Friday, August 29, 2014

Cutdown to 53 (actual)

Steve Wyche just reported on NFL Network that the Rams have cut 17 of the 21 players they need to cut to get to the 53-man limit. He did not identify who any of the released players are, other than, naturally, to say that Michael Sam isn't one of them. The Rams will reportedly wait until right before tomorrow's deadline to announce whether Sam has made the team. On NFL Network.

Now that I've got my projection fixed to put Sam back on the final roster, here are the specific cuts reported so far:

WR Emory Blake - as projected. Very likely to go to practice squad.
G Travis Bond - as projected
DE Kourtnei Brown - as projected
DB Avery Cunningham - as projected
WR Austin Franklin - as projected. Seems like a good pick for the PS.
QB Garrett Gilbert - I assume this means the Rams have a veteran QB lined up? Honestly, if it's just Brady Quinn or something, why not just keep Gilbert? Two more things I think: going with 2 QBs on the main roster will be a bad idea, and Gilbert should make it to the Rams' practice squad.
DT Deantre Harlan - as projected. Rams may need a little luck to get him back to the PS.
LB Aaron Hill - as projected
T Sean Hooey - as projected
LB Etienne Sabino - as projected
TE Brad Smelley - as projected
LB Phillip Steward - I had a feeling. The Rams usually carried only 5 LBs last year.
OL Mitchell Van Dyk - as projected. 7th round pick should make practice squad if they want him.
WR Justin Veltung - as projected
CB Darren Woodard - I picked the wrong corner.

More as I find them and/or Jim Thomas tweets them.

-$-

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cutdown to 53 (projected)

An early stab at the last round of cuts. We may not hear anything from the Rams until after 3 p.m. Friday, according to Les Snead on TV, so the suspense may hang till Saturday.

TE Alex Bayer (PS) - Justice Cunningham over Bayer for his run-blocking.
WR Emory Blake (PS) - Didn't make enough plays that were there for him to make.
G Travis Bond - Way too many pass protection breakdowns.
DE Kourtnei Brown - Too lightweight against the run.
S Christian Bryant (PS) - Late start in camp set him back.
DT Matt Conrath - Missed time with injuries and Rams are just too deep.
CB Avery Cunningham - always low on the depth chart and made dumb special teams mistakes.
WR Austin Franklin (PS) - Not a lost cause if he can get himself coached up.
DT Deontre Harlan (PS) - Flashed quite a bit. Would have made this team easily two years ago.
LB Aaron Hill - Had a couple of flashes but was never high on the depth chart.
T Sean Hooey - time to cut bait. Two years in without enough sign he's developing as a pass protector.
OL Barrett Jones (IR) - Too many roster needs to float a spot for the constantly injured lineman.
WR Austin Pettis - I'm probably wrong and Pettis is probably WR5 till Bailey's suspension ends, but he sure did nothing this summer.
CB Marcus Roberson (PS) - I kept too many DBs, 11, initially. Somebody's got to go. Greg Reid has upside as an emergency returner, though he could go if the Rams keep Pettis. Darren Woodard made some plays.
LB Etienne Sabino - Made a decent argument for himself in Miami.
TE Brad Smelley - fullback with blocking issues = does not compute.
OL Mitchell Van Dyk (PS)- looks overmatched by professional defensive players.
WR Justin Veltung - no impact as a receiver and did little on returns.
OL Brandon Washington (PS) - Really disappointing at tackle tonight after I'd thought he had a better shot at making the squad.
RB Trey Watts (PS) - This one's killing me, because I think Watts has outplayed Tre Mason. Does he do anything on special teams?
LB Lawrence Wilson (PS) - Sleeper to make the roster. Made a lot of nice plays in games and scrimmages.

My likeliest errors will be: going with 3 QBs, going with only 4 WRs, going with 6 LBs, going with 6 corners.

* Late change to put Roberson on the cut list and take off Michael Sam, upon hearing that the Rams and NFL Network are conspiring to have an extra-special announcement about Sam right at the cut deadline tomorrow.


-$-

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cutdown to 75 - final

The Rams completed the cutdown to 75 Tuesday by cutting DE Sammy Brown and safety Matt Daniels. They are both promising athletes who flashed ability at their positions, but neither could stay healthy remotely long enough to make a lasting impact.

