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2019 Los Angeles Rams roster preview: DT Tanzel Smart attempts to crack rotation

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Third times a charm, right? Tanzel Smart is hoping that’s the case as the third-year defensive lineman looks to earn consistent playing time.

NFL: Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into his third season as a Los Angeles Rams player, DL Tanzel Smart is looking to earn a steady role in the rotation of defensive lineman. Up until now, the former sixth-round draft pick has bounced around between the inactives list and the bench, hardly garnering any playing time outside of a short spurt in 2017.

Roster Battle

The defensive line battle is one of the tougher positions on the roster to evaluate. Veteran DT Michael Brockers and superstar DT Aaron Donald are surefire starters, though the potential for playing time behind them is available. Rookie fifth-round pick NT Greg Gaines has a good shot to start at nose tackle on base downs, with Sebastian Joseph-Day as a sneaky candidate to earn reps behind him. Other guys who’ll factor in on the defensive line are John Franklin-Myers who may play more 5-tech/defensive end, and Morgan Fox who’s making the switch back to having his hand in the dirt after a short stint at outside linebacker in 2018.

Expectations

The expectations for Smart should be to simply crack the 53-man roster. If he’s able to impress in training camp and during the preseason, that goal should be attainable. Regardless, Smart isn’t likely to be a major factor on the defensive line in 2019.

Chances of making the final roster (4.5/10)

For a player on the back-end of the roster, Smart actually has a decent shot to make the roster. The battle will likely come down to Smart versus Morgan Fox. The leg up for Smart is Fox is still recovering from a torn ACL in 2018 that ended his season before it started.