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Rams vs. Broncos: Reading the snap counts

Roster cuts are coming Tuesday. Do Saturday's snap counts tell us anything about who is on the bubble for the Rams?

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams have less than a week before the fourth and final preseason game. In between now and then, Jeff Fisher and his staff have to cut 15 players from the roster, taking it from 90 to 75 players. Is there anything to glean from the snap counts from Saturday's game against the Broncos?

Hurry up offense

The Rams struggled against Peyton Manning and the Broncos putting their foot on the gas pedal with a hurry up offense. James Laurinaitis and the defensive starters played 53 snaps in the first half this week. That's not much less than they'd play in a normal game. More and more teams are going with the hurry up this year. The Rams will have to find a way to stop them.

The defensive line did more rotating during the first half.

Note: I'm going to leave out the starters, mostly.

Offensive line snaps

Backup linemen saw plenty of snaps in the second half. That's one area of the roster where the decision making will be scrutinized as the coaches try to figure out which players are the best backups as well as factoring in things like versatility.

Look at these snap counts for the backup OL:

Brandon Washington, 30
Ty Nsekhe, 28
Barrett Jones, 27
Tim Barnes, 25
Shelley Smith, 16
Chris Williams, 28
D.J. Young, 16

Washington's been working at guard and tackle through camp and the preseason. His snaps at guard have been more productive than at tackle. He's definitely on the bubble, and figures to get another look in Week 4.

Barrett Jones isn't going anywhere, but that means the Rams have to make a decision about Tim Barnes in the order of things at center. Jones can play guard too, so it's possible that Barnes sticks around too.

Smith and Williams are battling for the starting left guard job. Williams started last night. I feel like Smith's done a better job than Williams.

Depending on how injured Ryan Lee is, he could be released with an injury settlement at this week's deadline. D.J. Young could be out too as the Rams give Nsekhe and Washington a closer look at tackle next week.

Receiver snaps

Stedman Bailey, 28
Brian Quick, 27
Austin Pettis, 24
Nick Johnson, 8
Emory Blake, 6
Justin Veltung, 1

Bailey played seven snaps on special teams, which ate into the snaps available for the fringe candidates on the roster. Out of the last three players on the list above, Veltung had five special teams snaps. It's going to be tough for any of those three guys to make the final roster.

Special teams leaders

Corey Harkey, 12
Chase Reynolds, 16
Eric Stevens, 12
Benny Cunningham, 11
Cody Davis, 13
Ray Ray Armstrong, 17
Jonathan Stewart, 16
Matt Daniels, 15
Josh Hull, 14
Darren Bates, 18

Bates and Armstrong have made some hay with their opportunities on defense. They're getting the special teams snaps to go with, a good indication that these two have a real shot at the final roster, or at least the practice squad.

Special teams play will likely be the deciding factor for deciding between Reynolds, Cunningham and Stevens, all running backs. Cunningham's kick returns may save his spot on the final roster.

Daniels and Hull are established special teams starters.

Andrew Helmick played exclusively on special teams, getting five snaps.

Tight end

Zach Potter, 15
Corey Harkey, 14
Phil Lutzenkirchen, 12

Without Lance Kendricks, Harkey had extended playing time with the ones. He also caught an 11-yard pass from Bradford that would have been a great play for Kendricks. Harkey seems like a lock if the Rams keep four tight ends. If they keep three, it's between him and McNeill for the final spot.

Defensive backs

First the corners ...

Trumaine Johnson, 42 
Darren Woodard, 32
Robert Steeples, 22
Andre Martin, 22
Brandon McGee, 0 (one snap on special teams)

It looked as though Johnson has regained his foothold on the third corner job. The lack of play for McGee is surprising. I didn't see anything about him leaving the game.

Woodard made the highlight reel with his interception. Could he be in line for one of the last cornerback jobs on the roster?

Now the safeties ...

Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald played all 53 snaps with the starters. Jostling between McLeod and Darian Stewart, who was out with his hamstring injury, could be the most interesting, important position battle happening between now and the regular season.

Cody Davis, 35
Ray Ray Armstrong, 21
Rashard Hall, 18

Notice Armstrong back at safety and not linebacker? The Rams seems to be finding ways to keep him on the roster, with special teams work, linebacker duties and some safety play.

Cody Davis has a shot to make the roster too. We still haven't seen veteran safety Matt Giordano much this month.

Defensive linemen

Chris Long only played 22 snaps on Saturday night. Of course, it's not like he needs them. William Hayes did a lot of work with the starters.

Gerald Rivers, DE, 30
Matt Conrath, DT, 26
R.J. Washington, DE, 26
Al Lapuaho, DT, 26
Mason Brodine, DE, 19
Garrett Goebel, DT, 19

Jermelle Cudjo didn't play in this one. He's close to returning, but not there yet. Since Cudjo's job as the third defensive tackle is fairly secure, that opened up more playing time for the others. Matt Conrath, an undrafted rookie from Virginia the Rams added last year, seems to be cementing a spot on the final roster as the fourth tackle.

Rivers subbed for Eugene Sims last week, and had a solid outing. He turned that into more playing time this week with the second team. With early season suspensions giving the Rams some flexibility early with roster spots, they may opt to carry a couple extra defensive linemen.

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