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St. Louis Rams' Roster: Release, Final 53, Or Practice Squad?

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This is a busy week in the NFL. Teams are cutting down their rosters from 90 to 53. The Rams have many difficult roster decisions to make. Who will make the 53-man roster? Who will be signed to the practice squad?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams' first round of roster cuts - reducing the roster to 75 players - have now been completed. By August 30, 4.00 pm EDT, the Rams must further reduce the roster to 53 players. On August 31 - beginning at 12 noon - the Rams may begin signing players to the practice squad. Last week, The NFL/NFLPA agreed to expand practice squads to 10 players (from 8).

The Rams face some difficult roster decisions in the next few days. To further complicate the process, the team must make roster adjustments/decisions to deal with: the loss of Sam Bradford, Stedman Bailey's 4-game suspension, and injuries to Barrett Jones and Trumaine Johnson. Additionally, expect the Rams to scour the waiver-wire, searching for possible depth players at safety, linebacker, quarterback, and the offensive line.

The accompanying chart presents the Rams' current  75-man roster and depth chart, updated to reflect all transactions as of 11.00 pm, August 26:

C Scott Wells Tim Barnes
RG Rodger Saffold Davin Joseph Travis Bond
LG Greg Robinson Barrett Jones Brandon Washington
RT Joe Barksdale Sean Hooey
LT Jake Long Mike Person Mitchell Van Dyk
TE Jared Cook Justice Cunningham Alex Bayer
TE Lance Kendricks Cory Harkey Brad Smelley
WR Tavon Austin Stedman Bailey Austin Franklin
WR Brian Quick Austin Pettis Emory Blake
WR Kenny Britt Chris Givens Justin Veltung
RB Benny Cunningham Chase Reynolds Trey Watts
RB Zac Stacy Tre Mason
QB Shaun Hill Austin Davis Garrett Gilbert
PK Greg Zuerlein
P John Hekker
LS Jake McQuaide
DT Kendall Langford Aaron Donald Deantre Harlan
DT Michael Brockers Alex Carrington Matt Conrath
DE Chris Long Eugene Sims Michael Sam Kourtnei Brown
DE Robert Quinn William Hayes Ethan Westbrooks
MLB James Laurinaitis Phillip Steward Aaron Hill
OLB Alec Ogletree Daren Bates Etienne Sabino
OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar Ray Ray Armstrong Lawrence Wilson
CB Janoris Jenkins Brandon McGee Marcus Roberson
CB Trumaine Johnson Greg Reid Darren Woodard
CB Lamarcus Joyner E.J. Gaines
S Rodney McLeod Maurice Alexander Christian Bryant
S T.J. McDonald Cody Davis Avery Cunningham
IR Mason Brodine
IR Isaiah Pead
IR Sam Bradford
IR Demetrius Rhaney

The 43 players highlighted in bold are considered locks to make the final 53-man roster. Stedman Bailey and Barrett Jones would be locks, except for Bailey's suspension and Jones' back surgery. Roster space will need to be created upon their return to the line-up. Trumaine Johnson is likely to be out for 4-6 weeks with an injury. The Rams will carry him on the roster until his return. Although not locks, Mike Person, Chase Reynolds, and Brandon McGee should make the 53-man roster.

The accompanying chart presents the 33 players on the Rams' roster with practice squad eligibility remaining:

Position Player Position Player
S Maurice Alexander TE Alex Bayer
WR Emory Blake OG Travis Bond
DE Kourtnei Brown S Christian Bryant
DT Matt Conrath S Avery Cunningham
TE Justice Cunningham OT Sean Hooey
DT Aaron Donald WR Austin Franklin
CB E.J. Gaines WR Justin Veltung
CB Darren Woodard OT Mitchell Van Dyk
DL Ethan Westbrooks RB Trey Watts
TE Brad Smelley LB Phillip Steward
LB Aaron Hill LB Lawrence Wilson
DE Michael Sam OG Brandon Washington
LB Etienne Sabino OL Greg Robinson
CB Marcus Roberson CB Greg Reid
DT Deantre Harlan RB Tre Mason
CB Lamarcus Joyner C Barrett Jones
QB Garrett Gilbert QB Austin Davis

Practice squad eligibility requirements:

  • A player is eligible if he does not have an accrued season of NFL experience. Players gain an accrued season by being on the active roster for at least six games.
  • If a player has one accrued season, they can still be practice squad eligible if they were on the 46-man active game-day roster for less than nine regular season games.
  • A player is deemed to have served a season on the practice squad if he remains on the practice squad for at least three weeks. Players are eligible to be on the practice squad for two seasons.
  • Players can be eligible for a third practice squad season if their team maintains no less than 53 players on the active/inactive list at all times.

2014 draft selections Greg Robinson, Aaron Donald, Lamarcus Joyner, Tre Mason, and Maurice Alexander are all locks to make the final 53-man roster. Barrett Jones would be a lock, but his recovery time from back surgery is unknown at present. The Rams may place Jones on the IR - Designated-For-Return list. That leaves 27 players with practice squad eligibility. Of the remaining 27, who will make the final 53-man roster? Who will be signed to the practice squad?

Predictions

Waived (10)

  • Deantre Harlan
  • Avery Cunningham
  • Justin Veltung
  • Emory Blake
  • Kourtnei Brown
  • Brad Smelley
  • Sean Hooey
  • Lawrence Wilson
  • Etienne Sabino
  • Aaron Hill

53-Man Roster (7)

  • Alex Bayer
  • Ethan Westbrooks
  • Brandon Washington
  • E.J. Gaines
  • Greg Reid
  • Phillip Steward
  • Michael Sam

Practice Squad (10)

  • Justice Cunningham
  • Christian Bryant
  • Mitchell Van Dyk
  • Trey Watts
  • Darren Woodard
  • Austin Franklin
  • Travis Bond
  • Garrett Gilbert
  • Marcus Roberson
  • Matt Conrath

The accompanying chart is the projected roster, based on my predictions:

C Scott Wells Tim Barnes
RG Rodger Saffold Davin Joseph
LG Greg Robinson Brandon Washington
RT Joe Barksdale
LT Jake Long Mike Person
TE Lance Kendricks Cory Harkey
TE Jared Cook Alex Bayer
WR Tavon Austin Brian Quick
WR Kenny Britt Chris Givens Austin Pettis
RB Benny Cunningham Chase Reynolds
RB Zac Stacy Tre Mason
QB Shaun Hill Austin Davis
PK Greg Zuerlein
P John Hekker
LS Jake McQuaide
DT Kendall Langford Aaron Donald
DT Michael Brockers Alex Carrington
DE Chris Long Eugene Sims Ethan Westbrooks
DE Robert Quinn William Hayes Michael Sam
MLB James Laurinaitis Phillip Steward
OLB Alec Ogletree Daren Bates
OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar Ray Ray Armstrong
CB Janoris Jenkins Brandon McGee
CB Trumaine Johnson E.J. Gaines
CB Lamarcus Joyner Greg Reid
S Rodney McLeod Cody Davis
S T.J. McDonald Maurice Alexander
Practice Squad Reserve/Suspended Injured Reserve
Justice Cunningham Stedman Bailey Isaiah Pead
Mitchell Van Dyk Mason Brodine
Darren Woodard Sam Bradford
Austin Franklin Demetrius Rhaney
Marcus Roberson
Travis Bond IR - DFR
Christian Bryant
Garrett Gilbert Barrett Jones
Trey Watts
Matt Conrath