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2015 St. Louis Rams: Preseason Roster Battles To Keep An Eye On

The 2015 edition of the St. Louis Rams will be the deepest and most talented in the Snead/Fisher era. Intense roster battles are about to begin for ten or fewer spots on the team. Who will make the final cut?

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With the Rams entering the OTA phase of the offseason, it's a good time to take a peek at how the roster is shaping up. There will be intense battles for the few spots available on the final 53-man roster. Some familiar faces might not be in the horns for the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks. The team that emerges in September will undoubtedly be the most talented (and deepest) in the Fisher/Snead era.

St. Louis Rams Current Roster And Depth Chart

C Barrett Jones Tim Barnes Demetrius Rhaney David Wang
RG Rodger Saffold Brandon Washington
LG Jamon Brown Cody Wichmann Travis Bond
RT Rob Havenstein Garrett Reynolds Darrell Williams
LT Greg Robinson Andrew Donnal Steven Baker
TE Lance Kendricks Cory Harkey Brad Smelley Zach Laskey
TE Jared Cook Alex Bayer Justice Cunningham
WR Brian Quick Damian Williams Devon Wylie Tyler Slavin Daniel Rodriguez
WR Tavon Austin Chris Givens Emory Blake Isiah Ferguson
WR Kenny Britt Stedman Bailey Bud Sasser Bradley Marquez
RB Tre Mason Benny Cunningham Chase Reynolds Malcolm Brown
RB Todd Gurley Isaiah Pead Trey Watts Terrence Franks
QB Nick Foles Austin Davis Case Keenum Sean Mannion
PK Greg Zuerlein
P John Hekker Michael Palardy
LS Jake McQuaide Tyler Ott
DT Aaron Donald Nick Fairley
DT Michael Brockers Doug Worthington Louis Trinca-Pasat
DE Chris Long William Hayes Martin Ifedi Matt Longacre
DE Robert Quinn Eugene Sims Ethan Westbrooks
MLB James Laurinaitis Daren Bates Bryce Hager
OLB Alec Ogletree Marshall McFadden Korey Toomer Keshaun Malone
OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar Akeem Ayers Cameron Lynch
CB Janoris Jenkins Marcus Roberson Brandon McGee Imoan Claiborne
CB Trumaine Johnson E.J. Gaines Lamarcus Joyner Montell Garner
SS T.J. McDonald Mark Barron Maurice Alexander Jacob Hagen
FS Rodney McLeod Cody Davis Christian Bryant Jay Hughes
90 Players


8 Roster Battles To Watch

Quarterback - Case Keenum vs. Austin Davis

The Rams will likely carry three quarterbacks this season. Nick Foles is pencilled in as the Rams' starting QB. 2015 3rd round draft selection Sean Mannion will also make the final 53-man roster. He'll need to be groomed for a season before challenging for a starting role. Case Keenum and Austin Davis will battle it out for the position of Foles' primary backup. The winner likely won't be determined until the final roster cut down. A very close contest.

Running Back - Isaiah Pead vs. Trey Watts vs. Malcolm Brown

The Rams carried 5 running backs on the roster last season. Given their renewed commitment to the running game, they'll likely carry 5 again in 2015. Todd Gurley, Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham are locks for the 3 top positions on the depth chart. Chase Reynolds is a much-valued core special teams player. That leaves Pead and Watts fighting for the remaining spot on the roster. Pead tore his ACL in the preseason, and missed the entire 2014 season. Pead has been a disappointment since his selection in the 2nd round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He becomes a Free Agent after the 2015 season. Watts made the roster last season as an UDFA, taking Pead's place on the depth chart. The decision on who to retain might come down to special teams value and/or the Rams' reluctance to give up on a 2nd round draft choice. Watts' just-announced 4-game suspension for substance abuse won't help his cause any:

Given Watts' suspension, 2015 UDFA Malcolm Brown could make a strong push for the final spot if Pead falters during the preseason.

Tight End - Alex Bayer vs. Justice Cunningham

For most of the 2014 season the Rams carried at least 4 TE's on the roster. It's reasonable to expect the same number this coming season. The Rams re-signed Cory Harkey and Lance Kendricks in the offseason. The pair, along with Jared Cook, are locks to make the roster. Alex Bayer and Justice Cunningham will renew their 2014 battle for the final spot at the position. Bayer won the battle last year. The Rams went to great lengths to keep Cunningham on the team through the latter part of the 2014 regular season and the current offseason, jockeying him between the roster and practice squad. Who will win the battle this year? It will come down to how much the Rams value Bayer's pass-catching talent over Cunningham's superior blocking ability.

