- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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EARTH CITY, Mo. - - Rams coach Jeff Fisher spoke to the media Sunday afternoon about the team’s third preseason game and Denver and a variety of other topics.
Before moving on to this short week and Thursday night’s game against Baltimore, let’s wrap up the Broncos game and clean out the notebook.
Like the rest of the league, the Rams have to cut from 90 to 75 by Tuesday afternoon. They started the process Sunday but Fisher said the Rams don’t plan to reveal those names until they have to. I’ve been able to confirm a handful of the cuts so far. The Rams released a pair of local products in receiver Andrew Helmick (Lindenwood University) and cornerback Robert Steeples (St. Louis native) as well as kicker Brett Baer and long snapper Jorgen Hus.
The Rams are switching into regular-season mode this week and will only be open for the early parts of practice Monday and Tuesday. That should at least allow for a glimpse of who is still around Monday afternoon if the rest of the names can’t be tracked down before then.
Fisher was pleased with how his defense handled a difficult challenge against Peyton Manning and Co. in Denver, citing the work of young safeties Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald, in particular. I asked Fisher if McLeod has a chance to win the job outright from injured presumptive starter Darian Stewart (hamstring) and he didn’t completely close that door despite offering a mild protest. “Typically guys don’t lose their jobs because of injury but we’ll just re-evaluate when Stew comes back,” Fisher said. It would seem that the situation might work itself out on its own if Stewart doesn’t get healthy but even if he does, McLeod is making a case to earn the job.
Asked about another position battle at left guard and Fisher offered that an announcement might be forthcoming this week. Chris Williams and Shelley Smith have been battling for that job but alternating each week. My sense is that Williams is ahead in the contest, particularly given Fisher’s lukewarm response when asked about Smith after last week’s game against Green Bay. Perhaps the situation will gain more clarity this week.
Fisher offered no updates, other than to say that more tests are being done, on the injury status of tight end Cory Harkey, who left the game and went to the locker room with an undisclosed ailment.
Fisher and the Rams were surprised by the amount of work they got from returning right tackle Rodger Saffold. Saffold practiced on a limited basis last week but ended up playing the entire first half against the Broncos. Fisher said the Rams planned to tie Saffold’s playing time to quarterback Sam Bradford and were prepared to remove Bradford along with Saffold after a couple series. Saffold may get some extra work Thursday night because he still needs the reps on the right side.
Offensive tackle Joe Barksdale, who replaced Saffold when he was out, did not travel with the team because of an infection on his hand. Fisher said Barksdale is “fine” and expected to return to practice this week.
Still nothing settled or determined on the backup quarterback front. The Rams used Austin Davis, Kellen Clemens and Tim Jenkins against the Broncos. The battle is between Davis and Clemens but Fisher said nothing has been determined in that regard.