5 St. Louis Rams Players Who Won’t Make it Past First Round of Cuts
5 St. Louis Rams Who Will Be Let Go in Cutdown #1
August is a tumultuous month for all NFL teams, as they begin the month with as many as 90 players, and must reduce that group down to 53 men by the end of the month. As they go through preseason games and practices, the personnel departments must make rather quick decisions on who they believe can best help their clubs during the regular season. These decisions are complicated even more by the most current NFL CBA, which severely limits the amount of contact that is allowed in practices. With these new rules, teams must rely almost solely on what they get out of preseason games to determine which players are the most efficient hitters and tacklers.
The first cutdown date is on August 27, when teams must reduce their rosters to 75 players. This is a process that has been significantly relaxed over the past few years, as teams are now allowed to take a roster of 90 players through the third preseason game and still have a large amount of players through the end of the exhibition schedule.
The flip side of that is that teams now have a lot of tough decisions to make in a shorter period of time. The cut to 75 usually is comprised mostly of “camp bodies” and undrafted free agents, and generally provides few surprises. The cutdown date after the final preseason game is when most of the difficult choices must be made.
This year, the St. Louis Rams are unlikely to make any shocking moves when they reduce the squad to 75 players. As opposed to last year, when plenty of spots were for the taking with a bunch of unproven young players, this year those same players have strong holds on jobs, and only a few positions are available.
There should be some very obvious and easy cuts; quarterback Tim Jenkins, kicker/punter Brett Baer and long snapper Jorgen Hus come to mind right away. While these players may very well have what it takes to play in the NFL, they were brought into camp with the knowledge that they were there to take some of the pressure off established veterans during longer and hotter summer practices. These players realize that they have virtually no chance to make the team, and are grateful just to have the ability to showcase their skills in an NFL camp.
Here are five of the more notable players who will likely be visited by the turk come August 27.
5. R.J. Washington, DE
Washington, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound undrafted end out of Oklahoma, got some solid playing time in the preseason opener. Washington played from scrimmage for 26 snaps, teaming with fellow rookie Gerald Rivers to form the end duo for most of the second half, but he was clearly overmatched and got pushed around on multiple occasions. There really isn't a spot available for another defensive end to make the Rams' roster anyway, but Washington certainly made the decision easier on the front office. They may keep either Rivers or Washington around for the final preseason game just to ease the load on the regulars, but if things continue like they have thus far, Rivers is much more likely to last longer.
4. Justin Veltung, WR
Veltung, a receiver who went undrafted out of Idaho, got some national publicity during draft season for his astounding 46-inch vertical leap. That showing convinced the Seattle Seahawks to bring him in, though they released him before training camp. The Rams then decided to take a chance with him, but he hasn't been overly impressive thus far.
The team currently has eleven receivers on the roster, and five of them are assured of jobs. Of the six who are fighting for the last spot and possible practice squad opportunities, Veltung and fellow rookie Demetrius Fields have been the least impressive, and it showed in the first preseason game as they had 17 and 13 snaps, respectively, which were the two lowest snap counts among the bubble receivers. Both of them have a good chance of being released at the first cutdown date.
3. Sean Hooey, OT
Hooey, an undrafted tackle from Cincinnati, has some intriguing physical tools — he's 6-foot-9 and 295 pounds — but he has not looked too good during practices or the first preseason game. He stood out most when he had a false start penalty with five seconds left in the fourth quarter, which further decreased the Rams' chances to win the game.
This week, Hooey has missed practice with an ankle injury, which does not bode well for his chances to suit up in the next preseason game. The team brought in tackle D.J. Young from Michigan State to take Hooey's reps, so his Rams future does not look too promising. Hooey was at best the Rams' number five tackle before his injury, and this setback further increases the chances that he will be released on August 27 or earlier.
2. Jonathan Stewart, LB
Stewart, a 6-foot-3, 242-pound backer from Texas A&M, was talked about during OTA's and minicamp as a player who could step in and fill one of the Rams' backup linebacker roles, all of which were up for grabs at the time. Since then, however, the team has brought in veteran Will Witherspoon to fill one of those roles, and Stewart seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.
While undrafted rookie Ray Ray Armstrong and the inexperienced Jabara Williams have gotten reps with the second team, Stewart has struggled to get an opportunity on the field. He only got 15 snaps during the first preseason contest, and at this point he seems to be around only to give the other linebackers rest during practice. It would be surprising if he survives past the first cut.
1. Zach Potter, TE
Potter obviously has not done much to impress the Rams' coaching staff. After being signed near the end of OTA's to compete for the team's blocking tight end role, the five-year veteran has been little used and seems to be at the rear of the tight end group.
Second-year player Cory Harkey has the blocking specialist job virtually locked up, and the consequences have fallen upon Potter. He only saw action on nine snaps from scrimmage in Thursday's game, which ranked sixth among the seven tight ends who were healthy for the contest. Since Potter is being used so little, it would be the right move for the Rams to let him go in advance of the other players and give him the opportunity to possibly catch on with another team.