Center - Barrett Jones vs. Tim Barnes vs. Demetrius Rhaney

The Rams released Scott Wells in the offseason, and didn't address the position in Free Agency or the draft. They did re-sign Tim Barnes, after declining to tender him as a RFA. How much does the team truly value him? The Rams appear confident of finding their starting center from among Barnes, Jones and Rhaney. The group lacks experience, with Barnes the only one among the three that has started a game (4). Jones has missed 22 games in his first two seasons with the Rams. A much-decorated collegian at Alabama, Jones will need to stay healthy to have any chance at earning the starting role. Jones' versatility across the line might be his best attribute. Rhaney spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve. The former 7th round draft pick is apparently well-regarded by the Rams organization. On an offensive line that will be young and inexperienced as a whole, Jones and Barnes might hold the edge for roster spots based on their versatility and time with the team.

Rest Of The Offensive Line - Too Many To List

Former starters Jake Long, Davin Joseph and Joe Barksdale are no longer with the Rams, all three part of the "Great Offensive Line Purge" in the early offseason. The Rams went "Hog Wild" in the 2015 NFL Draft, selecting 4 offensive linemen to take their places. The Rams could carry anywhere from 8 to 10 OL on the final 53-man roster. They will likely settle on 9, given the composition of the projected roster. Greg Robinson, Garrett Reynolds and Rodger Saffold will all make the roster, as will the two centers already noted. Rookies Rob Havenstein, Jamon Brown and Andrew Donnal (selected this year in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds, respectively) will also make the roster. That leaves one spot remaining to be filled. Holdover Brandon Washington and 2015 6th round pick Cody Wichmann should be considered the frontrunners to complete the unit.

Cornerback - Brandon McGee vs. Marcus Roberson

Due to a foot injury, Brandon McGee played in only the first two games of the 2014 season. Before the 2014 NFL Draft, McGee appeared to be the No. 3 CB on the roster. The Rams added a significant amount of talent at the position via the 2014 draft (Lamarcus Joyner and E.J. Gaines) and the UDFA process (Marcus Roberson). As a result of those additions, McGee now finds himself in a battle just to make the roster. The Rams are likely to keep 5 CB's on the 53-man roster. Trumaine Johnson, Janoris Jenkins, E.J. Gaines and Lamarcus Joyner will all make the final roster. That leaves McGee and Marcus Roberson fighting for the final spot. The Rams are pretty high on Roberson, a player once regarded as a 1st round prospect. He went undrafted as a result of off-field issues, and may turn out to be an UDFA steal.

Linebacker - Jo-Lonn Dunbar vs. Daren Bates vs. Bryce Hager

The Rams' preference has been to carry only 5 linebackers on the roster. Given their extensive use of nickel and big nickel sub-packages, there's little need to have more than 5 LB's on the roster. James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree and Akeem Ayers are guaranteed roster spots. That leaves Dunbar, Bates and 2015 7th round draft pick Hager to fight it out for the remaining two spots. Hager gives the Rams something they haven't had in many a season: a true backup MLB. Given his athleticism, Hager would excel in a special teams role. Bates is a valued core special teams player entering his third season with the Rams. Dunbar provides the only true veteran presence behind the projected starters.

Defensive Line - Ethan Westbrooks vs. Louis Trinca-Pasat vs. Martin Ifedi

The Rams have been pretty consistent in keeping 9 defensive linemen on the 53-man roster. 2015 should be no exception. 7 defensive linemen are virtually guaranteed to make the roster: Chris Long, Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Eugene Sims, William Hayes and Nick Fairley. Westbrooks, Trinca-Pasat and Ifedi will compete for the remaining two spots on the roster. Westbrooks is versatile, has upside and a year of experience with the Rams. Ifedi (7th round 2015) and Trinca-Pasat (2015 UDFA) are intriguing additions to an already formidable DL. Trinca-Pasat may hold the edge over Ifedi, as the Rams are one DT short on the depth chart. Kendall Langford was released, Alex Carrington was not re-signed, and only one player (Nick Fairley) was brought in to replace them. Fairley, Sims and Hayes are all eligible for Free Agency after the 2015 season. The Rams will likely stash the loser(s) of this roster battle on the practice squad, in anticipation of potential Free Agent losses.

Which players make YOUR final 53-man roster?

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In an effort to keep Rams fans apprised of all roster moves and the salary cap, continuous updates can be found here and here.