It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Rams have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL heading into training camp. With that being the case, there certainly isn’t a lack of competition on the roster as the team began training camp this week.
On Thursday, the Rams completed their second day of practice. While it’s still a small sample size and we only have a limited amount of information, there is still plenty to update when it comes to some of the position battles. Let’s take a look at what we know so far.
Third Wide Receiver
The wide receiver position behind Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson will be one to keep an eye on throughout training camp and the preseason. Ben Skowronek, TuTu Atwell, DeMarcus Robinson, and Puka Nacua will all be in contention for those snaps.
Nacua has picked up where he left off after OTAs which was extremely important to his development. If he can continue to handle what the Rams coaching staff throws at him, he may actually earn a role in the offense heading into the regular season. The Rams’ Stu Jackson reported on Thursday,
“So far, training camp has been a continuation from OTAs and minicamp for rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua, as the Rams continue to test him and give him a sizable workload. He showed reliable hands when connecting with Stafford on a couple passes in Thursday’s practice.”
It is worth noting that Nacua left the field on a cart due to “cramps”. At BYU last season, he dealt with hamstring, ankle, and lower leg injuries. He also left the Senior Bowl after day one because of an injury. For Nacua to win this competition, he’ll need to show reliability and take care of his body.
Two days into training camp, very apparent the Rams are continuing to test and give big workload to rookie WR Puka Nacua just as they did during OTAs and minicamp.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) July 28, 2023
It’s far too early to say that Nacua has the early lead as the third wide receiver in the Rams offense. However, he’s shown that his performance during OTAs wasn’t a fluke.
Rams Rotating Offensive Linemen
The early reports at this point suggest that the Rams have been rotating their offensive linemen in training camp. That’s specifically the case at left tackle where the Rams have rotated Alaric Jackson and Joe Noteboom and then Brian Allen and Coleman Shelton have rotated at center.
It will be interesting to see how long the Rams stick with a rotation. At some point, they’ll need to find their best five in order to start building continuity and cohesion along the offensive line.
Noteboom was limited during OTAs while Jackson missed the final week for personal reasons. This seems neck-and-neck at this point in time. At center is where things get interesting. If Allen comes out on top, Shelton will likely just move to right guard. That’s not necessarily the case with Allen. In the case that Shelton wins the battle at center, the Rams will likely be looking at Tremayne Anchrum or Logan Bruss at the right guard spot.
According to The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue,
“Anchrum has also looked great at guard so far (caveat though no pads on yet). So far Bruss seems to be working in a reserve role but there is so much camp and preseason left so nothing is decided.”
The offensive line is one of the primary focal points among fans this offseason. It’s going to be difficult for the offense to succeed if Matthew Stafford isn’t protected. The Rams need to find their best five offensive lineman. As of now, who those best five are is still up in the air.
No Clarity At Edge Rusher
One of the more important competitions in training camp is at edge rusher. The Rams need to be able to generate pressure on the quarterback and that starts on the edge. This is a very young and unproven group with Michael Hoecht and three rookies who were selected in the draft.
With that said, it might be awhile before we begin to get some clarity on who the starting edge rushers are in Week 1. It’s also very possible that it remains a rotation and who the starters are listed as doesn’t matter. Here’s what McVay had to say about the young edge rushers on Wednesday,
“That’s such a young group, particularly at that outside linebacker position, and so you’ll see guys rolling through a bunch of different groups. I wouldn’t make too much of who’s rolling with the ones who’s rolling with the twos early on in camp. We just want to see these guys get reps in these actual 11-on-11 settings. (I’m) seeing a lot of improvement from those guys and they all bring a little bit different skill sets to the table.”
Byron Young and Michael Hoecht will continue to be the favorites here as the day one starters. However, it seems like the Rams’ primary goal here is to get these guys as many reps as possible.
Young Safeties Making Plays
The Rams have one of their starting safeties in Jordan Fuller. Behind him however, there is a lot of opportunity for young players to earn their way into either a starting position or simply on the roster.
On Wednesday, Tanner Ingle was reported to get his hands on a few passes. The undrafted free agent reportedly broke up a Matthew Stafford pass intended for Cooper Kupp. Russ Yeast got involved as well. However, the biggest play in this group was a pick-six by Rashad Torrence. As described by Stu Jackson,
“Rookie safety Rashad Torrence had a perfectly-timed interception to end practice, jumping in front of Rypien’s pass over the middle during redzone work. Torrence was then followed by his defensive teammates celebrating the play as he ran down the sideline after making the play.”
That continued on Thursday as well. Quentin Lake had an interception on quarterback Stetson Bennett according to Rodrigue and Ingle once again got his hands on the ball with a pass breakup.
Quentin Lake with a pick early in team drills, intercepting a Stetson Bennett pass over the middle.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) July 28, 2023
At this point, it’s still hard to tell who has the early lead in the position battle. However, undrafted free agents like Torrence and Ingle are making a good early case for themselves.
- Rookie Zach Evans seems to be getting the typical treatment of first year players. There has been some speculation that Evans has potential to cut into Cam Akers’ touches or even replace Kyren Williams as the complementary running back. However, in a video from Rodrigue on Thursday, it looked as if Evans was starting at the back of the depth chart. It is worth noting that he missed some time during OTAs.
RBs drilling, led by new position coach Ron Gould. Akers, Williams, Michel, Rivers, Evans. pic.twitter.com/SHWNRNkusp— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) July 28, 2023
- It will be interesting to see whether the Rams keep two or three quarterbacks on the roster heading into the season. Stetson Bennett seems to be looking the part early on in training camp. With that said, Brett Rypien has experience in the offense. On Wednesday, Rodrigue noted that Rypien and Bennett appear to be competing for the backup quarterback spot.
- At cornerback, there have been some questions as to who will be starting where in the secondary. In the early days of camp, Cobie Durant appears to be preparing for the star role left by Jalen Ramsey. Ahkello Witherspoon has also grabbed the attention of the coaching staff. Withspoon almost had an interception on Thursday and could be in line for a starting role. There is still a potential competition to be had between Robert Rochell and Derion Kendrick for a starting spot on the outside. Rochell had a pass breakup on Wednesday, but outside of that, there isn’t much to report in that area.