End Of Preseason Means Final Cuts Loom For Rams
I'm not certain of all 53 players, but I have a pretty good idea of most of the players who will make the final roster for the 2009 St. Louis Rams.
Following Thursday night's 17-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at the Edward Jones Dome in the Governor's Cup game, head coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney have until Saturday afternoon to finalize the roster.
Here are the locks - quarterbacks: Marc Bulger, Kyle Boller; running backs: Steven Jackson, Samkon Gado, Mike Karney; wide receivers: Donnie Avery, Laurent Robinson; tight ends: Randy McMichael, Billy Bajema; offensive line: Jason Brown, Jason Smith, Richie Incognito, Alex Barron, Jacob Bell, Adam Goldberg, Mark Setterstrom; defensive ends: Chris Long, Leonard Little, James Hall; defensive tackles: Adam Carriker, Clifton Ryan, Gary Gibson; linebackers: James Laurinaitis, David Vobora, Chris Draft, Larry Grant, Will Witherspoon; safeties: Todd Johnson, OJ Atogwe, James Butler; cornerbacks: Ron Bartell, Jonathan Wade, Justin King, Bradley Fletcher.
Add in punter Donnie Jones, kicker Josh Brown, and long snapper Chris Massey, and that brings the number of sure-fire players to make the roster to 37.
That leaves 16 spots to fill.
First, let me address a few of the above players. Gado has been the most productive of all the backup running backs, and has been a solid special teams player. He also gives the Rams the added value of being able to play fullback.
Gibson has been a beast in practice, with a non-stop motor that has been impressive to watch. Fletcher was a third-round draft pick this year, and that's not something the new regime is going to waste. This could be the last hurrah for King, but he's done enough to make the roster.
As far as the final 16 spots, we'll start at receiver. Because he's been the main punt returner, and has been one of the hardest worker in the preseason, I think it's safe to pencil Derek Stanley in as one of the receivers. Also add to that list solid veteran Ronald Curry, who was the team's leading receiver Thursday night, and Keenan Burton, who makes the team despite a nice effort from Nate Jones. Sorry Tim Carter, you may run like the Flash, but you've got hands like the Thing.
Stanley, Burton and Curry leave 13 spots available. Two of those will be filled by running backs Kenneth Darby and rookie Chris Ogbonnaya, whom the Rams coaches really like and rewarded him with a lot of preseason carries. The Rams will keep four tailbacks, and release fullback Jerome Johnson and halfback Antonio Pittman. Johnson is let go because of Gado's ability to play fullback.
We're down to 11 now and one spot will be given to Daniel Fells, who has earned the third tight end role behind Bajema and McMichael. Fells has outplayed Eric Butler, and the already released Joe Klopfenstein.
On the offensive line, the Rams are pretty set, but I still see spots going to John Greco, rookie Phil Trautwein, and Roy Schuening. That gives the Rams plenty of depth, and should Brown go down, gives them flexibility to move Incognito or Setterstrom to center and still fill the holes. Trautwein, an undrafted free agent from Florida, has been a nice find for Devaney and Company.
One offensive spot remains, and that will go to rookie quarterback Keith Null, who has just shown more consistency and upside than Brock Berlin. Null reminds most everybody at Rams Park of Kurt Warner, and that's a pretty good comparison for the rook.
So six spots remaining, and they all belong to the defense, which looked solid against the Chiefs, giving up a few big plays, but not allowing Kansas City into the end zone.
I think Hollis Thomas will make the team. He's a St. Louis native, a huge body, and has been a workout machine, spending extra time in the training room to make sure the 35-year-old is physically ready for the season. As much as the Rams struggled to stop the run last year, they didn't sign the 330-pound Thomas before camp just to cut him.
Defensive ends Victor Adeyanju and C.J. Ah You played themselves onto the roster with a nice preseason finale. They hustled all over the field Thursday night, and both recorded sacks. Ah You led the team in tackles during the preseason.
Cornerback Quincy Butler, who helped himself out with an interception return for a touchdown against Kansas City, will get one of the remaining three spots.
Linebackers Quentin Culberson and Chris Chamberlain will complete the final 53.
I really like Cord Parks, Craig Dahl and David Roach, but there's just no room for them on the final roster, and it doesn't matter who I like. Still, look for a couple of those names to get added to the practice squad.
I'm not Devaney or Spagnuolo, but after watching training camp and the preseason games, I think I've got a pretty good pulse of what will happen this weekend. I guess we'll see how much I actually knew come Saturday.
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