Parsing the Rams practice squad

The Rams finalized their practice squad today, signing seven and waiting to finish the deal for the eighth spot. 

Here's who made the practice squad:

No surprise to see two defensive backs made part of the practice squad. CB Darius Vinnett, who finished the preseason with 6 tackles, earned a spot. S Eric Basseywill be added if he clears waivers after being cut in order for the Rams to sign CB RIcky Manning, Jr. That bolsters the Rams depth in the defensive backfield with nine DBs on the active roster (4 safeties and 5 corners: Chavous, Atogwe, Johnson, Brannon Condren (signed yesterday), Hill, Brown, Wade, Bartell, and Manning), and two more on the practice squad. 

Running backs, surprisingly enough, are well represented on the practice squad. The Rams got serious this year about adding blockers at those key positions not on the offensive line, such as TE and FB. Veteran FB Dan Krieder will do most of the blocking out of the backfield (Steelers fans already miss their "bruising fullback"), but coming off a torn ACL last season and dealing with a sore knee in camp this year, signing FB Russ Weil to the practice squad makes sense. Blocking will be more of an emphasis this season, that much is obvious. I'm really glad to see that they signed RB Lance Ball to the practice squad. He's a bit unorthodox as NFL rushers go, but he had a special camp/preseason getting extra reps with Steven Jackson holding out (more on Ball and Pittman first thing in the morning).

After last year's o-line disaster, I'm just a little surprised that only G Dustin Fry made the practice squad. Of course, he was really the only OL they had in camp eligible for the practice  squad other than Julius Wilson - claimed off waivers by the Bucs - who was man handled through camp. The Rams kept 9 linemen on the active roster, same as all other team in the division; keeping more fringe players for the OL would have meant trimming other areas of need, like defensive back. Depth linemen are easier to replace. Think about it: is OT Mark LeVoir better than anyone they could sign off the street? Not really, but a CB like Vinnett who played fairly well in preseason, learning the system, is harder to find. Besides, if the Rams were down to playing Mark LeVoir at OT, they're screwed anyway. 

WR Dereck Stanley was rewarded for his positive showing at camp with a practice squad spot. Stanley can return kicks in a pinch too. Remember, last season, with Dante Hall injured Stanley returned 20 kicks, averaging a healthy 25.5 yards per, the best average of any Rams returner last season.

It was good to see DE C. J. Ah You signed to the practice squad too. Ah You had a great camp, earning praise from Linehan and he racked up 12 tackles in the preseason, tied for third most on the team. He spent the last six weeks of '07 on the practice squad too.  

A need for depth close at hand likely helped LB Marc Magro get his spot. Magro had 9 tackles in the preseason, getting badly burned by the Chiefs Kolby Smith in the last preseason game. 

And there you have it, you're 2008 St. Louis Rams practice squad. 

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