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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Cameron DaSilva

Rams 53-man roster projection after first preseason game

Each preseason game could change the outlook of the Los Angeles Rams’ 53-man roster, which will have to be determined by Aug. 29 this year. After one game, a 34-17 loss to the Chargers, there aren’t many changes from our last projection. Many of the players we projected to make the team had decent performances against the Chargers, though the Rams may see things differently.

With one preseason game in the books, here’s our latest projection for the Rams’ roster.

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Note: (*) = rookie

Quarterback (2)

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Matthew Stafford
  2. Stetson Bennett*

Nothing about Saturday’s game suggests the Rams need to keep three quarterbacks. Brett Rypien started the game but he didn’t play very long and Bennett looked like the better quarterback. There will be some growing pains for the rookie quarterback but he got comfortable as the game progressed, which is good to see.

Running back (4)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Cam Akers
  2. Kyren Williams
  3. Zach Evans*
  4. Ronnie Rivers

Rivers got off to a great start in the preseason, leading the backfield with an average of 5.2 yards per carry. He should’ve scored a touchdown, too, but it was called bac due to a holding penalty. Evans had a nice 9-yard run and finished with a team-high 34 yards, so he should still make the team as a sixth-round rookie. Royce Freeman is the wild card in this all because the Rams like his experience but he’s not a particularly impressive running back.

Wide receiver (7)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Cooper Kupp
  2. Van Jefferson
  3. Tutu Atwell
  4. Puka Nacua*
  5. Ben Skowronek
  6. Demarcus Robinson
  7. Tyler Johnson

Johnson makes the team in this roster projection, just as he did in the last one. He was the Rams’ highest-graded player in the loss, leading the team with 70 yards receiving on five catches. It was somewhat surprising that Skowronek played as much as he did, which could indicate he’s not yet a lock for the 53-man roster. Robinson has been a standout in practice but he also played significant snaps, maybe just to get a better grasp of the offense.

Regardless, Lance McCutcheon’s stock seems to be falling, likely putting him behind Johnson and squarely on the roster bubble.

Tight end (4)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Tyler Higbee
  2. Brycen Hopkins
  3. Hunter Long
  4. Davis Allen*

None of these four tight ends played on Saturday night; Higbee and Hopkins rested and Long and Allen are injured. However, that doesn’t change the fact that all four are expected to make the 53-man roster this season. None of the other tight ends have done enough to unseat Long or Allen, who are both in their first season with the Rams.

Offensive tackle (4)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Rob Havenstein
  2. Alaric Jackson
  3. Warren McClendon Jr.*
  4. Logan Bruss

There are technically no changes to the numbers along the offensive line in this projection, but since our last roster mock-up, two players have switched positions. Joe Noteboom is competing more at right guard now, while Bruss has moved from guard to tackle. Both players are still expected to make the team, just at different positions than originally expected.

Center/Guard (5)

(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong) 
  1. Brian Allen
  2. Coleman Shelton
  3. Steve Avila*
  4. Joe Noteboom
  5. Tremayne Anchrum Jr.

I was close to putting Zach Thomas in this projection at guard but it’s hard to find a player to trim at another position. Allen and Shelton are still the favorites at center after getting Saturday night off, while Avila seems to have locked down the left guard spot. Noteboom and Anchrum will battle at right guard, though it seems the Rams don’t feel it’s necessary to play Noteboom in the preseason.

Defensive line (6)

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Aaron Donald
  2. Bobby Brown III
  3. Marquise Copeland
  4. Earnest Brown IV
  5. Kobie Turner*
  6. Jonah Williams

Desjuan Johnson has some work to do if he’s going to make the 53-man roster because he was relatively quiet on Saturday night, as were most of the Rams’ defensive linemen. For now, we’ll keep Williams on the projected roster but he might be closer to the bubble than we think. Brown is having a good summer and he was tied for the team lead with two pressures on Saturday night.

Outside linebacker (5)

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
  1. Michael Hoecht
  2. Byron Young*
  3. Daniel Hardy
  4. Nick Hampton*
  5. Keir Thomas

Thomas tied Brown with two pressures on the night, finishing with a team-high 1.5 sacks. With an outside linebacker group that is wide open, it was an encouraging performance by the second-year edge rusher. Ochaun Mathis remains injured so he’ll need to really stand out in the second and third preseason games, assuming he plays in them. Hoecht, Young and Hampton might be the only locks at this position.

Inside linebacker (3)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Ernest Jones
  2. Christian Rozeboom
  3. Jake Hummel

No changes here. It’s always seemed like the Rams would keep just three inside linebackers, but special teams could cause them to keep a fourth. Good luck predicting who the fourth linebacker might be, though. At the moment, DeAndre Square might have the best shot after the way he played on Saturday night.

Cornerback (5)

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Cobie Durant
  2. Ahkello Witherspoon
  3. Derion Kendrick
  4. Robert Rochell
  5. Tre Tomlinson*

Tomlinson had the best night of any Rams cornerback against the Chargers, further cementing his spot on the roster. Rochell hasn’t been leapfrogged by anyone else at corner yet so he should be safe.

Undrafted rookie Jordan Jones showed a physical side of his game, making five tackles and consistently finding himself around the ball on defense. He’s still not projected to make the team but he’ll have a shot if he keeps playing the way he did on Saturday.

Safety (5)

(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong) ORG XMIT: CAKG10
  1. Jordan Fuller
  2. John Johnson III
  3. Russ Yeast
  4. Quentin Lake
  5. Jason Taylor II*

Tanner Ingle made the team in our last roster projection but with Johnson joining the mix, that complicates things for him – even after a strong performance in his preseason debut. He didn’t get much playing time to begin with, playing just 12 snaps, but he impressed. It just might not be in the cards for him to make the team based on the numbers at safety.

Special teams (3)

(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong) 
  1. K Tanner Brown*
  2. P Ethan Evans*
  3. LS Alex Ward*

Brown badly missed a 46-yard field goal, which wasn’t ideal, but he did bounce back by making a 39-yarder. Ethan Evans showed off his powerful leg and nearly had a perfect punt that just bounced at the goal line, so he should make the team. He just might have to learn to dial it back so he doesn’t outkick his coverage like he did on the Chargers’ touchdown return.

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