- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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Examining the St. Louis Rams' roster:
(Note: WR Stedman Bailey is expected to make the team but is suspended for the first four games of the season and will not count on the initial 53-man roster)
Bradford and Hill are locks. Gilbert is already taking reps with the second team. It doesn't appear he'll have much competition from Austin Davis for a potential third spot. The only question is whether the Rams keep three.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
The Rams went heavy on running backs last year, keeping five, but with Pead handling more special teams duties, it could make Chase Reynolds expendable and allow them to keep an extra body elsewhere.
With Bailey suspended the first four weeks, the Rams could take a longer look at another wideout for the first quarter of the season, but Bailey plus the five listed here seem to be in pretty good shape. It will be more interesting to see how this group shakes out in terms of playing time.
TIGHT ENDS (4)
The first three are probably pretty safe, but the Rams could have an intriguing competition for a potential fourth tight end if they opt to keep one. Cunningham intrigues them, but undrafted rookie Alex Bayer continues to show promise. I'm not ready to elevate him past Cunningham but it's going to be close if they keep four.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
The Rams could easily go heavy here and keep another lineman or even two as they did in 2013. The first seven listed here should be in good shape, but beyond that, the competition is wide open. Players like Sean Hooey, Brandon Washington, Mitchell Van Dyk and Demetrius Rhaney could be heard from before preseason is finished.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
The first eight listed are all but locks barring injury, but the Rams have kept a ninth defensive lineman each of the past two seasons. The battle for that spot should be fierce with Sam trying to fend off the likes of Sammy Brown, Matt Conrath and undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks. Sam's ability to emerge on special teams will likely determine his fate.
Don't be surprised if the final tally here looks different than the above. Beyond the first four listed, there could be plenty of room for change, including the potential for a veteran to provide depth. Bates is a strong special teams player and should stick, but Steward will face plenty of competition from an eager group of undrafted rookies.
Jenkins, Johnson and Joyner should be set, but there could be some good battles in camp for the spots behind that trio. McGee has a year under his belt and an inherent advantage that goes with it, but he will face competition from the likes of Gaines, Greg Reid and Marcus Roberson. It also wouldn't surprise if the Rams kept a sixth cornerback instead of a fifth safety.
There is plenty to sort out at this position with Alexander, Daniels and rookie Christian Bryant coming off injury. Bryant didn't participate in the spring, so he is difficult to project at this point. Davis should stick for his special-teams contribution, but there is little guaranteed here.
It would take a serious injury to disturb this strong trio.