A player’s second-year year is vital to the development in their career. It’s that second season in which they begin to show what kind of player they’ll be and what role they can grow into from a leadership standpoint. While Cooper Kupp had a good rookie season with the Los Angeles Rams, it was that second year where you knew he had the potential to be a star.
As players are no longer rookies, more is expected out of them from the coaching staff. The opportunity is there for them to make a mark within the team and the overall team-build. That’s especially the case with the Rams as they enter a transition year. These second-year players could end up being part of the core group in that next phase.
With the Rams having plenty of opportunity on the roster, some second-year players will be battling for starting roles. Here are the second-year players that the Rams need to impress in training camp.
1. CB Cobie Durant
Durant falls into the category of second-year player who has the opportunity to be a building block going forward and be the leader of the cornerback position group. The Rams traded Jalen Ramsey in the offseason and much of Ramsey’s responsibilities will now fall on Durant.
Within the first few days of training camp, Durant has already said that he’s preparing for the “star” role in the Rams defense. This is a lot of added responsibility for a player heading into his second season. Durant had a strong rookie year, but the Rams really need him to take that next step in year two and show that the added responsibility of playing the star isn’t too much.
2. iOL Logan Bruss
After the Rams drafted Bruss last season, there was a lot of excitement about the Wisconsin offensive lineman. Then, in the second preseason game, Bruss suffered a severe injury to his knee and would miss the entire year. Let’s be clear here. The Rams likely will not be expecting Bruss to start.
Coming off the injury, it’s best that they bring Bruss back slowly and that probably means a depth role in year two. Whether Bruss wins the starting right guard spot or simply plays in a depth role, that doesn’t mean that the team won’t need him to have a good training camp. The Rams need him to take that next step in his development. One of the biggest issues with the offensive line last season was that they didn’t have depth. Bruss needs to continue his development and show that he’s ready if his number is called at some point this season. He had a rough preseason as a rookie. It will be important for him and the Rams to build confidence.
3. S Quentin Lake OR Russ Yeast
The Rams drafted two safeties late in the draft last year. They need one of those guys to step up and impress in training camp as they head into their second season. Los Angeles lost Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp in free agency. It will likely be up to one of these two players that take the spot next to Jordan Fuller.
Yeast got some playing time last year while Lake dealt with injury during his rookie season. The Rams have done a good job developing young safeties in recent years. They need one of these safeties to step up in training camp and grasp onto the starting role.
5. LB Jake Hummel
Hummel didn’t play a lot as a rookie. In fact, he only played a little over 100 snaps on special teams. Still, the Rams need someone to play next to Ernest Jones in certain defensive packages. With the opportunity at the linebacker position, there’s no reason that can’t be Hummel.
The Rams signed Hummel as an undrafted free agent last season and while he started the year hurt, he ended up finding a role on special teams. After not drafting a linebacker with one of their 14 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Rams will be hoping one of their young linebackers behind Jones can step up and embrace the opportunity. With the need of a second linebacker, Hummel is a player that could earn a starting role if he impresses during training camp.
5. CB Derion Kendrick
Kendrick is another second-year defensive back that the Rams really need to impress in training camp. After a bumpy rookie season that had its ups-and-downs, Kendrick remains a player that the Rams like. However, it will be important to see some growth and for him to show that he learned from his rookie mistakes.
When it comes to the Rams secondary, Durant will play the “star” which means he’ll rotate inside and outside. Ahkello Witherspoon will likely be the other full-time outside cornerback. With Durant’s size, he should play the majority of his snaps inside. That means that the Rams need another outside cornerback opposite of Withspoon when Durant is in the slot. That player could be Kendrick, but he needs to show consistency and that starts in training camp.