Breaking Down St. Louis Rams’ 10 Most High-Profile Roster Cuts
The St. Louis Rams' Biggest Cuts
As every team must do following their final preseason game, the St. Louis Rams had to make some tough decisions as they cut their roster from 75 to 53 players this weekend. The process seemed to be even more stressful than usual this year, as the Rams have finally gotten to the point where they've had to let go some legitimately talented players. As Rams defensive end Chris Long shared on Twitter, the group of players released don't have anything to be ashamed of:
really believe we had to let some good players go bc of the talent we have here.Ill enjoy watching those guys play well wherever they land.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) August 30, 2013
Though the Rams didn't have any earth-shattering surprises among their cuts, they did make some interesting moves in regards to roster composition. Most notably, they eschewed many 53-man roster projections by once again keeping 10 offensive linemen. They also decided to keep a ninth defensive lineman, rewarding undrafted rookie Gerald Rivers with a roster spot. As a result of their decision to go heavy on both lines, they went short with their receiving corps, keeping only five receivers and four tight ends. Due to injuries to tight ends Cory Harkey and Lance Kendricks, they may only have two fully healthy tight ends for Week 1.
Even with all the cuts the Rams have made over the past couple days, it's very unlikely that this version of their 53-man roster will be the one that faces the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Last year, the Rams made a lot of movement with the waiver wire, and ended up swapping out four players in between cutdown day and their season opener. With that in mind, very few Rams should feel safe over the next few days.
The Rams may not be done with their cuts, but here are the 10 biggest moves they've made so far this weekend.
10. Philip Lutzenkirchen, TE
For a while, it seemed like Lutzenkirchen, a 6-foot-3, 258-pound undrafted rookie from Auburn, had a shot to make the Rams' 53-man roster. He got off to a hot start in training camp, making some impressive catches during practice, and he had two catches for 18 yards in the preseason opener. He saw his chances significantly decrease after that game, and seemed to fall behind Zach Potter in the tight end race, though he too was released this weekend.
Unless the Rams bring in someone else off the waiver wire, Lutzenkirchen figures to be re-signed to the Rams practice squad, if only because two of their tight ends, Cory Harkey and Lance Kendricks, will be limited or unavailable during practice this week.
9. Rashard Hall, S
Hall, who was signed during the early days of training camp, made a great impression throughout the preseason. He seemed to always get in on the play and had several near-interceptions. He finished third on the team with 12 tackles and had a fumble recovery. Ultimately, though, Darian Stewart and Matt Giordano's experience took precedence, and Hall was released.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Hall should have a decent shot to crack the practice squad. He fits the mold of a traditional free safety more than the Rams' other safeties, and his size and athleticism make him someone who could be an impact player in the future.
8. Darren Woodard, CB
After getting off to a rough start through the early part of the preseason, Woodard made a strong push at the 53-man roster over the preseason's second half. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound rookie out of UTEP had a 23-yard interception against the Denver Broncos, and finished with 11 tackles during the exhibition schedule. He was particularly impressive in the season finale, making some key plays that sealed the Rams' victory.
Cornerback is a position where the Rams will probably look to upgrade via the waiver wire, but if they don't find anyone, Woodard will likely be kept on the practice squad. The Rams' fourth and fifth corners, Brandon McGee and Quinton Pointer, have been slowed by injuries recently, and Woodard would give them some insurance.
7. Sammy Brown, DE/LB
Brown's release was not really surprising to anyone who had been around the Rams since the start of training camp, but it's notable that they decided to part ways with someone who made an impact last year. Brown, a 6-foot-2, 254-pound linebacker who was an undrafted rookie out of Houston last year, was called up from the practice squad late last season to replace Mario Haggan, and he contributed on special teams for one game.
Unfortunately for Brown, he struggled with an injury for all of camp and never got on the field. The Rams were in the process of converting him into a defensive end, but he didn't get the chance to prove himself there, and ultimately they had to give up on him. Due to his injury and lack of playing time, there's virtually no chance that Brown will be on the Rams' practice squad.
