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Will Rams top pick from 2022 claim a starting job in training camp?

Logan Bruss’s time is now after a long road back from a serious knee injury

NFL: AUG 13 Preseason - Rams at Chargers
Logan Bruss moves vertically to attack a defender
Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For Logan Bruss, it’s been a long, winding road since the Los Angeles Rams drafted him at #104 of Round 3 in the 2022 NFL Draft. A competitive training camp gave way to a preseason schedule filled with promise. Bruss was on the cusp of securing a starting role as the Rams right guard, when, in an instant, his future evaporated.

64 plays into his pro career, Bruss tore the ACL and MCL ligaments in his left knee and was lost for the season. Now, after nearly a year of rehabilitation, he has returned to rekindle the promise. And he brings along a new perspective to match his newly repaired knee. Bruss told about his injury, rehab, and renewed spirit after L.A.’s workout on July 26.

“I’ve never dealt with anything like that before. So just kind of figuring out what the process was, and just the mindset needed for that, it took a while.”

“I just took the mindset of just having the best day I could possibly have every day, wouldn’t look too far ahead. Just kind of stayed in the present, just tried to win the day every day, and eventually that led me to here.”

“It was a long road back, and you realize you can’t take anything for granted. It can be taken away from you really quickly. So just having the opportunity to come back out here and feel good enough to play and compete again, is just an awesome feeling.”

As word filters out of Rams training camp about who has the early lead in position battles, there’s new pressure on Bruss’ and his second NFL camp, “Is he healthy enough to claw his way to the top of the depth chart?

A narrative that’s wrong

First things first, I completely disagree with the narrative that Bruss played badly before suffering the injury. Too much has been made of the highlight showing Bruss being knocked head over heels by the San Diego Charger Morgan Fox. Being dough-popped is a common occurrence in game where behemoth’s charge full speed into each other.

He was certainly not pushed backwards on a regular basis, in fact, he played quite well for a rookie getting his first taste of live NFL action. And he was not going up against 3rd or 4th string scrubs. In Bruss’ two preseason starts, he took on Morgan Fox, an ex-Ram who has 26 starts in his last two seasons and Houston Texans defensive tackle Roy Lopez, a player who has started 29 of his 33 NFL games.

No, neither are All-Pro’s, but a damn good test for a rookie’s first outings. Fox is experienced with very good get off and pass rush skills. He was a regular at Von Miller’s Pass Rush Summit. Lopez is power guy, cut low to the ground and a quick, strong punch.

What he did wrong

There’s not huge body of work in game situation film to try and diagnose his areas that need work, but a few do stand out. Where Bruss did lack in his debut was a mirror of his pre-draft analysis shortcomings. In pass protection, he was a bit slow with his hands, allowed the defenders punch to beat him, and had a few balance issues. He also lost his leverage a few times by getting his weight off center and too far over his feet.

Going forward, he cannot allow the opposition to make a habit of getting into his body and knocking him off his base. These are correctable technique issues and as much as you work on them in practice, they need the live-speed of game action against snorting opposition to really gain clarity.

What he did right

Again, like his pre-draft projection, Bruss was stronger in the run game. Not to say his pass blocking was poor, but at this point, he’s a better run blocker. Although he’s not a power player, he was consistently able to get push both horizontally and vertically. He moved smoothly to the second level, whether he first chipped or moved directly and he struck well in space. He pulled one time a blew up the defender (lineman, not a smaller player), squaring him up and driving him back four yards.

The pro’s, con’s and competition

Tearing both the ACL and MCL knee ligaments is a major injury and that must be accounted for. But all reports this spring and summer are that Bruss is right on time with his rehabilitation and is ready for camp competition. As for play on film, his college play was good enough for the Rams to take him as their first draft pick and while very limited, his pro film is petty good as well, excepting the the one bad highlight.

It would appear that Coleman Shelton and Tremayne Anchrum are the main competition, maybe you could add Zachary Thomas into the mix. Shelton is reportedly also in a position battle at center, a position that seems to be his best fit. Anchrum has been around a couple of seasons, and picked up some run from McVay this spring/summer. But, he’s only played five total offensive snaps and is coming off his own major lower leg injury. Mum’s the word on Thomas, nary a word since he was poached from the Chicago Bears practice squad last November.

If healthy, Logan Bruss is the right fit for the job. He has the requisite size, length, and athleticism. While zone blocking is his comfort zone and he moves naturally in that role, he can smoothly pull for wham blocks or gap plays, and gets enough drive for short yardage. Pass pro needs a little polish, but he is generally good in this area, as well.

Don’t take my word for it. Bruss did not just happen to be the first Ram drafted in 2022, The L.A. braintrust not only targeted him, but considered trading up to make sure they got him. An obviously pleased General Manager Les Snead told the press after the pick,

“This one was definitely a clear-cut. He was starred. He got the gold star, or one of the gold stars of ‘hey, we take this player at 104.’”