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Monday, September 1, 2014
Rams roster breakdown: Defense

By Nick Wagoner

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams have their initial 53-man roster in place, and they are now in full preparation mode for Sunday's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

Coach Jeff Fisher made it clear the roster could still have some tweaks, but for now let's take a look at how the roster looks. Earlier, we started with the offense . Now, let's take a look at the defense and special teams.

Defensive line (9) Chris Long, Robert Quinn, William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford, Aaron Donald, Alex Carrington, Ethan Westbrooks

The deepest collection of talent on the team and perhaps the best line in the league, this group has a little bit of everything. The Rams kept nine in 2013 and it was no surprise when they did so again this week.

Linebacker (5) James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Daren Bates

This is the thinnest position on the defense and it would not surprise if the Rams looked to add more help, particularly if they can find a veteran with some experience. Because offenses around the league regularly play with three or four receivers, the Rams will be in sub packages quite a bit which means the need for help here isn't urgent. But a single injury of any note would certainly change that.

Cornerback (6) Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner, Brandon McGee, E.J. Gaines, Marcus Roberson

Johnson's sprained MCL will cost him four to six weeks and forced the Rams' hand to keep an additional body that likely came in the form of Roberson. McGee has an ankle injury which has cost him time in the preseason. Joyner projects to stay as the nickelback, with Jenkins starting in one spot on the outside. The interesting battle in the short term is who gets the nod to start opposite Jenkins. McGee has a little more experience but if he's not fully healthy, Gaines could get the first chance.

Safety (4) T.J. McDonald, Rodney McLeod, Maurice Alexander, Cody Davis

Instead of the five the team has carried in the past, the Rams are going with these four for right now. Alexander and Davis will be key special teams contributors right away, but neither offers any meaningful playing experience in the league as depth behind the starters.

Specialists (3) Johnny Hekker, Greg Zuerlein, Jake McQuaide

This trio should be together for the long haul.