The Rams cut the following ten players Monday:
CB Jarrid Bryant
P/K Bobby Cowan
T R.J. Dill
WR Jordan Harris
LS Jorgen Hus
FB Kadeem Jones
LB Johnny Millard
WR T.J. Moe
OL D.J. Morrell
LB Pat Schiller (released injured)

The final moves to get to the 75-man limit were to put Sam Bradford and Demetrius Rhaney on injured reserve, joining Isaiah Pead.

The Rams will have to cut another 22 after Thursday night's game, though I'll mention for the first time here that they get to carry ten players on the practice squad this year.

-$-

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Injury epidemic for Rams in first half in Cleveland

* Sam Bradford was knocked out of tonight's game in the opening series. Armonty Bryant grabbed him just after he threw - not a dirty play, Bryant let up - and got Bradford's weight funny on the same left knee Sam tore the ACL in last season. The TV crew's guess, a reasonable one, is that the knee got hyperextended. Bradford went to the ground without it looking like he'd been hit very hard.

Rams are tight-lipped right now, just saying "injured left knee" and Bradford will not return. Austin Davis was brought into the game suspiciously early for Shaun Hill, though.

Sam Bradford is out for the season; torn ACL, same one that ended his 2013 season.

* Rodger Saffold left the game with a sprained ankle. Phil Taylor went down on a running play and rolled up on Rodger's leg. Saffold walked off under his own power, leaving me hopeful it was a low sprain. A high sprain would cost Rodger significant time. Just lousy luck for Saffold, not a lot of people on earth are going to get away unscathed when a 350-pounder crashes into the side of their leg.

Much better news here than expected; Saffold could play Thursday night. Looked like that ankle got bent pretty good on TV.

* Trumaine Johnson had to be carted off in the 2nd. Daren Bates blew a tackle on a running play, and in that act, drove his helmet smack into TruJo's knee.

Yeah, who saw Greg Reid as an opening day starter? Or E.J. Gaines?

UPDATE: Johnson has a sprained MCL, will be out at least six weeks.
2nd UPDATE: 4-6 weeks. 

* Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford have left the game with minor injuries, though I haven't heard confirmation on Langford's.

Brockers and Langford are possible for Thursday night.

Holy crap. Preseason games aren't just useless, they're dangerous, and in the Rams' case, may have already wrecked the season before it begins, though they could always rally behind Shaun Hill and play good football.

More injury updates as I see them. I'm still working the end of the first half on the DVR. Rams were leading 20-0 at the 2:00 warning, as if that freaking matters.

-$-

Sunday, August 17, 2014

RamView, 8/16/2014: Packers 21, Rams 7

RamView, August 16, 2014
From Row HH
(Report and opinions from the game.)
Preseason Game #2: Packers 21, Rams 7

The good, and probably only, news from an otherwise barely-watchable Rams preseason loss: Sam Bradford is back. Maybe by September the Rams running game and pass rush could be ready to join him?

Position by position:
* QB: Sam Bradford might have had a little rust at the start of his first “real” NFL game in ten months, but he knocked it off pretty quickly in a solid 9-12-101 outing, leading the Rams to a TD in two drives played. The Rams could have scored on their first drive. They got across midfield and Bradford converted a 4th-and-3 with a fastball over the middle to a well-covered Jared Cook. The drive bogged down in penalties from there, though, and Bradford missed out on a big play opportunity. A busted coverage left Kenny Britt wide open deep, but Bradford threw a little too far outside. Accuracy was not a problem on Bradford's second drive. He threw a spear that Brian Quick (!) pulled down for a 41-yard catch-and-run and finished the drive with an 11-yard laser to Lance Kendricks, who wasn't remotely open, but caught it for the Rams' lone TD. Bradford looked as confident in himself and his receivers as I can remember, and it looks like the arm strength he gained this offseason will be a factor. If he's made throws like the Quick and Kendricks throws as a pro, there haven't been many. He also got a big welcome back hit from Julius Peppers and survived, so check off all the boxes for Bradford this week. Shaun Hill (1-4-14) saw limited action, and like his fellow backups, limited pass protection. Chances are increasing that Hill will be the only backup QB on the main roster when September comes. Garrett Gilbert (3-6-32) got off to a nice start, with a very good play-fake and 14-yard rollout pass to Stedman Bailey, but within a few plays, took a sack holding the ball too long, then slipped into last week's pattern, with more inaccurate throws on simple stuff like crossing routes. Gilbert's going to have to do something in a game to earn a spot in the final 53. Haven't seen it yet. Austin Davis (3-6-40) didn't really have a chance to impress anyone this week, what with all the Packer scrub linemen getting completely free runs at him. Gilbert's struggles make me think the QB3 battle has been closer than I'd expected. The battle, though, is not being fought at a high level.

