Linehan minimizes Wroten's absence

July, 24, 2008
7/24/08
10:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Wroten

Scott from Southern California writes: "With the suspension of (Claude) Wroten, will the Rams be looking outside the organization for more d-line help?"

Scott from St. Louis -- as in Rams coach Scott Linehan -- provided an answer of sorts to reporters as the team gathered for training camp near Milwaukee:

"It really doesn't affect us. Our plan going into the offseason is that we had depth within the defensive line; we really thought Claude was going to be in battle to make this team going into camp. What the suspension does, it eliminates him from the mix. We're going into the season carrying seven defensive linemen, four defensive ends and three defensive tackles. He would have been battling to get a roster spot."

Wroten was a third-round draft choice in 2006, so clearly the Rams were hoping he would earn a roster spot and realize his potential. But they couldn't have been counting on him, realistically, given Wroten's history with the NFL's substance-abuse policy. The league suspended Wroten for the first four games last season. He is now suspended for the 2008 season. Wroten played less than a quarter of the snaps for the Rams last season.

Keeping only seven defensive linemen would mark a departure for the Rams. By my count, they have averaged keeping 8.4 for regular-season openers since 2003. That includes keeping nine last season: Leonard Little, La'Roi Glover, Adam Carriker, James Hall, Trevor Johnson, Clifton Ryan, Wroten, Eric Moore and Victor Adeyanju. Two were inactive, so perhaps that's what Linehan meant (I'm not at Rams camp and won't be there for another week or so).

The Rams are carrying 12 defensive linemen now, one fewer than the average for teams running 4-3 schemes. Finding a capable veteran on the free-agent market is tough. The Rams have given up on a few defensive tackles over the years, notably former first-round pick Jimmy Kennedy. They need Carriker and rookie Chris Long to realize their first-round potential. And they need to limit Glover's reps to keep him fresh.

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