The Los Angeles Rams are nearing the end of training camp, though the work has just begun with preseason game one on the horizon.
With a handful of practices under their belt, we can officially begin to piece together the puzzle that is the 2019 season. Sure, plenty of jobs are still available to be won and lost, though the indications are clear in terms of certain players being valued higher than others.
Taking a look back at training camp and the players’ performances, let’s throw together a stock up and down categories:
NT Greg Gaines
When the Rams drafted Greg Gaines in the fifth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft, his name was prematurely penciled in as the starting nose tackle, replacing the departed Ndamukong Suh. Looking back, clearly it was premature. Thus far, Gaines has clearly been behind starting NT Sebastian Joseph-Day, who was a day three draft pick himself. Gaines may or may not make up ground in the preseason, though it seems the Rams are happy with SJD’s progress thus far by handing him the first crack at a starting job.
ILB Micah Kiser
Like Gaines, Micah Kiser was the defacto replacement for the departed Mark Barron. And once again, the Rams thus far have chosen to ride the veteran route by giving ILB Bryce Hager majority of the first-team defensive reps next to ILB Cory Littleton. This one I can’t understand, simply because we know what Hager is at this point. Kiser could fare good or bad, but the question is one worth answering.
EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Ogbo has yet to recover from his nagging injuries that caused him to miss the entirety of his rookie campaign. Not only that, but now he’s missing the start of his second training camp. If Ogbo can’t get healthy and show some flashes of play in the preseason, his time could very well be dwindling. The preseason is going to be of the utmost importance for Okoronkwo.
WR Cooper Kupp
The health of Cooper Kupp was certainly going to be a hot training camp topic as Kupp was returning from a torn ACL in 2018. Well, good news. Kupp is practicing at full speed. He’s participated in fully padded practices, been tackled, and has generally been moving very well. Kupp looks to be fully healed from the injury that withheld him from a potentially strong string of playoff performances.
NT Sebastian Joseph-Day
Not much was expected from SJD entering training camp, though the Rams’ brass have been impressed with Joseph-Day thus far. With Ndamukong Suh parting in free agency, the Rams were presented with a major hole at nose tackle, with a lot of reps being available for the taking. Up until this point, SJD seems to have a strong stranglehold on the starting spot at nose tackle.
EDGE Dante Fowler Jr.
The Rams decided to re-sign Dante Fowler Jr. to a one-year deal in free agency, extending their look at what they believe could potentially be a tremendous pass rusher in the NFL. Well, so far, so good. Fowler has been highly impactful and energetic coming off the edge in training camp, though it should be taken with a grain of salt with the lack of pads/intensity at times. Still though, Fowler has been seen practicing after the end of training camp practices with RT Rob Havenstein, refining his technique and pass-rush moves. That should inspire a lot of confidence in the coaching staff.