* RB: Too little to report, as Rams RBs got very little room to run until garbage time, averaging barely three yards a carry. Zac Stacy (6-6) had nowhere to run, and if not for penalties, his day would have been even worse. He carried four times for losses but flags (on the Rams) took two off the board. I've wondered before why Stacy doesn't bounce outside more. All his activity was up the middle here, where there was no room. Improvisation doesn't really seem to be in his nature. Bennie Cunningham (5-24) was at least able to follow Greg Robinson (at LG) for several decent carries in the 2nd. Tre Mason (12-30) nearly popped one for a TD in the 4th, and continues to make a lot out of a little space at the line, that is, when he gets any at all. Mason will be little more than a game-day inactive in 2014, though, if his blitz protection continues to be as poor as it was this week. He whiffed at Sam Barrington to give up the second sack of Shaun Hill and lost a weak effort and got Garrett Gilbert sacked on a Hasean Clinton-Dix blitz in the 3rd. Gilbert held the ball too long, and Mason blocked like he thought the ball should be out already. Cut it out, both of you.

* WR: The big play this week came from Brian Quick (!) (1-41), snagging a high pass from Bradford in traffic and splitting the defense for a big gain. Confident play continued from there, as Quick set up the Rams' TD almost by himself. A couple of plays later, he took his man deep and beat him badly enough to force a grab and a long PI penalty. Let's keep feeding Quick, though, next time he gets the hot hand. That sequence was he first time Real Game Quick actually looked like Practice Field Quick. Kenny Britt (1-5) was open for a deep TD in the 1st but Bradford's throw was off. He left the game after his only catch with a shoulder injury, but it isn't believed to be serious. Route of the day was by Stedman Bailey (2-28), who left Davon House in the dust with a comeback cutback for the only pass Hill completed. Bailey beat him deep the next play but Hill underthrew just a little, allowing the pass breakup. Recall last year's preseason game with the Packers when I said the Rams receivers made House look like Darrelle Revis. Progress! And here's some more. When you see Tavon Austin with just 2 catches for 20 yards, you start worrying the Rams are still struggling to get him the ball. But don't fret, a, because it's preseason, and b, Austin got wide open on his first reception before the ball was snapped, going into motion and then doubling back so suddenly he'd already gotten a couple yards separation on the DB trying to mirror him. The Rams have not been notable for their ability to use pre-snap motion since Mike Martz was OC, so that was heartening to see. The main minus was that the battle for WR6 looks so muddled you wonder if the Rams will even keep that many receivers. Austin Pettis (0-0) was a non-factor and Emory Blake (0-0) dropped a high pass in the 4th that a professional WR really needs to be able to bring down. Heck, it looks like the main reason to even keep 5 WRs right now is that Chris Givens (also 0-0) looks like the best option returning kickoffs.

* Tight ends: Even though they weren't the primary targets in this week's game plan, Ram TEs still weighed in with clutch plays. Jared Cook (1-5) converted a 4th-and-3 on the Rams' opening drive on a drag route with a catch that was much tougher than it looked. Lance Kendricks (2-15) made the toughest catch of the game, grabbing a whistling Bradford fastball for a TD with Micah Hyde all over him. Blocking is where I'd like to see things picked up a little. One of Stacy's losses came because Cook did a poor job picking up the MLB at the second level, letting him fly in untouched. Alex Bayer (1-11) was beaten woefully by Mike Neal to give up the 1st sack of Hill in the 2nd. Justice Cunningham contributed a little as a release valve and had a 4th-down catch, but I didn't see enough consistency run-blocking to move him up in the TE4 battle.

