A handful of players will make their case for a starting job on the St. Louis Rams roster this weekend.
With the first preseason game less than 24 hours away, it seemed like a good time to get a primer on where the various position battles stand for the St. Louis Rams. Things have changed a little since the start of training camp up and down the roster. The picture should be a little more clear, or far less so, after Sunday's game against the Colts.
This wasn't even a position battle heading into camp, but we should be less than surprised that it is now. Free agent addition Barry Richardson jumped Jason Smith on the depth chart in practice during the last week, and it looks like the former Chief will be starting the game on Sam Bradford's right side.
This is a really a test offensive line coach Paul Boudreau and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Richardson was a revolving door in Kansas City. Smith has struggled with consistency and health in St. Louis. Will either one show enough to calm fears about the right side of the line?
Quinn Ojinnaka has been taking most of the snaps here. He moved outside to replace Rodger Saffold in practice, and Bryan Mattison moved into his place. Both should get ample reps with the starters on Sunday.
Rokevious Watkins, a fifth-round pick, is the dark horse. After reporting to camp out of shape, the South Carolina product worked with the third team and occasionally the second.
This is less a position battle than finding out where players fit in the offense. Brandon Gibson has been working with the ones opposite Steven Smith with Danny Amendola in the slot. Watch closely to see who else gets reps with Bradford under center.
DC has plenty more on the receivers here.
Lance Kendricks is the starter, but the order behind him gets messy. Kendricks is battling himself to get over the metal roadblocks preventing him from living up to his talent.
Janoris Jenkins has the second corner's job locked down. Already, Jeff Fisher is using the term elite to describe the second-round pick. He should be really fun to watch in a Rams uni.
Bradley Fletcher has moved into the third spot, working on the outside in the nickel package while Cortland Finnegan slides into the slot. It could be a very effective trio. Watch Fletcher closely to see how he moves after having his ACL repaired again last year.
Trumaine Johnson and Jerome Murphy are making the case to be the fourth corner on the roster. So far, Johnson leads that battle. Both players have talent in need of some molding. Watch to see how they do the basics. Which one is the better tackler? Who stays on his man better? Can they sit in a zone and make the right reads? And what about special teams, since the corners will be expected to contribute there?
Jo-Lonn Dunbar looks like he has claimed the weak side spot, earning glowing reviews from Fisher and Dave McGinnis in training camp. Mario Haggan has done most of the work on the other side. Veteran Rocky McIntosh can expect to see reps with the starters on Sunday, on either side of James Laurinaitis.
Among the younger players, Josh Hull has seen an increased work load on the outside lately. Keep an eye on Aaron Brown, a seventh-round pick, and UDFA Sammy Brown. Both have a nice, but raw mix of talent.
This is one of those spots where Fisher will be mixing looks early, to get guys reps with and against the starters. McIntosh could unseat one of the other veterans.