Training camp is in full gear. Players are getting energetic, fired up and chippy, so much so that a bit of a scuffle broke out during the final scrimmage drills on Monday. Jobs are on the line and everyone knows it. Only a handful of fringe players appear to have earned themselves jobs, though.
Here's a look at some players on the bubble who are standing out thus far.
WR Nelson Spruce
Nelson Spruce has been making some noise. He may not have the dynamic potential of Brian Quick or Duke Williams, but Spruce is the best route runner of the three and certainly has the surest hands. Spruce shows quick feet, gets low in his breaks and explodes out of them, and locates the ball well in the short to intermediate level. In an offense lacking receivers who can be reliable pass catchers, Spruce can fill that void.
The Rams' wide receiver depth chart is cluttered with a number of roster-worthy players, but none of them provide the same consistency and inside/outside versatility as Spruce.
LB Cory Littleton
On the other side of the ball, the Rams have the chance to add some athleticism to their linebacking corps. Many of the backup linebackers have been stiff and nonexplosive during drills. That is not to say they are all bad football players or can't be valuable, but their ceilings are limited in terms of playmaking. Cory Littleton is the odd man out. Littleton can move. He can get low, explode out of his stance and flow in space. At Washington, he was a speedy edge rusher who played on or near the line of scrimmage. Even though he is still learning the ropes as an off-ball linebacker, Littleton has enough athleticism and motor to be worth investing as a player on the backend of the 53 man roster. If he never blossoms into a quality linebacker, so be it, but his athleticism and potential would be a change of pace for this backup linebacker corps.
CB Jabriel Washington
The secondary is a big question mark for the Rams, but Jabriel Washington might be able to be a partial answer. As cliche as it is, Washington looks the part. He is not a towering figure, but his 5'11" frame and long arms provide plenty of length, and he sports a lean, athletic build. Washington is not skilled or ready enough to be a heavy contributor, but he has the tools to be a solid depth player. In drills and scrimmages, he plays with fire and makes an effort to be one of the most noticeable players on the field every time he steps on it. As a fifth cornerback, Washington makes sense.
LB Josh Forrest
If any of the draftees lost their roster spot, it would more than likely be Josh Forrest. As a long time starting linebacker for Kentucky, Forrest proved he had the physicality and leadership skills desired by the NFL, but his athleticism and general awareness are lacking. He is a rusty athlete, especially in regards to his hips. Forrest fails to accelerate well and muster up power in short areas. He also struggles to make smooth transitions in space, making him a liability as a cutback/misdirection run defender and as a coverage player. At best, he is a two down player who can be a battering ram and eat blocks on run downs.
OT Jordan Swindle
Jordan Swindle could be the surprise offensive lineman to make the roster. He does not provide great athleticism or create massive run lanes, but he's a fighter. Swindle gives it his all and will scrap with defenders until well after the whistle has been blown. In the run game, he is physical and has no reservations about getting in a player's face and abusing him. If he was kept, it is unlikely that he would see the field much, but he could give peace of mind to the coaching staff in case of an injury.
RB Terrance Magee
Finally, despite the open competition for the third (and maybe fourth) running back slot, Terrence Magee is out of the running for a job. He does not provide anything as a runner that Chase Reynolds and Malcolm Brown already provide. On top of that, rookie Aaron Green is much more dynamic and creative than Magee could dream to be. As a third down player, Magee is not an option. He does not have the pop in his hands or flow in his movements to protect at a high level, nor does he have value as a pass catcher. Magee is a limited downhill runner with little else to offer.