The St. Louis Rams made a surprising roster move, trading their fifth-round pick DE Hall Davis to Washington in exchange for their sixth-round pick TE/FB Dennis Morris. With a 75-man roster due tomorrow and the final cut down on Saturday, what does this move mean for the Rams depth chart?
The Rams have Morris listed at FB on their roster page. That Mike Shanahan said Morris would not make the team, you have to wonder if this isn't a move designed to give them a FB for their Thursday preseason game, as speculated by Mike Sando, with the hope that he might be what they're looking for in a backup FB.
Morris is another hybrid TE/FB, similar to what we've seen from Michael Hoomanawanui. Versatility is the key word with Morris, something the Rams expect from their depth players. It's no lock that Morris will make the final 53-man roster, just as it was for Hall Davis. That said, this is a move that could impact three positions: TE, FB and RB.
One thing to watch will be Morris' pass blocking ability. He could appeal to the Rams as third down specialist based on that and his ability as a receiving weapon. Mike Karney's job is probably safe, but given his injury history the Rams are wise to have a backup plan in place. Hoomanawanui has displayed enough to probably earn the starting TE job over Daniel Fells. Given that, it wouldn't make sense to have "backup full back" listed toward the top of his job description.
Last year the Rams kept 3 tight ends and 4 running backs, lumping full backs into this spot, on the final roster. Right now they have 5 TE and 6 RB. Obviously, they have some decisions to make.
Starting with TE, let's take a look. Michael Hoomanawanui has a spot sewn up. Behind him it's a little murky. The odds on favorites would be Billy Bajema and Daniel Fells to round out the position. That would mean putting Fendi Onobun on the practice squad, which could still happen, but it seems unlikely as the team believes their project pick is further along than they thought he would be and he would most certainly get plucked away by another team. Special teams play factors in heavily with this group as well, and Onobun's been contributing there as well. I think they'll keep Onobun on the final roster, making the decision between Fells and Bajema.
Remember, the Rams were willing to let Fells walk this year in declining to extend him an RFA tender. That should tell you something. I'm guessing the Rams will go with Hoomanawanui, Bajema and Onobun at tight end.
At RB there is much left to be determined. Steven Jackson will probably not play this week. No surprise there. The Rams need to make a determination as to which running backs will be staying on the roster. Ogbonnaya is still practice squad eligible, so is Keith Toston. Kenneth Darby had a little better showing against the Patriots, and will need to go all out on Thursday against the Ravens if he wants to stick around.
Jackson and Karney are obvious, leaving two more spots behind them. Coach Conners had a really good post last week that put all three of the backups RBs under the microscope. This is a tough race to call at this point, though I'd say Darby probably gets the nod all things being equal since they can stash the other two on the practice squad. Ogbonnaya probably gets the nod as the fourth RB to make the final cut, for now. Morris could wind up the practice squad as well. More than anything, this group will be the one to watch as the Rams conclude their preseason auditions against the Ravens this Thursday. Of course, a pickup off the waiver wire is still a very real possibility.