6. Cody Davis, S
Cody Davis was widely expected to make the Rams' 53-man roster after being given $20,000 guaranteed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech. The 6-foot-2, 204 pound safety got off to a good start, but ultimately wasn't enough of a playmaker to make the Rams' team. He did, however, lead the Rams in preseason tackles with 14.
Though Davis didn't set the world on fire during the preseason, he still was consistent and did everything he was asked, and for this reason, it's likely that another team will snatch him up off the waiver wire. If he makes it through, though, he's a very likely candidate to join the practice squad. With safeties Darian Stewart and Matt Giordano out for at least the first week, the Rams will need a full complement of safeties during practice, and Davis is probably the man they would most like to have filling a scout team safety spot.
5. Justin Veltung, WR
The Rams only decided to keep five receivers, but if they had kept six, Veltung likely would have been the player who joined the group. Though he didn't really put up results from scrimmage during the preseason, catching just one pass for 28 yards and running a reverse for five, Veltung impressed with his athleticism and elusiveness. He was the team's primary punt returner during the preseason, running back nine punts for an average of 10.3 yards per return, and he also ran back a kick for 28 yards.
Veltung is probably the most likely candidate out of any of the released players to join the Rams' practice squad. First of all, they will want to have a sixth receiver with the team in case of injury, and they can also have him on standby if they decide that they need him to become part of their return game.
4. Zach Potter, TE
After playing very sparingly in the preseason opener, Potter looked like he was going to get cut at the cutdown to 75 players, but he rallied late and almost made the 53-man roster. His playing time increased each week, and with an injury to the Rams' primary blocking tight end, Cory Harkey, it looked like Potter would have a spot. He also helped himself out with a touchdown catch, but ultimately that wasn't enough for him to make the team, as the Rams decided to move forward with four tight ends.
Potter, a four-year veteran, is not eligible for the practice squad, and his time with the Rams has seemingly come to an end.
3. Mason Brodine, DT/DE
Though he came into training camp as a virtual unknown, Brodine ended up being the Rams' toughest cut. After adding almost 20 pounds to his frame and becoming primarily a defensive tackle this offseason, Brodine consistently showed up through practices and preseason games. He did a great job of moving all around the field, rushing the passer and making plays on special teams. Unfortunately for Brodine, undrafted rookie Gerald Rivers also made some big plays. The Rams apparently decided that they only had room for nine defensive linemen, and Rivers had to be the ninth.
It may be tough for Brodine to make it through the waiver process unclaimed. He showed that he can be a starting-quality defensive tackle, and his size and athleticism are very rare in interior defensive linemen. If somehow he makes it through waivers, the Rams would be smart to add Brodine to their practice squad and add him to the 53-man whenever a roster spot opens up.
2. Austin Davis, QB
Many people expected the Rams to keep only two quarterbacks; it was just that they believed the player released would be Kellen Clemens, not Davis. This year, Davis was expected to be the second-stringer, and seemed to have a solid hold on the position until Clemens played well in the preseason finale. Davis finished with a 51.9 percent completion percentage, three touchdown passes, and no interceptions.
There's a good chance that the Rams could bring back Davis to be part of their practice squad if he goes unclaimed on waivers. They will need someone to run their scout team offense, and the no. 2 quarterback is traditionally exempt from this role. Davis still has the potential to be a solid backup, and the Rams can continue to develop him without having to waste a roster space on him this way.
1. Josh Hull, LB
Though he wasn't the best player who got cut this weekend, Hull was probably the biggest surprise out of the bunch. He had been with the team since being selected in the seventh round in 2010, and he had settled into a role as James Laurinaitis' backup and a key special teamer. Hull really got exposed from scrimmage this preseason, however, making some terrible angles and getting run over several times. The team decided to move forward, at least for the moment, with three undrafted rookie backup linebackers instead of giving Hull a spot.
Hull is no longer practice squad eligible, but it wouldn't be the biggest shock in the world if the team brought him back in Week 2, when his salary for the season will not be guaranteed.