on the road, but this week of practice in Denver will also be valuable for everyone fighting to make the roster.
Here are 10 players squarely on the roster bubble with less than a week to go.
McCutcheon simply has not had the summer he did last year and it could cost him a roster spot. The Rams have a lot of competition at wide receiver to begin with and his minimal impact during the preseason isn’t doing him any favors. He only played five snaps in the second preseason game so the Rams aren’t even giving him many opportunities at this point.
OLB Ochaun Mathis
A knee injury could be what keeps Mathis off the 53-man roster. He’s been sidelined for weeks and hasn’t taken a preseason snap yet, putting him way behind his teammates at outside linebacker. This isn’t a deep or overly talented position group but Mathis hasn’t been able to get onto the field, which is a real setback for him.
S Jason Taylor II
Taylor was the player most impacted by John Johnson’s return to the Rams, pushing him down to the fifth safety spot. Los Angeles could end up keeping five safeties, at which point Taylor would be safe, but it’s also possible only four will remain on the 53-man roster – and Taylor isn’t going to overtake Quentin Lake or Russ Yeast at this point.
CB Shaun Jolly
Jolly is another undersized corner but he’s been getting reps with the second-team defense in the slot, essentially backing up Cobie Durant. The Rams don’t have a lot of cornerbacks who can consistently line up inside, so Jolly might carry enough value to be kept on the 53-man roster as the sixth corner.
It’s difficult to imagine the Rams keeping all five running backs so it could come down to either Freeman or Zach Evans making the team as the fourth option behind Cam Akers, Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers. Freeman has just nine carries for 32 yards this preseason with a long run of 9 yards, so his numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping.
Johnson has played well this preseason, which puts him in contention to make the 53-man roster. But he still has more work to do, considering Demarcus Robinson and Lance McCutcheon are also battling for snaps and playing time at wide receiver. The Rams will most likely keep six or seven receivers which means one of Johnson, Robinson, McCutcheon or Ben Skowronek will be cut.
VanValkenburg played well against the run last week when the Rams faced the Raiders but he hasn’t offered much as a pass rusher in the preseason. With an outside linebacker group that’s entirely up for grabs beyond the top two players, VanValkenburg is trying to show he’s valuable enough to keep on the 53-man roster. He’ll need to generate some pressure on Saturday in Denver, though.
OLB Keir Thomas
Thomas has been the Rams’ best pass rusher this preseason, generating five of the seven total pressures from the outside linebackers. PFF has credited him with three total sacks and six tackles, and he’s flashed in each preseason game so far. Thomas is certainly pushing for one of the roster spots at outside linebacker and he could lock it down on Saturday against the Broncos.
QB Brett Rypien
Rypien didn’t exactly get much of a chance to showcase his ability in Week 2 of the preseason, playing just 11 snaps and throwing only four passes, all of which he completed. Either the Rams don’t plan on keeping him or they’re confident enough in his game that they wanted to give Stetson Bennett a much longer look to evaluate him further. It’s hard to get a good gauge on how Los Angeles views its backup quarterbacks.
LT A.J. Arcuri
Arcuri has played 26 snaps this preseason, all against the Raiders. He was one of the standout linemen in that loss, allowing zero pressures and earning a pass-blocking grade of 85.0. Arcuri is competing to be one of the backup tackles behind Alaric Jackson and Rob Havenstein, as is Warren McClendon Jr. The Rams may not keep both, so this is a close battle to watch with a week to go.