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2016 Rams Roster Preview: S T.J. McDonald, The Hitmaker

The fourth-year starter has been a solid member of the secondary. Can he step up to make the back end elite?

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. McDonald came to the Rams as a third-round pick out of USC in the 2013 NFL Draft. The former Trojan came in to the league with the reputation of a hard-hitting box safety with limited coverage abilities. Entering his fourth season in the league, T.J. still is known for his hard-hitting style and his coverage limitations.

Flaws aside, T.J. is a rock at the strong safety position for the Rams. He is perfect for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' defense. Williams' various schemes and looks play into McDonald's hard hitting tendencies.

Roster Battle

McDonald has been the Rams' starting strong safety since his rookie year. He is in no danger of losing his starting job. He is, however,  in danger of missing a few games due to his non-alcohol related DUI arrest earlier this offseason. So, the obvious battle to keep a look on is among the reserves.

Third-year player Maurice "Mo" Alexander (roster preview) is the next guy up to fill at strong safety, but he is involved in another roster battle for the starting free safety gig, so that might nix him out of the equation.

Undrafted rookie Rohan Gaines (roster preview) might be in line, but do not expect the UDFA rook to get much playing time.


As mentioned above, T.J. is a lock at strong safety. He is heavily involved in stopping the run, and – though limited – is solid in coverage. Expect him to knock a few heads loose.

Chances of Making Final Roster (10/10)

DUI aside, T.J. has nothing to worrying about. He is the secondary's designated headbuster and body guard.