The St. Louis Rams released their first depth chart of the season, the regular season, on Tuesday. First, let's be clear that it's NOT OFFICIAL. Under Jeff Fisher there's been a feeling that depth charts are just something the league makes you do, like report injuries. At any rate, it's a useful guide. Let's take a look.
This is from the Week 1 game release depth chart that the team sends out to the media. It's a little different than the depth chart the Rams have posted on the official site.
WR: Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey
TE: Jared Cook, Cory Harkey
LT: Jake Long, Joe Barksdale
LG: Chris Williams, Shelley Smith
C: Scott Wells, Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones
RG: Harvey Dahl, Brandon Washington
RT: Rodger Saffold, Joe Barksdale
WR2: Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin
QB: Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens
RB: Daryl Richardson, Zac Stacy, Chase Reynolds, Benny Cunningham
TE: Lance Kendricks, Mike McNeill
Offensive line depth feels shaky at this point. The starting five looks better than it has in years, but if any of those players go down, it's a dicey proposition. With Jake Long, the Rams have some protection in Saffold, who could move over to the left side and play at a better than average clip. In the middle, the depth looks sparse behind Dahl and Wells, the two oldest players on the team.
The backup center job looks like it belongs to Barnes. No surprise there. Jones got a late start in camp because of foot surgery in the offseason.
Have you ever thought maybe we're all wrong on Brian Quick versus Austin Pettis? Quick's inconsistencies are maddening, and apparently the coaching staff isn't satisfied enough with last year's second-round pick to get him in the lineup over Austin Pettis.
Running back might be the most notable spot of all. Isaiah Pead is out this week because of a suspension. Surely I'm not the only one who sees this and thinks Pead isn't slotting right back into one of the top two spots?
LDE: Chris Long, William Hayes, Gerald Rivers
LDT: Kendall Langford, Matthew Conrath
RDT: Michael Brockers, Jermelle Cudjo
RDE: Robert Quinn, Eugene Sims
ROLB: Will Witherspoon, Daren Bates
MLB: James Laurinaitis, Jonathan Stewart
LOLB: Alec Ogletree, Ray-Ray Armstrong
LCB: Cortland Finnegan, Trumaine Johnson, Brandon McGee
RCB: Janoris Jenkins, Quinton Pointer
SS: Darian Stewart, Rodney McLeod
FS: T.J. McDonald, Matt Giordano, Matthew Daniels
The defensive line is a good reminder about why there is a limit to depth charts. Yeah, we know which four players are going to be the "starters," but with so many sub packages, guys like Hayes and Sims will see nearly as many snaps.
After Week 4, the Rams have a decision to make at linebacker. That's when Jo-Lonn Dunbar returns from his four-game suspension. They'll obviously need to make a move to get him on the roster. Do they cut Stewart or Bates, hoping to slip them back through to the practice squad? That would be my guess, so keep an eye on how those players do with limited work through the first month.
Rodney McLeod is listed as the starting free safety for Week 1. Stewart has been dealing with a hamstring injury, and his status for this week is unknown. The question here is whether or not McLeod hangs onto the job, giving Stewart the old Wally Pipp treatment. Also worth noting on the safeties, the "strong" and "free" designations are mostly technicality. The Rams defense uses the two interchangeably.
H: Johnny Hekker
LS: Jake McQuaide
PR: Tavon Austin, Austin Pettis
KR: Benny Cunningham, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens
Congrats to Benny Cunningham on earning the starting kick return job. The Rams are smart not to put too much onto Austin's plate. Here again we're left to wonder how Pead fits into the mix when he returns for Week 2.