What we learned from GM Les Snead’s comments about Rams’ 53-man roster

·7 min read

After going through roster cuts on Tuesday, Les Snead hopped on a Zoom call with reporters to discuss the decisions made by the Rams and what it means for the upcoming season. He talked about keeping only two tight ends, the chances of Lance McCutcheon playing this year.

There were some difficult decisions made by the Rams, but Snead says they would’ve been even tougher had it not been for a few injuries.

Here’s everything we learned from his media session as he shed some light on how the Rams got to their initial 53-man roster.

Lance McCutcheon and Keir Thomas pushed Jacob Harris and Chris Garrett off the roster

Snead said point blank that McCutcheon’s ascent essentially pushed Harris off the 53-man roster. Harris isn’t going far after re-signing to the practice squad, and he’ll likely be activated on game day to play special teams, but McCutcheon’s dominance in the preseason was a big factor.

On McCutcheon and Harris: “Probably at the end of the day, Lance McCutcheon had a big part in maybe knocking Jacob off the roster in terms of just having a better preseason at wide receiver,” Snead said. “We’ll definitely try to get Jacob back and he’s definitely someone who, speaking of special teams, Joe DeCamillis would activate on game day and play all four. So I think that’s the reason for that.”

The same goes for Thomas and Garrett. Thomas played well in the preseason, whereas Garrett was unavailable until the final game, thus limiting his opportunities to show the coaching staff what he could do. Garrett is also coming back on the practice squad.

On Thomas and Garrett: “Unfortunately for Chris, he had that middle part of camp where he wasn’t able to play due to injury and just through the course of preseason, Keir Thomas was someone that we felt overall a more complete football game,” he added. “Even though Chris is someone definitely with some physics, some juice in his body, to affect the passer, but not quite there yet. And I think missing some of that training camp probably didn’t give him a chance to come totally around.”

Terrell Burgess' improvement on special teams helped him earn a spot

Burgess was active for 16 of 17 games last season, but he only played 90 snaps on defense. He was a staple on special teams, playing 303 snaps, and Snead seems to believe he got even better on special teams this year.

That helped him earn a spot on the roster.

“It’s also neat to see players like Terrell Burgess, who last year was inactive some because of not necessarily being a stalwart on teams, but applying some lessons from 2021 into this year and now is someone Joe DeCamillis definitely wants on teams,” Snead said.

Rams don't have a set number of players they want to keep at each position

The Rams don’t go into roster cuts with a goal of keeping a certain number of players at specific positions. They didn’t tell themselves they had to keep three quarterbacks or six corners or eight offensive linemen.

It’s just about keeping the best players, and protecting those who might get claimed off the waiver wire. That was a big reason they kept McCutcheon, despite knowing he might not play on game days.

“We go into the 53 not necessarily having this cookie cutter of number at positions,” he said. “It’s really, all right, who do we think are the best players? And then who do we think, like in Lance’s case, do we think we need to keep to protect him from maybe getting claimed? Who do we think might slide through, be part of the 54 through 69 because now with having two flexes a week and each player getting three, hopefully we’re past COVID but obviously the last few years, those guys that are 54 through 69 are very important and play a lot. So that’s the big picture of being able to keep our best 53 players.”

Injuries, suspension made Rams' decisions easier

The Rams placed Travin Howard, Logan Bruss and Quentin Lake on injured lists, which will keep them out for a period of time; in Bruss’ case, all year. They don’t take up roster spots as a result, which made it easier for the Rams to keep some other players who otherwise might’ve been cut.

“We were able to slide (them) through the cutdown, unfortunately because of injury,” Snead said. “But it probably gave us four spots that made our roster a little bit more flexible this year. The cuts would’ve been a little bit tougher had those four players been healthy and ready to play.”

Hummel and Thomas could be active on game days, McCutcheon unlikely to be

As exciting as it is that McCutcheon made the 53-man roster, it sounds unlikely that he’ll be active on game days. Snead said he probably won’t be on the 48-man game-day roster, but the same can’t be said about Jake Hummel and Keir Thomas.

Snead sees both players as guys who will probably be active on Sundays, especially with regards to Hummel.

“Jake’s someone who’s gonna be on our 48-man roster,” Snead said. “Lance is someone who probably will not be on the 48-man roster, but definitely made our 53. Keir is a player who has a chance to be active on game day. All three of those players carved out a role, whether it was Hummel on special teams, whether it was Keir as a fourth OLB, whether it was Lance as somewhat of a redshirt future prospect.”

Rams wanted to keep more experienced O-linemen

The Rams opted to keep Bobby Evans over rookie A.J. Arcuri, and part of that decision came down to experience. Snead said they kept the eight linemen that they did because they’ve all played for the Rams before, and that they might not make it through waivers if they were cut.

“We felt like at the end of the day, the eight that we kept have all played or started with us and the other three … we felt like we could slide those players through waivers and get them back to the practice squad versus keeping them on the 53,” Snead said.

Rams plan to use O-linemen as tight ends when needed

Snead was asked about the decision to only keep two tight ends, rostering only Tyler Higbee and Brycen Hopkins. He spoke on the rise of Hopkins from being a healthy scratch throughout his two seasons to finally making an impact in the postseason, continuing that this preseason.

“I think he’s continued that evolution and the confidence he gained from those 4-6 weeks in the playoffs and Super Bowl continued into the preseason,” he said. “Give him credit, you like to see that because the first two years when you’re not dressing more than you’re dressing and you’ve been the leading receiver at Purdue your senior year, those aren’t easy days.”

Snead also mentioned the fact that they have offensive linemen who they feel can line up at tight end, essentially as a sixth offensive linemen. They did that with Joe Noteboom a handful of times late last year, and they’re confident that’s an option again this year with their backups.

“We’ll try to bring some players back to the practice squad but because we’re an 11 personnel-dominant team, there’s some of the 13 (personnel) where you train some OL to do some tight end, we did feel like going with two. Two were going to be on the 48-man roster, so it’s better to keep two at this point in time on the 53.”

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire