St. Louis Rams 2013 roster battles: Fisher expects to name left guard soon; safety spot opens

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

One open spot on the roster is coming into focus, and another one opens up as the preseason nears an end.

The St. Louis Rams may be close to wrapping up one position battle. Elsewhere on the roster, another job may suddenly be up for grabs.

"We may be ready to make an announcement this week at some point," Jeff Fisher said about the starting left guard job.

Through camp and three preseason games, Chris Williams and Shelley Smith have been battling for it. Fisher has rotated each one in the starting spot from game to game. On Saturday against the Broncos, Chris Williams made the start.

Smith has edged Williams in preseason snaps, 79 to 57. Both players were credited with allowing a sack through the first two preseason games. Smith and Williams have also played elsewhere along the line; Williams at right tackle, Smith at both guard spots.

"The flexibility at the left guard spot and then a little bit of right tackle here and there for us," Fisher said Sunday. "It's been good. Shelley's moving around a little bit and playing left guard, right guard. We've got depth there. We'll have some hard decisions."

It's pretty close to a draw between both players. If I were making the decision, I'd lean toward Smith as the starting left guard. The versatility shown by both players means they're each likely to have secured themselves a roster spot, starting or not.

On the other side of the ball, the second safety position has opened ever so slightly. Darian Stewart had the job to start camp, but a hamstring injury kept him out through much of the exhibition season so far, for the second year in a row. Rodney McLeod has worked in his place, forcing Fisher's hand just a little with his strong play.

"Typically, guys don't lose their jobs because of injury," Fisher said, "but we'll just re-evaluate it when ‘Stew' comes back."

The coach also praised McLeod's play this week in his day-after press conference.

"I think Rodney's really played well," Fisher said. "He tackled well. He's in the right place. He's a good player, so we'll be fine there."

Pointing out the tackling issue is interesting. Stewart has struggled with that this year and in the past. He led the league in missed tackles in 2011. The defense has had a problem with bringing call carriers down through the preseason; it was better against the Broncos.

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