It’s only Week 1 of the NFL 2022 season and the Los Angeles Rams are already dealing with the fallout of injuries. For tomorrows game versus the Atlanta Falcons, starters Brian Allen (center) and Van Jefferson (wide receiver) are out, while Leonard Floyd (edge), Joseph Noteboom (tackle) and Matt Orzech (long snapper) have all been limited in practice and are questionable.
The wounded list was not limited to starters. Running back and special teams (ST) player Kyren Williams went down and two practice squad (PS) players, Trey Ragas (running back) and Daniel Isom (safety) fell as well. The Rams coaching and scouting staffs moved quickly and made corresponding moves to fill the roster holes.
In: Ronnie Rivers
Another in the Rams line of seemingly under-sized running backs at 5’ 7” and 195 lbs. He also fits their profile with versatility, football IQ, and hot motor. Rivers is not particularly fast (4.6 forty at the NFL Combine), but has solid contact balance, vision, and burst. Sort of the undrafted free agent (UDFA) version of Kyren Williams— a player who has an overall well-rounded skillset, but is not outstanding in any single facet, except production.
Rivers did it all at Fresno State. He rolled up over 5,000 yards of all-purpose yardage and 52 touchdowns, at over six yards per touch. He ran behind zone blocking schemes and his tape shows stellar patience. sharp cuts, and burst through running lanes. One area of concern are injuries, he had a string of ankle/foot nicks and an elbow problem in college. Nothing major enough to make him sit out a string of games and he showed toughness playing through them, but at his size, it’s something to keep aware of.
Out: Kyren Williams
A rookie season filled with bad luck continued to dog the fifth round rookie out of Notre Dame. In the first quarter of the Rams season opening loss, Williams went down a high-ankle sprain that will require surgery and need six weeks to convalesce. It was his second lower leg injury of 2022. He earlier suffered a broken foot in OTAs that also required surgery and forced him to miss a large portion of preseason workouts.
Out: Trey Ragas
Was placed on the PS injured list Thursday, shelving the largest Rams running back on the roster for at least four weeks. At 5’ 11” and 222 lbs., Ragas L.A.’s downhill, power back and gave glimpses of his ability to move the pile in preseason action. During said games, he had 73 yards on 21 carries, a touchdown, and one lost fumble.
In: Jeremiah Kolone
Kolone has bounced back and forth between the Rams roster and PS since being signed as a UDFA, out of San Jose State, in 2019. This past offseason, he moved to center full-time and showed solidly in preseason games.
With starting pivot, Brian Allen, out for up to four weeks, Kolone becomes the primary backup piece on the interior of the offensive line. Allen’s injury moves Coleman Shelton over to his more natural role at center, with Tremayne Anchrum stepping in at right guard and David Edwards, trying to come back from a poor opening game, on the left side. Any mishap amongst those three puts Kolone into action.
In: Oday Aboushi
Signed to the PS on Wednesday, the 31 year-old, 6’ 5” 315 lb. guard has nine years of NFL experience. Over that time, he has bounced between eight teams and only garnered 47 starts. His Pro Football Focus scores average around 60.0, raging from from a high of 71.2 on 722 snaps in 2014 to a low of 52.6 on 558 snaps in 2017.
Special teams/Long snapper
In: Matt Overton
The Rams signed the 37 year-old journeyman on Tuesday as an emergency option at long snapper. It looks as if he could be thrown right into fire, starter Matt Orzech strained a knee in the Bills loss and has not practiced much all week.
Overton was a five-year starter for the Indianapolis Colts from 2012-16, gaining a Pro bowl berth in 2013. After that, he made stops, as a backup, in Jacksonville and Tennessee, sat out 2019, and landed as the San Diego Chargers snapper last season.
Out: Daniel Isom
Another player placed on the PS injury. The type or extent of the ailment was not reported. Isom was signed by the Rams as a UDFA safety out of Washington State. he was a longshot to make the field, but his play in preseason impressed the L.A. braintrust enough to add him to the PS. He’s a shade under 6’ and weighs in at 191 lbs and showed some aggressive play in preseason games. He will now be out for a minimum of four weeks.
Wide Receiver / Special Teams
The Rams activated Jacob Harris from the practice squad in time to play in Week 2.
Will any of these changes move the needle?
Short answer—not much, if any. Jeremiah Kolone had a good preseason, but is a known Rams quantity, and simply offers backups the interior. All three new additions, Ronnie Rivers, Oday Aboushi, and Overton were signed to the practice squad. They haven’t been in-house long enough to grasp enough of the schemes to be activated for the Falcons game. Although with long snapper Matt Orzech day-to-day with his tweaked knee, Overton could be pressed into service right away
I have long been a Fresno State fan and watched Rivers his whole career. He’s a gamer who will give the Rams a full day’s work. He is a willing runner, receiver, blocker, and can return punts. As much as I like to see former Bulldogs get their shot, I would prefer to see L.A. sign a running back from the Todd Gurley mold. A big, fast one-cut-and-go type would development back.
Aboushi adds a NFL veteran presence at guard and has some tackle experience background as well. but his past shows him to be of backup quality. Personally, I thought Chandler Brewer’s guard play in preseason was as good any of the others, particularly if the Rams stay with the inside and mid zone blocking and should give him a first look. If not, why keep him around? His spot on the PS could be filled with a young developmental player.