The Los Angeles Rams went into 2016 with a very strange philosophy at linebacker: Don’t use them.
Needless to say, Jeff Fisher’s foray into a primary nickel defense (if you count Mark Barron as a true linebacker) didn’t exactly work well. When the Rams transitioned back to a traditional defense, LB Josh Forrest found limited playing time, but ended up on the injured reserve to end the season after last year’s ACL injury.
The back-up linebacker battle should be on your radar. The Rams have the top spots locked down due with Barron, OLB Robert Quinn, OLB Connor Barwin and ILB Alec Ogletree penciled in, but beyond that, it’s all untested depth.
Forrest is currently on the depth chart as an inside linebacker, along with Nic Grigsby (roster preview), Cory Littleton (roster preview) and Bryce Hager (roster preview) in depth positions. None of them are McVay additions, so it’s anyone’s guess as to who will stick behind the starters.
Forrest had a tough go with injuries, but he was good enough to see the field his rookie year (by merit or by Jeff Fisher; your choice). He’ll likely get every opportunity in the preseason to play with the second and third teams, and it’s his impact there that will make the difference.
Chances of Making Final Roster (5/10)
There wasn’t much depth last year at linebacker, but a scheme change throws that into limbo. If Forrest can show he’s capable of holding the middle of the field with the second string, he’s probably got a fair chance to stick around.
However, if he can’t make a difference outside of special teams, that just might not be enough with a new regime.