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2017 Rams Roster Preview: S Isaiah Johnson, Take Two

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A practice squad call-up in 2016, Johnson is looking to bypass the first step and jump straight into the 53-man roster in 2017.

Los Angeles Rams S Isaiah Johnson
Los Angeles Rams S Isaiah Johnson
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rosters in the NFL aren’t really built. They’re cultivated.

They are made and re-made over time through multiple iterations, reversals and prioritizations. It’s not a thread; it’s a woven quilt of multiple threads crossing over each other into a single, cohesive structure.

Isaiah Johnson saw the weaving up close.

An undrafted free agent in 2015 out of Georgia Tech, Johnson was scooped up by the Detroit Lions after the 2015 NFL Draft before being cut, signed again and then waived.

His second professional season spent with the Los Angeles Rams was no less invariable. Johnson was signed to the initial practice squad roster, bumped up to the active roster and then released a week later to bring him back down to the practice squad only to bring him back up in December.

For much of the labor pool in the NFL, the roller coaster of roster churn isn’t a one-and-done proposition. It’s an ongoing battle to remain employed.

Perhaps nobody on the Rams’ 90-man roster in 2017 exemplifies that more than Johnson.

Roster Battle

While there’s plenty going on in front of the safety position for the Rams in training camp in 2017 for new Defensive Coordinator Wade Philips, it might lowkey be one of the most interesting position battles.

Maurice Alexander and 2017 NFL Draft third-round pick John Johnson are likely the starting duo, though perhaps they’re competing for a single role with a second safety slot open for competition. Prior to the draft, there were some suggestions that CB Lamarcus Joyner could spend some time at safety.

Beyond those three, it could seemingly be a two-man battle between Johnson and veteran Cody Davis.

Expectations

This one’s a little tough to gauge. He’s got experience, but experience’s value is diminished by the coaching staff turnover.

The bigger question is special teams. Normally a stockpile of guys that don’t really compete much at their positions, the value on guys who make the 53-man for teams might require a different calculus in 2017.

Chances of Making Final Roster (4/10)

The one thing helping Johnson’s chances is the lack of alternatives. If nothing else, he’s a strong candidate to pop-up, much like his last two years, as a mid-season update,