* Offensive line: The starters gave Bradford average-to-good protection, but the backups were terrible, and everyone lost in the trenches in the running game, which is a pretty bad thing when your main offensive goal is to run the ball. Run blocking problems came from all over. Davin Joseph got Stacy stuffed early by getting no drive on a pull block. Stacy got a bigger loss when Greg Robinson (starting at LT) couldn't get to his down block. Stacy got stuffed one more time after Mike Person (starting at LG) whiffed his block and then held his man, but not well enough. Person got beaten run-blocking at LT later in the half to get Cunningham a loss. Mason got stuffed on back-to-back plays in the 3rd, once when Tim Barnes, as ever, got knocked backwards into the running lane, and once when Travis Bond appeared to miss a blitz assignment. Rookie Robinson's game was up and down, up especially at LG, down moreso at LT. At LT in the 1st, he got embarrassed by a Clay Matthews spin move, but luckily, Bradford got the throw off. He got whipped later and badly by Julius Peppers to give up a big hit on Bradford. Sure, both those Packer sackers could well be on their way to the Hall of Fame. (Line forms behind Kevin Greene, though, gentlemen.) But if he's out at LT in 2014, Robinson's going to have to face a lot of guys who are that good. Robinson really looks good at LG, where he played with some nastiness and was about the only lineman who could create much of a lane for the RBs. Jake Long's return next week comes at the right time. In the 4th quarter, we were subjected to the worst offensive line the Rams have fielded in St. Louis. Person got beat on a 3rd down to force a wild Austin Davis throwaway, but he was in the game at that point as the fifth-string center and was still easily the best player on that line. The awful, dreadful Sean Hooey gave up three sacks in barely a minute, getting repeatedly beaten off the ball by Toledo rookie Jayrone Elliott. His partner in crime: the equally awful and dreadful Mitchell Van Dyk. Guys are past him before he can even get his hands out, raising the question, how good an idea is it to have a 6'7” guy at guard? Not very good, in Van Dyk's case. Van Dyk and Hooey both got whipped at the end of the game to get Davis sacked for a 4th time. All four of those sacks get charged to Hooey, though Van Dyk deserves credit for a couple of them. Hooey took the cake on an earlier running play, getting Trey Watts stuffed by completely whiffing on the DE RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. I'd call both of those guys revolving doors, but modern revolving doors actually slow you down once you get inside. Hooey and Van Dyk are more like those stupid highway radar signs that claim to tell you what speed you're going: useless, annoying, always wrong and doing nothing to slow anyone down.

* Defensive line: “Sack City”, the best defensive line in the league, was MIA while Green Bay waltzed to an easy no-huddle opening TD drive. Interestingly, the lineman drawing the double-teaming was Aaron Donald, yet none of his linemates took advantage of being singled up. Next door to Donald, Robert Quinn was content to pass-rush his way out of running plays and give up big holes that no one in the back filled. The Rams contained Eddie Lacy inside the 10 but gave up 20 yards his first two carries. No one as much as threatened Aaron Rodgers, who had enough time on one play to pull up THREE different times before throwing. The Ram d-line wasn't even moving. On radio, D'Marco Farr commented how tired they all looked, in the FIRST doggone quarter. I'd be making that unit run gassers Monday until every single one of them puke. The saving grace: this is nothing new for the Rams; the d-line hasn't looked especially good the last couple of preseasons, while in those two regular seasons, they've had more sacks than the rest of the league. The good performances this week came from the bench. Eugene Sims made up for last week with a much more complete game and put good pass-rush heat on Scott Tolzien, knocking the Packer backup into next week with a splendid, legal hit down at the goal line to welcome him to the game. And the plot thickened behind Sims on the depth chart. Michael Sam's first sack of preseason in the 4th is unsurprisingly getting all the media attention. It was a textbook play; he got an excellent break off the snap, excellent lean around the edge, pursued Matt Flynn well and finished well. But, alert the media, UDFA Ethan Westbrooks played on the second unit this week ahead of Sam and was eye-openingly better than what we've seen from Sam in either preseason game. His first possession in, he set a great edge on a goal line run and helped hold the Packers to a FG. In one sequence later in the 2nd, Westbrooks scored a solid hit on Tolzien and stuffed back-to-back runs. He ended the 1st half by beating Aaron Adams badly with a nice stutter-step move for a sack. I didn't get to see Westbrooks in training camp – he was injured the week I got to go. But he is bigger than Sam, stronger, a better pass rusher and has the versatility to play inside or outside. The Rams have blessed themselves with a ton of defensive line talent and they all can't play here. The decision in the next couple of weeks is less “can he play” than it will be “who do we want to see on another team the least”.

