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2018 Los Angeles Rams Roster Preview: ILB Cory Littleton earns his chance

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Will Littleton’s presence in the middle help Rams fans forget about their former leader of the defense in Alec Ogletree?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams shocked the NFL world when they traded their starting ILB and captain of the defense in Alec Ogletree to the New York Giants. What was perhaps most shocking about the trade was that just five months prior, the Rams had handed Ogletree a massive four-year, $43m dollar commitment to make him one of the highest-paid inside linebackers in the entire NFL.

Regardless, the Rams moved on. That’s where ILB Cory Littleton comes in.

By way of the depth chart, Littleton became next in line for the throne at the ILB position. Littleton played sparsely in 2017, starting four games and playing in all 16. He registered 36 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one interception, and many more impact special teams plays as one of the key pieces for Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel.

Littleton surprisingly was named the team’s rookie of the year in 2016 over QB Jared Goff.

Now, he gets a chance to run with the starting defense in 2018.

Roster battle

Veteran ILB Mark Barron is locked into one of the starting spots, though with the Rams running a 3-4 defense they’ll require two inside linebackers when not operating out of the nickel. Littleton is absolutely receiving first-crack at replacing Ogletree not only as a linebacker, but the signal-caller for the defense too.

Other players to look at are veteran Bryce Hager (roster preview), newly-signed Ramik Wilson, and rookies Micah Kiser, Travin Howard (roster preview), and Tegray Scales (roster preview).

Expectations

My expectations may be far too high for Littleton as a starter, but I truly expect no drop-off when compared to Ogletree. I do believe Littleton possesses the potential to be an upgrade, which is quite a terrific position to be in considering the cost savings the Rams created by trading Ogletree.

Look for Littleton to be used similarly to Ogletree as a blitzing LB with plenty of tackles.

Chances of Making Final Roster (9/10)

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I think it’s close to a lock that Littleton makes the roster. It could be considered quite an achievement for an undrafted free agent to be nearly guaranteed a roster spot.