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In less than a week, the Los Angeles Rams will need to trim their roster to only 53 players, down from the current limit of 80 players. They’ve already cut 10 guys from their offseason roster, but releasing another 27 will be incredibly difficult.
The running back position got a little more complicated on Wednesday when the Rams acquired Sony Michel from the Patriots. Might that bump Jake Funk off the 53-man roster? Or will the Rams keep four running backs?
And with Chris Garrett shining against the Raiders, he might’ve earned himself a spot on the team, too.
Here’s my latest roster projection for the Rams after the Michel trade and cutdown to 80 players on Tuesday.
As good as Perkins has looked, it’s just too hard to find a spot on the roster for him. In an ideal world, the Rams will sneak him onto the practice squad after waiving him next week. But that will only happen if no other team claims him off waivers and adds him to their 53-man roster. There’s at least a chance that will happen. Saturday’s preseason finale could decide his fate with the Rams.
Running back (4)
The Rams planned to keep four running backs all along, with Raymond Calais projecting to be the fourth guy on the team. But he’s out and Michel is in, which complicates things for Henderson’s role and Jones’ position as a backup. It could also push Funk off the roster altogether. That seems unlikely, especially since he got the start over Jones in the second preseason game, but Funk could be the odd-man out if the Rams only keep three running backs. I still think it’ll be four, but Funk’s spot isn’t as secure as it was before.
Wide receiver (5)
No changes here. Ben Skowronek remains sidelined and Trishton Jackson hasn’t done enough in the preseason to secure a spot on the team (yet). The same goes for J.J. Koski, who played well against the Raiders but still has a lot of work to do. The Rams don’t need six receivers on the roster so they’re most likely going to just keep five, with all of them being capable of contributing in different roles.
Tight end (4)
I'm still not sold on Hopkins as being a lock to make the team. He’s done almost nothing in the preseason, only gets reps with the backups in practice and might even be behind Kendall Blanton, who caught a touchdown pass against the Raiders. For now, I’ll keep Hopkins on the 53-man roster, but that’s very much subject to change.
Offensive tackle (4)
The top three are set, but Jackson will have to hold off Brewer for one of the last spots on the offensive line. Jackson has held up well this preseason, earning the best pass-block grade of any Rams player through two games (80.6, per PFF), but his run blocking needs work (47.9). He’s a player who if waived by the Rams, he may not clear waivers because he’s an undrafted rookie with potential.
No changes with this group through the preseason. Anchrum has been good as a run blocker and decent in pass protection, taking the majority of his reps at right tackle. Evans has been up-and-down so far but he’s still going to make the team as a backup guard with tackle ability, too. Coleman Shelton is making a push for the 53-man roster, but as of now, I’m leaving him off the team as a potential practice squad candidate.
Defensive line (6)
DT Aaron Donald
NT Sebastian Joseph-Day
DE A’Shawn Robinson
NT Greg Gaines
DL Bobby Brown III
DE Earnest Brown IV
This is as deep a group as the Rams have on the roster right now. They can easily go six deep, and that’s leaving off promising players such as Jonah Williams, Eric Banks and Marquise Copeland, all of whom have played pretty well this preseason. The team’s toughest decisions will likely come from this group because there’s just so much depth and talent. It would be great to see Brown and Brown step up on Saturday against the Broncos to solidify their place on the depth chart, but they should be safe regardless.
Outside linebacker (6)
Lewis’ lingering knee injury could land him on IR to start the season, which would cause him to miss the first three games of the year. If that’s the case, the Rams will get another roster spot, but even if not, I'm putting Garrett on the team. He and Lawler had two of the best games of any Rams player so far this preseason, impressing the coaching staff before roster cuts. Garrett could contribute as a situational pass rusher, showing good potential in that role thus far.
Inside linebacker (4)
In order to keep Garrett, I had to make a sacrifice at inside linebacker. Micah Kiser seems like he’s going to make the team, but only Kenny Young and Troy Reeder have been kept out of preseason action at linebacker. That’s noteworthy, and should indicate that they’re atop the depth chart. Kiser and Howard might be battling for one spot because keeping five linebackers might be tough to do. For reference, the Rams had just Kiser, Young and Reeder at inside linebacker last October. They don’t put much value in this position, so why keep five?
David Long Jr.
Deayon and Long have been held out of both preseason games so far, an indication that they’re safe. Rochell will make the team, too, but if the Rams go six deep, there will be some stiff competition between the likes of Kareem Orr, Brontae Harris and possibly Donovan Olumba. Five is plenty at cornerback, especially with the versatility of Terrell Burgess.
Reed and JuJu Hughes will be hard players to cut. They’ve been two of the Rams’ best defenders this preseason, making plays on the ball and stepping up against the run. Five feels like a comfortable number at safety, and both Reed and Burgess can play some cornerback, making this one of the stronger groups on the team.
Special teams (3)
K Matt Gay
P Johnny Hekker
LS Matthew Orzech
Hekker remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list, while Corey Bojorquez is not. That could be bad news for Hekker, who is battling for his job in practice and the preseason. The Rams haven’t indicated that Hekker’s job is in danger, but Bojorquez is no slouch. I’ll stick with Hekker, as well as Orzech at long snapper, with Gay entrenched as the kicker.