After saying goodbye to both of their starters from 2012 during the offseason, the safety positions for the St. Louis Rams are up for grabs in training camp. Handicapping the race heading into camp was anybody’s guess, but two favorites have emerged as the team moves into day three.
There really haven’t been many surprises thus far as the two projected starters heading into camp, rookie T.J. McDonald and fourth-year man Darian Stewart, have been leading the way. Head coach Jeff Fisher commented on the position and the ongoing battle for the starting jobs saying:
“Right now, T.J and ‘Stew’ are working together with the first team. I’m especially pleased right now with T.J.’s progress. He’s really doing some good things out there. There’s more and more familiarity with what we’re doing. He’s making more plays each day. He’s just an excellent athlete and a good football player.”
It’s certainly encouraging to hear that the team’s third-round selection is catching on so quickly. He is an instinctual player with terrific bloodlines as his father, Tim McDonald, played for the San Francisco 49ers in their Super Bowl XXIX season. Even though he’s a rookie, McDonald will be a leader for the Rams in the secondary as he has terrific recognition skills as a student of the game thanks to his dad.
Stewart is a bit of an underwhelming option at the other safety spot as his main time as a starter didn’t go so well in 2011. During that season he started 11 contests on the 2-14 Rams and missed a staggering 20 tackles in the process. That will have to improve during camp and in the preseason if he wants to hang onto the starting gig alongside McDonald.
The other horses in the race include Rodney McLeod who is entering his second NFL season and veteran Matt Giordano who the team signed just prior to camp getting started for extra depth. Fisher commented on these two candidates as well saying:
“(McLeod) had a great offseason and is doing a great job at both positions. Fortunately, we got (Giordano) in here with the experience and we’ll see how the young guys do.”
Nothing concrete has been revealed as of yet in the battle for the two starting safety spots in the Rams secondary, but this competition is sure to go on deep into camp. The more these guys all push one another the better the results will be on the field. Expect the Rams to embrace the competition and have these guys battling until the final preseason game to earn themselves a starting gig. Hopefully that improves the quality of play they received from now departed veterans Quintin Mikell and Craig Dahl a season ago.