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Key Rams Starters Returning..and None Too Soon

Through two preseason games, the Rams have been without numerous key starters forcing backups into roles they won't be holding come week one. That's changing against the Browns on Saturday.

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Michael Hickey

Through two preseason games, the Rams have been forced to shuffle some backups into the starting lineup. Injuries to key players on both sides of the ball pushed guys like OT Sean Hooey, CB Marcus Roberson and LB Ray Ray Armstrong into the front. As it's the preseason, that's not all that impactful.

Consider, though, the effect on guys like Greg Robinson, Lamarcus Joyner and Alec Ogletree. As they continue to travel up the steep climb of the NFL learning curve, they've been forced to do so in two preseason games (in the cases of GRob and Joyner, their first NFL action at all) without the assumed starters alongside them.

Both Sam Bradford and Scott Wells returned last week, and to good measure. Sam is, obviously, as crucial a component as you'll find on the team. Wells, quietly, regained his status as one of the better centers in the league as PFF noted in their season preview for the Rams. Now, though, the Rams are looking at a half dozen others that are nearing full health and game readiness.

Jake Long, Rodger Saffold, Michael Brockers, William Hayes, James Laurinaitis and Janoris Jenkins have all sat out the Rams' first two contests. That's five starters and a guy in Hayes who has contributed 63 tackles and 12 sacks over the last two seasons. Hardly someone on the fringes...

All that being said, there's a chance all six are back in action against the Browns this weekend. Long, Brockers and Jenkins are all but confirmed to go. Saffold's a likely go just needing clearance from head athletic trainer Reggie Scott. Laurinaitis is yet to get 11-on-11 snaps, but he has said that if it were the regular season, he wouldn't have sat out. Hayes is perhaps the furthest away, though he's been working with trainers the last couple days to get back into the mix.

That being said, we're closer to a much more representative starting 22 than we have been. As good as that is to see even in the preseason, it's probably better for the young guys in the mix who need to develop the kind of chemistry you only get from being tested in the heat of battle that comes after kickoff.