* Linebackers: Tackling was better, and Jo-Lonn Dunbar looked like he was more in the flow of play, but the Ram D needs James Laurinaitis back. Ray Ray Armstrong's not ready for prime time. He was a day late and a dollar short on Eddie Lacy's opening 13-yard run, on which Alec Ogletree also got wiped out. Aaron Rodgers then took off through a big hole after Ray Ray took his eye off him to chase a receiver. Lacy picked up a big gain off a middle dumpoff after Ray Ray slipped. I thought Ray Ray was more of a safety in college so I'll grant he's still learning the job out there. He's got the tools to do it. The Rams didn't get a blitzer to the QB until Phillip Steward got there very late in the game for the Rams' third sack. It sounds like Laurinaitis is possible for next week's game, which should settle the LB corps for the regular season.

* Secondary: Very up-and-down game for the young Ram secondary. Lamarcus Joyner struggled with Randall Cobb, giving up a big 22-yarder where he was beaten from the snap, and got beaten in the corner of the end zone for the first Packer TD, though the line allowed Rodgers much too much time to throw that one. Joyner saved the Rams a TD in the 2nd, though, when he chased down Andrew Quarless after a busted coverage I'd blame on Rodney McLeod. Joyner bounced back further with a nice 3rd-down pass breakup in the 2nd and by popping the ball away from DuJuan Harris for a turnover. That fumble bounced right to Cody Davis, who had a much better game than last week. He made a very nice open-field play to stuff an edge screen after fighting through a block and also broke up a pass at the goal line. Maurice Alexander made a couple of nice run stops on the edge, and made a Packer receiver poop his pants instead of catching a TD in the 4th. I'm not sure if he or Reid blew the coverage in the 3rd that gave up a 34-yard TD to Jeff Janis on a simple crossing route. It looked like man coverage, and Reid dropped back off of Janis at the line to pick up another receiver. Shouldn't the much quicker corner be chasing the 4.42 runner across the field instead of the big safety? Reid did have a nice pass breakup and made a nice play to submarine Michael Hill and stuff an edge run in the 3rd. He should still be very much in the mix at corner. With a poor missed tackle on Cobb and getting beaten by Jordy Nelson for a TD that got called back, Brandon McGee isn't running away with anything.

* Special teams: Very quiet game on special teams. To John Fassell's rare discredit, there's still nothing particularly clear or effective in the kick returner battle, where Givens still looks like the leader by default. Johnny Hekker (43.8 avg) punted well, and Bobby Cowan would have averaged about 48 yards a punt himself had one not gotten kicked backwards by a teammate. Three misses in a row now for Greg Zuerlein, though, who was wide right from 55 in his only attempt, unless you count these goofy 33-yard extra points. I don't think we really want to hit the regular season without Legatron on at least a little bit of a roll.

* Strategery: Leave it to Brian Schottenheimer to make preseason offense more boring than it already is. Too many runs on long-distance downs for my taste. Marshall Faulk called for screen passes for the Rams' overwhelmed 2nd- and 3rd-strings well before Schotty started calling any. Neither team blitzed as much as they did in last year's game, but the Packers remained in full-tilt no-huddle a lot of the time and full-time with the starters in. Gregg Williams sure got infatuated with what I'll call the “over” defensive line formation, sticking with it much too long while the Packers ran through the giant gap between Donald and Quinn. The weirdest coaching decision of the night, though, was the Packers going for TWO up 16-7. What the hell was that? If you're proactively trying to prevent a tie, then shouldn't you go for it on 4th down up 18-7 instead of kicking the FG to make it a very tie-able 21-7? Ah well, viva preseason.

