With the luster of excitement about the informal workouts being held by the St. Louis Rams players this week all but gone, fans and the media have moved on to using the practice sessions to speculate about the team's roster for 2011. The defensive line was excused from the no contact affair. So was the offensive line, but that didn't stop a number of linemen from showing up to practice. But for players on the proverbial roster bubble, not being there could be a big problem.
Among the notable offensive linemen not at "practice" this week are starting LT Rodger Saffold and potentially starting RG John Greco. Saffold's place on the roster is pretty secure. The Rams' other rookie sensation from last year has been working out in Florida at the IMG Academy with some high profile partners like Cam Newton and Josh Freeman.
John Greco's whereabouts are a little more under-the-radar, and given that he's fighting for a starting job this year the question was raised as to why he's not practicing with his teammates. Contingency plan or not, the Rams felt strongly enough about Greco to give tender the RFA at the third-round level. With just three years accrued experience, Greco is an RFA no matter what rules the league eventually adopts for 2011. A third-round tender isn't exactly going to break the bank in terms of salary, but they could have offered him a lesser RFA tender.
If Greco's working out and shows up to training camp (assuming there is a training camp) playing competitively then all this will have been for naught. It does make you wonder, but with offensive linemen, missing these practices isn't as big of a stretch, not like it is for, say, a wide receiver...
The receivers and the quarterbacks have the most to gain from these practices. They're learning a new play book and getting the chance to run routes with their quarterbacks, which makes Mardy Gilyard's absence that much more mystifying. As you recall, Gilyard struggled to learn the play book last year just as he struggled with injuries. If any player needs every rep they can get, it's Gilyard.
Of course, his future with the team is already a little shaky after the Rams drafted two receivers in the 2011 NFL Draft, and figure to have a dozen players competing for six roster spots. It's even stranger since Gilyard has been working out in the St. Louis area this offseason. We've heard that the Rams worry that Gilyard's parties too much, but we have no way of confirming how much partying is too much for a 25-year-old or what exactly Gilyard has been doing with his lockout offseason. We do know that Gilyard still does not have his full range of motion back on his injured wrist.
Another player not at the workouts: Mark Clayton. He's not under contract, but neither is Daniel Fells and Adam Goldberg, who were both practicing this week. Clayton, however, probably gets a little bit of a pass given his veteran status and likely re-signing with the team once the season begins. That said, I still wouldn't write his name on the roster in ink yet, especially if he's lost something after a nasty patellar tendon tear.
Who's at the workouts and who's not at the workouts is subject to much interpretation. Like we said, some guys have much more reason to be there than others...and need every chance they can get to make a good impression. Wait and see what happens when training camp rolls around, if it does. Then, you'll see who put in the work during the lockout and who didn't.