The Los Angeles Rams' first preseason game of 2016 is in the books. Securing a win in the preseason does not hold value come regular season, but the process of the Rams' win over the Dallas Cowboys gave insight as to which players may or may not find themselves on the final 53-man roster.
Roster Battle Updates
WR Nelson Spruce (again)
Nelson Spruce had arguably the best night of any Rams player in the second half of Saturday night’s game. When the team got down to the red zone, Spruce proved to be the gamer that he is. He made on leaping catch on a ball that Sean Mannion threw too high, followed up by another quick catch that he scored on. Following that drive, the coaching staff fed Spruce with a handful of screens ans short passes, one of which came on a 4th-and-2 situation that he converted.
Spruce is a gamer and absolutely deserves a spot on the team.
RBs Malcolm Brown and Aaron Green
Both young running backs had noteworthy performances versus the Cowboys. Brown, the sturdier and more traditional of the two, ran with urgency. He was shrugging off tacklers left and right, showing off his ability to trudge downhill and pick up tough yards between the tackles.
Green, on the other hand, is a shifty, fast runner. He had an electric week of practices and carried that energy over into the game. He’s not the toughest runner, but if he gets into space, he is dangerous. Green’s quick feet and nimble change of direction make him difficult to get a piece of. At worst, Green could serve to be as a change of pace runner to the perimeter and have value as a pass catcher.
Which #Rams RB impressed you most vs. #Cowboys— Brandon Bate (@NoPlanB_) August 14, 2016
DL Cam Thomas
Thomas had a rough first outing as a Ram. He was hit with one offside penalty and almost jumped the gun a second time. Thomas appeared to be trying to use the snap count to his advantage because his lower body explosion isn’t there. When he was coming off the ball at the same time as everyone else, there was no explosion in his first step and he failed to gain ground quickly. Thomas’ strength did not go anywhere and he proved to be a fine run defender, but the possibility of being him any sort of play maker seems slim.
With a stacked defensive line group, not being able to make ‘wow’ plays is a fast lane to the waiver wire.
C Demetrius Rhaney
The Rams have great depth along the offensive line. There are versatile, strong pieces at their disposal. Rhaney is not one of those players. Out in space, Rhaney looks like a functional player. He’s athletic and the angles that he takes can work. The Rams employ a lot of downhill concepts, though, and Rhaney does not have power to be a serviceable player. He struggles to absorb contact and his ability to create push is near nonexistent. As a pass protector, he lacks the sand in his pants to hold his ground against some of the stronger, more active defenders that he faces. With Eric Kush (another center) now also on the roster, Rhaney appears to be expendable.
RB Chase Reynolds
Although Reynolds is a fan favorite, it’s going to be a battle for him to retain his roster spot.
As a running back, he is a hard nosed, fairly strong down hill runner. That has value, especially with the Rams, but Brown provides the same skill set. In fact, Brown is more athletic and dynamic than Reynolds while still providing a tough, determined presence as a runner. Reynolds will have to get by on special teams play, but he is limited there, too. He is not going to make it as a returner over other more slippery players on the roster, yet his ability as a special teams defender is not elite. His whiffed tackle on the opening kickoff of the Dallas game opened up a can of worms that ended in a Cowboys touchdown a few seconds later.