* Upon further review: All the news is about the high number of penalties being called this preseason, and the Rams had another 10 this week, but I don't see the referees making calls they shouldn't. Angling for a promotion, regular line judge John Hussey should have helped his prospects with a surprisingly good game. The crew called pass interference well, especially Andrew Quarless' ridiculous shove-off in the end zone in the 3rd. The radio crew thought Sims had gotten flagged for his perfectly clean goalline hit on Tolzien in the 2nd, but that was for something away from the ball. At least it better have been, or this grade is coming down. B+ I'll say NFL officiating has been surprisingly competent so far this year, even as I dread the possibility of the Rams getting Jerome Boger or the truly abysmal Bill Vinovich on opening day.
* Cheers: Attendance was probably around 40,000, helped by a healthy contingent of Cheeseheads, especially in the lower deck. There have been upgrades at the Dome this year besides the speakers. On the bottom level, at least, there's a wider selection of food available. If you're inclined to spend on stadium-priced food, look around down there first. The local BBQ is good. The “Taste of St. Louis” stands – one's around section 120 – have something called “Strange Donuts”, which I'm inevitably going to end up trying. They try to advertise food during the game with a clip of the interview babe and Takeru Kobayashi, but first, I see nothing new on the plebeian, ER, upper level, and then Kobayashi doesn't eat anything anyway, when he's kind of famous for eating stuff. Maybe later this season they can have Joey Chestnut come in and nibble on some carrot sticks.

* Waiver bait: The Isaiah Pead Era in St. Louis appears to have come to an end, not with a bang but with a most unfortunate pop, a blown ACL on the Rams' first kickoff return. I'm not sure he'd have made the team anyway. Four-fifths of the offensive line the Rams fielded at the end of the game probably shouldn't make the cut to 75. Green Bay's waiver bait is definitely WR Gerrard Sheppard, who dropped a certain TD because he heard Maurice Alexander's footsteps. Shouldn't have any trouble hearing the Turk coming, then.

* Who’s next?: Cleveland's really getting their moment in the sports sun this summer, so the Rams will try to steal some rays when they visit for the supposedly-most-important preseason game Saturday night. It sounds like Brian Hoyer will start at QB. I'd rather see Johnny Football, not because I'm a sucker for hype (I am) but because his similarities to Russell Wilson make him a better test for the regular season. The Browns field what could be a very good offensive line, so “Sack City” would have to step it up even if they were coming off a good game. Hoyer and Manziel don't have the greatest set of targets to hit, besides Josh Gordon, who isn't suspended yet. Any game-planning would be best directed at covering the tight end. It's an offense still getting untracked, settling for four FGs in Detroit (they play Washington Monday night). The defense lost its top two tacklers from last season, didn't have a player with as many as six sacks, and only got one in Detroit. The Browns have a lot invested in their secondary, which should be a good challenge for the Rams' young receivers. With the potential that most of their starters will play, the Rams should fare better in the trenches than this week, and Bradford should be able to move the offense with some rhythm, or something's really wrong.

-- Mike
Game stats from nfl.com
Pictures from espn.com if any are posted

Injury news: Pead, Jones may be done for season

USA Today
Injury news from last night's 21-7 loss to the Packers: (RamView is still on the way)

- Isaiah Pead's knee gave way on him on the Rams' first kickoff return and it is believed he tore an ACL. An MRI on the knee was scheduled for today. This more than likely closes the books on the Rams' botched third pick of the second round in 2012. A promising college player at Cincinnati, Pead never clicked for the Rams at RB or as a returner. The mental part of the game did not seem to come easily to him, he did not protect the ball well as a runner, he got into Jeff Fisher's (seemingly very, very small) doghouse and got into trouble off the field. It wasn't for lack of effort, but some people don't have the makeup needed to make it in the NFL, and Isaiah Pead is one of those guys. He'll spend this year on I.R. and attempt a comeback in training camp next year, but I don't know why he'll make it in 2015 after a year of rehab when he really didn't deserve to make this team in 2014. Best of luck to you, Isaiah, always keep fighting, but I'd use the time off the field here to get ready for the next stage of my adult life in your shoes.

