The defending champion Los Angeles Rams are set to begin training camp on July 29 at UC Irvine and expectations will remain high for a team that aims to repeat with Matt Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Bobby Wagner, and Jalen Ramsey forming the nucleus.
Complementary players will include Cam Akers, Allen Robinson II, Tyler Higbee, Joe Noteboom, Rob Havenstein, Leonard Floyd, Ernest Jones, and Jordan Fuller. Yet, there remain a few position groups with intriguing battles to play out over the course of camp. It is these competitions, the hunger, that will be a part of the groundwork laid in an attempt to hoist another Lombardi in consecutive years.
POSITIONAL BATTLE #1 - TE2
Brycen Hopkins vs. Kendall Blanton vs. Jacob Harris
While rarely featured in the 2021 regular season, both Hopkins and Blanton produced in big moments during the playoffs. Even though Blanton has more experience, Hopkins enters Year 3 with more upside as a former 4th rounder. *Note* - It took Higbee three years to absorb McVay’s system. As for Jacob Harris, I believe the plan will remain the same with him - using him as a hybrid piece, not keeping him exclusively in the tight-end room.
Prediction: Brycen Hopkins
POSITIONAL BATTLE #2 - RG
Logan Bruss vs. Tremayne Anchrum vs. Bobby Evans
I actually believe this will end up being a two man race before long. Sorry Bobby Evans.
From OTAs, it appears Tremayne Anchrum is a candidate to start. He will contend with Logan Bruss, who is likely to be the long-term option. Don’t expect Anchrum to go quietly, in fact it might be in the Rams best interest for Anchrum to prove himself capable; allowing Bruss to become the future left guard in 2023.
Prediction: Tremayne Anchrum
POSITIONAL BATTLE #3 - 8TH/9TH OL
Bobby Evans vs. Jack Snyder vs. AJ Arcuri
While likely to not be an immediate impact, the 8th and 9th OL spots are worth watching. Why? Injuries happen and having backups fill in for a game or two is key. Coleman Shelton and Alaric Jackson proved their value in 2021. On the flip side, Bobby Evans revealed the lack of depth for LA in 2020 (playoffs).
Prediction: Bobby Evans and Jack Snyder
POSITIONAL BATTLE #4 - 5TH/6TH DL
Marquise Copeland vs. Earnest Brown IV vs. Michael Hoecht
This might be my favorite position to watch. With Donald, AShawn, Gaines, BBIII locked into spots, I’m curious to see who Coach Henderson develops into the 5th and 6th spot for the DL rotation. It’s important to keep the defensive line fresh throughout the season so I imagine 6 bodies will make the roster. Hoecht was active a lot, but made little impact. Copeland got more consideration towards the end of the year and in the playoffs. But Earnest Brown IV has the profile and speed to be the best option as a pass rusher which the Rams covet. *Note* - This is a position to watch for in terms of league wide cuts. Los Angeles has seen its former players poached on waivers in previous years. Something tells me they might return the favor this year at this position.
Prediction: Earnest Brown IV and Marquise Copeland
POSITIONAL BATTLE #5 - EDGE (SLB)
Justin Hollins vs. Terrell Lewis
Can Terrell Lewis stay healthy and unseat the incumbent Justin Hollins? Hollins might be the safe bet, but he is prone to disappearing in games and he didn’t exactly light the world on fire after returning from injury last year. Lewis enters Year 3 with all the focus centered on the condition of his knee. Perhaps this position comes down to a run/pass situation timeshare.
Prediction: Justin Hollins
POSITIONAL BATTLE #6 - SS
Taylor Rapp vs. Nick Scott
I continue to tease the idea that Los Angeles should try to trade Rapp to free up the logjam of safeties on the roster while purging an extra $2 million in salary. That move could happen if Nick Scott beats Rapp out for the position. With the way Scott played in the playoffs, his stock has only climbed. Burgess’s development also factors into this equation.
Prediction: Nick Scott
POSITIONAL BATTLE #7 - CB3
Robert Rochell vs. David Long Jr
David Long Jr enters the final year of his contract with a lot to prove in order to earn a pay raise in free agency. After his Week mid-season benching, he did return with more consistency. But Rochell exhibited the ability to handle the outside in Year 1. My one concern for Rochell is that we didn’t see him against above average competition outside of San Francisco.
Prediction: David Long Jr
POSITIONAL BATTLE #8 - P
Riley Dixon vs. Cameron Dicker
Both punters are entering their first year with the LA Rams. Dixon does have experience with ST coordinator Joe DeCamillis. Dicker, on the other hand, carries punting and kicking experience. He might be just a practice squad member at this point. Regardless, with Hekker gone, the punter position is not solidified for the first time since 2012.
Prediction: Riley Dixon
I will revisit these developments during training camp as the team practices and readies for preseason action. Be sure to vote below in the poll to cast your predictions and please add your feedback in the comments section.
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Which LA Ram will impress the most in camp?
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Earnest Brown IV
David Long Jr