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2016 Rams Roster Preview: S Christian Bryant Steadily Climbing Up

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In 2015, former Ohio State Buckeye captain Christian Bryant was battling safeties Cody Davis and Maurice Alexander for a backup/ST role, behind starters FS Rodney McLeod and SS TJ McDonald. Now, with McLeod in Philadelphia, Bryant has a legitimate shot to earn a starting job. Is he finally ready?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As was discussed in last year's roster preview for Bryant, he has steadily improved in health since battling an ankle injury suffered his last year at Ohio State. He earned a promotion to the active roster in October 2015, seeing limited time on special teams and finishing with a handful of tackles.

Bryant clocks in at about 5'9, and has a similar profile to nickel cornerback (and Florida State safety) LaMarcus Joyner. He consistently plays with a chip on his shoulder and with solid reactions. He has no fear at high speeds, which perhaps has led to some durability concerns.

Here are his college highlights from Ohio State. He plays with his hair on fire:

Roster Battle

What's interesting is that Bryant will once again battle safeties Cody Davis and Maurice Alexander for the free safety job. The difference is that he has a much better chance of sticking this year, if he can stay healthy and show he can be a special teams ace.

Davis has seen plenty of second team preseason snaps at free safety, and was a special teams contributor, being active for twelve games in 2015. Davis was re-signed on a 2-year deal this offseason, so he's safe.

Fisher, who has a history of telling the media lots of things that don't always happen, mentioned that Alexander has a shot to earn the starting free safety job. After TJ McDonald went down with an injury on December 6th, 2015, Alexander was the next man up at strong safety and started the final five games there.

So, it's possible that Alexander's game experience will give him an edge if it comes to Bryant vs. Alexander. From what DC Gregg Williams says, though, it's unlikely that Alexander won't make the team. So, it will likely come down to Bryant vs. another player. Bryant has been running with the 1's in OTA's, along with Cody Davis, but that doesn't mean much until camp hits.

Expectations

Bryant models himself after Rodney McLeod, according to an interview with ESPN's Nick Wagoner, and thinks he is finally ready to compete at the highest level:

"When I first came in, I was still struggling with my ankle and it was bothering me a lot," Bryant said. "But at that time, it was really a point in my life where I was trying to build my self esteem and my mentality back up because that was probably one of the hardest moments of my life just to bounce back from this and just believe again that I can play at a high level and sustain it. I think I've come far from there and right now I am doing all the right things and I feel like my confidence is at an all-time high right now."

As mentioned, both Bryant and McLeod were considered undersized for their position but showed the range and hard-hitting willingness that are hallmarks of a Gregg Williams safety. The job is Bryant's to win if he can execute:

"It's a good group," Fisher said. "Christian Bryant is coming on, really taking advantage of this opportunity. Cody understands the position; he's got some game experience. We've got a couple young guys that we'll have to look at in a game, when things are live and they are in a pressure situation."

Chances of Making Final Roster (8.5/10)

The Rams typically carry five safeties. Last year McDonald, McLeod, Alexander, Davis and Mark Barron were the safeties. Barron is now a linebacker, and McLeod is gone. That leaves McDonald, Alexander, Davis and Bryant as the only safeties with experience. The only other safety that realistically can push Bryant is Brian Randolph.

The Rams could still sign free agents Dashon Goldson or Donte Whitner, but the chances of Bryant making the team are still much better than not at this point.