ESPN

- And as long as we're talking about blown draft picks, Jeff Fisher first let the word out today that 2013 fourth-round pick Barrett Jones had back surgery LAST WEEK (thanks for the timely news on that, everyone) and is likely to miss "significant time" this season. Jones was one of the best linemen in the country, at three different positions, at Alabama, but why did he fall to the 4th round in 2013? Injuries. He was frequently hurt at Alabama, missed most of his first season here due to a Lisfranc injury he got with the Tide, and before he could even take the field in anger this season, he's down again. Injuries were the risk any team would have taken in drafting Jones, and it's backfired on the Rams. Hey, I thought he was a great pick, too. Thought he was worth the injury risk. I would also have bet wrong. (I also liked Pead, too, so maybe I should just give up the "shadow GM" gig.) Jones may be able to contribute here in 2015, but the odds seem much better that he'll injure or re-injure something else and he'll end up stepping away from the game. He's a very gifted young man who doesn't need football to be successful.

Obviously no word yet on how the Rams plan to fill the two roster vacancies that have just unwelcomely popped up here. In Les Snead's shoes, I'd be looking for any two offensive linemen with a pulse this afternoon.

Pead's injury probably locks down a roster spot for Chris Givens as the main kickoff returner, and could open up an opportunity for Trey Watts at RB, though Chase Reynolds remains the favorite for RB3/RB4 and should have beaten Pead out anyway as a special teams specialist. Jones' injury probably locks down a roster spot for Mike Person and leaves the Rams stuck with Tim Barnes at center when Scott Wells inevitably goes down again. Looks like that will be a position to watch for in free agency and the 2015 draft.

Update from Jeff Fisher's press conference: Pead is officially out for the season but Fisher is only ruling Jones out for the rest of preseason, a big step back from what the NFL Network crawl says. Demetrius Rhaney will also miss "some time" due to an injury (knee, iirc) suffered this week in practice.

-$-


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rams report, 8/13: injury updates and a roster move

StLouisRams.com
Is it good or bad that this has been the least eventful training camp in St. Louis Rams history? Even at my awful pace of keeping RamView up to date, I haven't fallen all that far behind. Nothing's happening! Here's a little bit of catchup for this week since the Rams' first preseason game (recap just posted here earlier):

* Current injury report:
Out:
Michael Brockers (ankle) - is said to be moving well while working on the side and may return to full action soon
Matt Daniels (undisclosed) - apparently injured in Saints game
William Hayes - practiced Monday but was off Tuesday. Hayes has been on the mend from offseason surgeries to his hip, ankle and collarbone.
Janoris Jenkins (hamstring) - day-to-day
Barrett Jones (undisclosed) - day-to-day
Kadeem Jones (hamstring) - suited up for first time in camp Wednesday
James Laurinaitis (ankle) - day-to-day
Rodger Saffold (stinger) - day-to-day
Brandon Washington (undisclosed)
Darren Woodard (undisclosed) - apparently injured in Saints game

Wednesday's practice was just a special teams walkthrough, so there wasn't much to update on the injury/participation front.

Jeff Fisher has already announced Sam Bradford will play in Saturday's preseason game against the Packers. I would guess a couple of series. Much past the first quarter would be a big surprise to me.

On the offensive line, Scott Wells sounds like a good bet to play Saturday. I do not expect to see Jake Long, though he is practicing. Defensively, it sounds like Kendall Langford and Trumaine Johnson are practicing and will be able to play.


* Mason Brodine suffered a broken ankle in the game against the Saints and he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. To fill (part of) big Mason's roster spot, the Rams signed the much-smaller (6'2" 235) Brad Smelley, a former Alabama tight end who on the Rams practice squad for three days last season and no one told us. He finished last season with the Texans and was cut there last month. Smelley was drafted by the Browns in the 7th round in 2012 and spent most of that season on their practice squad.

Very quick scouting report: reliable receiver with soft hands, good blocker, good effort player. Not quick in any direction. Won't gain any separation as a route-runner. Will get pushed around by NFL-caliber defensive players. Not a refined blocker, plays out of control, needs to improve technique. Not powerful in the lower body.

Smelley's mainly suited to be a H-back/fullback type player in the NFL, which puts him squarely at FB2 on the Rams' depth chart behind Corey Harkey. His most practical mission will be to do something to impress another team while he's here.

-$-