NFC West Writer
With a young roster littered with inexperienced players, figuring out who stays and who goes as he whittles down to 53 will be a difficult task for Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay.
“There’s not anything that I can say is kind of set in stone,” McVay said. “You start to have an idea as some of these things start to materialize, but there’s still a lot of competition and a lot of evaluation for us to be able to get to those final cutdowns.”
The Rams have two days of joint practices with the Denver Broncos and their final preseason game in the Mile High City before executing final roster cuts next Tuesday. That time provides a couple more opportunities for McVay to make some final decisions on a 90-man roster that contains nearly 40 first-year players.
That said, here’s our attempt to figure out which players McVay will choose for his team’s 53-man roster, as the Rams prepare to open the regular season on the road against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 10.
The Rams certainly could go with two quarterbacks and try to get Rypien on the practice squad. But considering Stafford is coming off a 2022 season shortened due to a bruised spinal cord, along with a new rule for teams to carry an emergency third quarterback on game days, it makes more sense to protect the most important position in sports with another experienced hand.
Running back (4)
Recent training camp acquisition Royce Freeman could be a consideration here. Or perhaps the Rams claim another runner during final roster cuts. Akers and Williams likely will be used more in a runner-by-committee approach. Williams has looked decisive running the football in practice and has solid hands catching the ball out of the backfield.
Rams reportedly tried to trade QB Matthew Stafford this offseason
Wide Receiver (6)
Veteran receiver Tyler Johnson and second-year pro Lance McCutcheon are possibilities here. According to Next Gen Stats, the Rams used three-receiver sets 90.7% of the time in 2022, so keeping seven receivers might make sense. Skowronek, who has developed as a pass-catcher, provides versatility because of his ability to play fullback.
Tight end (3)
Higbee, 30, looks healthy and is having one of his best camps. Hopkins has received kudos from McVay for his improvement. Hunter Long, whom the Rams received as part of the trade with Miami for Jalen Ramsey, has been injured during training camp and could begin the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Offensive line (9)
Tremayne Anchrum Jr.
Because of this group’s injury issues last season, the Rams could opt to keep someone like AJ Arcuri on the active roster. McVay has yet to settle on a starting five during training camp because of injuries to players like Noteboom, Havenstein and Bruss. While it would be ideal for the Rams to build chemistry with the same five guys during camp, expectations are low for L.A., making it more important to let things play out into the regular season if that’s what it takes to find the right combination up front.
Defensive line (7)
Bobby Brown III
Earnest Brown IV
Other than Donald, this group is inexperienced. It will be up to defensive line coach Eric Henderson to find the right combination of players, along with Donald setting the tone on game days. Seventh-round pick Desjuan Johnson also is a consideration here. He’s flashed during training camp.
[Williams: Future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald has a ‘fire lit into me’ playing with young Rams]
It will be interesting to see where the consistent pass rush is generated off the edge. Hoecht flashed some ability last season, but does he have the juice to develop into a double-digit sack guy? Young showed good speed off the edge in training camp. Jones is the most talented player in this position group and needs to take on more of a leadership role on game days.
Defensive back (10)
Cobie Durant (CB)
Robert Rochell (CB)
Derion Kendrick (CB)
Ahkello Witherspoon (CB)
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (CB)
Jordan Fuller (S)
Russ Yeast (S)
John Johnson III (S)
Quentin Lake (S)
Shaun Jolly (S)
Like the linebacker group, there’s a lot of question marks in the secondary. Bringing back Johnson with his experience makes sense. Sixth-round pick Hodges-Tomlinson has made a lot of plays during training camp and in preseason play. Seventh-rounder Jason Taylor II is a possibility to make the active roster.
Tanner Brown (K)
Ethan Evans (P)
Alex Ward (LS)
All three of these players are rookies, so expect the Rams to pay close attention to final roster cuts on other teams for upgrades to this position group.
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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