Rams training camp: 3 positions with the best depth, 2 with the worst!
The Los Angeles Rams will kick off training camp at UC Irvine next week with rookies arriving on Sunday, July 25 and the first practice will take place on Wednesday, July 28. The Rams are expected to be in the domestic spotlight for the 2021 season and are expected to feature in 5 league-leading prime-time games.
The NFL season is notoriously long and the physical nature of the game is taking its toll on players, this is especially true as the league’s 17-game debut season approaches. All teams sustain injuries to key players, and the Rams are no exception. The playoff contenders part ways with depth of roster and a ‘next man up’ mentality. Some lists are better prepared for this than others. Which groups of positions on the Rams list are considered the deepest? Are there particular areas of the team where depth is a big concern?
While most of the attention on the defensive line is rightly focused on 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, Los Angeles has a number of ascending role players who will be vying for playing time in 2021. .
Donald, Sebastian Joseph-Day and A’Shawn Robinson are considered starters for the Rams at the start of training camp. Greg Gaines, a former 2019 fourth-round draft pick nfl draft, represents a starting caliber player who will be a rotating piece on the defensive line this season. Los Angeles drafted rookies Bobby Brown (fourth round of Texas A&M) and Earnest Brown (fifth round from the Northwest) to build depth ahead of the 2021 season. Both rookies could reasonably gain a role in the rotation as situational players.
The Rams also return second-year undrafted free agents Michael Hoecht, Jonah Williams and Eric Banks. Hoecht worked with coach Eddy McGilvra and could fulfill a role similar to that of the late Morgan Fox. McGilvra has trained a number of defensive linemen with the team, including Fox, Joseph-Day and Gaines.
Security and defensive caller John Johnson left the Rams during the 2021 free agency period and signed with the Cleveland browns. Los Angeles have several remaining players with starting experience that can be trusted with a bigger role in Johnson’s absence.
Jordan Fuller got a starting role on the squad last season after impressing coaches during training camp. Third-year safety Taylor Rapp has already replaced Johnson, becoming the strong starting safety in 2019 when Johnson was placed in an injured reserve with a shoulder injury. The Rams also drafted Terrell Burgess from Utah in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, but his rookie campaign was cut short due to a season-ending injury.
Nick Scott’s starring role is in special teams, but he’s been a significant defensive contributor in the second half of the year, sometimes playing in half the snaps on defense.
The Bears execute a mesh sitting wheel concept and Terrell Burgess is tasked with covering one of the NFL’s most elusive players in Cordarrelle Patterson coming out of the backfield (wheel).
Burgess is going to be a * super *. pic.twitter.com/XH84IEs6vF
– Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) March 19, 2021
It may come as a surprise to some, but Los Angeles seems to have a plethora of players along the offensive line with starting experience and a few players who can be considered a starting caliber. Joseph Noteboom is expected to start training camp as a reserve left tackle, but has entered the 2019 season as the team’s left guard. Brian Allen was also a starter in 2019, but his and Noteboom seasons were cut short due to injury. Other elements of depth include players who have been hidden from the Rams roster for several seasons: G Jamil Demby, C Chandler Brewer and G Coleman Shelton.
Which position on the Rams roster has the most depth at the start of training camp?
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Darrell Henderson will enter Week 1 as the Rams return after Cam Akers suffered a season-ending injury during offseason practice. Xavier Jones, Jake Funk and Raymond Calais will seek to carve out a role of offensive contributors; However, if Henderson is short on time, Sean McVay risks putting too much pressure on new quarterback Matthew Stafford. LA will need the contributions of the young reserve riders in order to keep Henderson fresh through 17 games and potentially the playoffs. This will be a position to watch closely during training camp and preseason.
Who is most likely to become an offensive player behind Henderson?
Who is most likely to emerge as an actor behind Darrell Henderson?
Tyler Higbee has been a reliable presence on the Rams’ offense since hiring McVay. It’s hard not to shudder at the thought of a 2021 season with Johnny Mundt, Bryce Perkins or Jacob Harris in the starting lineup if Higbee were to run out of time.
Mundt is able to fulfill the more traditional role of the tight end and contribute both receiver and blocker, much like Higbee. Mundt caught nine passes for 84 yards in four seasons with Los Angeles.
Hopkins and Harris are scheming, hyper-athletic wide receivers, but in McVay’s offense the tight ends should be well balanced and willing to contribute to the running game. Both players are expected to play a lot in the preseason, but it seems unlikely that Harris will be ready to play tight this season given he was a varsity receiver and high school football player.
The Rams have high expectations heading into the first 17-game NFL season and the depth of the roster will be tested. In order to make a playoff push and reach the super bowl, unexpected contributors will have to emerge.