NFC West: Darren woodard

Sunday notes: Rams sign practice squad

September, 1, 2013
As a follow up to cutdown day on Saturday, the Rams filled out their eight-man practice squad with players who were part of the cut to the 53-man roster.

The team announced the first incarnation of the practice squad Sunday afternoon and each of the members spent the preseason and training camp with the team. Here's the list: receivers Emory Blake and Justin Veltung, cornerback Darren Woodard, defensive ends Sammy Brown and Mason Brodine, safety Cody Davis, offensive tackle Sean Hooey and fullback Eric Stevens.

Perhaps notable in his absence is quarterback Austin Davis, who spent the 2012 season as the team's third quarterback and was among the 20 cuts the team made Saturday. He's still eligible for the practice squad but for now is not a part of the organization. Right now, the Rams are carrying two quarterbacks on the roster, Sam Bradford and Kellen Clemens, with none on the practice squad.

Making matters more interesting was the absence of Clemens from Sunday's practice. Coach Jeff Fisher declined to comment on the absence.

"I'm not going to discuss the roster, who is here, who is not," Fisher said. "We'll have an injury report for you during the week in the regular season."

Since the Rams have just five receivers on the active roster, it's no surprise that they opted to bring two back to the practice squad. Hooey was a project the Rams seemed to like early in camp but was sidetracked by injury. Brodine appeared to narrowly miss a spot on the active roster, losing a close battle to Gerald Rivers for a likely ninth spot among defensive linemen.

Woodard made a late surge but fell short of winning the fifth cornerback job and Davis did the same at safety. Stevens was the lone true fullback on the roster in preseason and can at least give scout team looks at that position for the weeks when Rams play some of the teams that still carry someone at the position.

Brown spent a big chunk of 2012 with the practice squad and then the active roster the final five games.

More notes:

Safety Matt Daniels had his right arm in a sling and was dressed in street clothes for the short portion of practice open to the media. Tight end Cory Harkey (leg) was on crutches and also not available for practice.

As the Rams go into regular-season mode, it's unlikely any updates will be available until the injury report comes out Wednesday for Sunday's game against Arizona.

The Rams are not scheduled to have practice again until Wednesday.
As the bulk of their starters sat out Thursday night's preseason finale against Baltimore, it was a busy night for many of the Rams rookies. Here's a look at how much the each member of the draft class played, and how they fared in their opportunities.

WR Tavon Austin, first round, No. 8 overall: Austin didn’t sit out completely like the rest of the projected starters, but made no more than a cameo with eight snaps on offense and one on special teams. He was targeted three times and made three catches for 26 yards. The only punt return he dropped back for was booted out of bounds.

LB Alec Ogletree, first round, No. 30 overall: One of the busiest rookies, Ogletree played 25 defensive snaps and four on special teams. He finished with two tackles in unofficial pressbox statistics. Ogletree needed all the reps he could get during this preseason and played more snaps than any defender during the exhibition slate.

S T.J. McDonald, third round, No. 71 overall: McDonald played a dozen snaps and another on special teams as one of the few regulars to make the start. He made one tackle in unofficial pressbox statistics. Progress was evident in McDonald’s first preseason, and he nailed down a starting spot.

WR Stedman Bailey, third round, No. 92 overall: Bailey continued to get steady work, playing 22 snaps on offense and four on special teams. Bailey had three targets and made two catches for 38 yards. He was a bit shaky on the balls he caught, more so than he had been throughout preseason, but still managed to haul in a couple catches. He showed some willingness on special teams, leading the charge on punt coverage once.

OL Barrett Jones, fourth round, No. 113 overall: Jones continued to get extensive work as the Rams try to get him up to speed, playing 57 snaps on offense and six more on special teams. Jones seemed to be a bit more comfortable than he’s been in the previous three games. He’s going to make the roster, no doubt about that, but it will be interesting to see if the Rams feel good enough about his state of readiness to part ways with Tim Barnes, who plays a similar role.

CB Brandon McGee, fifth round, No. 149 overall: McGee is nursing some sort of unknown injury and didn’t play Thursday night. Last week against Denver, McGee played one play on special teams and none defensively. It doesn’t appear that he’s got a serious ailment, but until we know the extent of it, his status for Week 1 remains in doubt.

RB Zac Stacy, fifth round, No. 160 overall: Seemingly healthy and ready to go for the first time in the preseason, Stacy got his first extensive work of the exhibition season. He played 25 snaps on offense, finishing with 37 yards on 11 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown run. There wasn’t a ton of room to work, but Stacy’s short-yardage and goal-line ability might be enough to garner chances in those situations when the regular season comes.

Undrafted Rookie Roundup: Two undrafted rookies that have made positive impressions all along showed up again Thursday night -- running back Benny Cunningham and linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong. … Cunningham played 18 snaps on offense, 12 on special teams and was the sharpest of the team’s backs. He had eight carries for 76 yards and likely solidified a roster spot. … Armstrong was active again at linebacker and on special teams, playing 30 snaps on the former and 20 on the latter. He had another big hit and finished with a tackle and pass defended. … End Gerald Rivers made one final push to make the final roster, leading the team in tackles with six and tossing in a sack, three tackles for loss and a hurry in a defense-high 61 snaps. … It remains to be seen whether it will be enough, but cornerback Darren Woodard was sticky in coverage again on his 57 snaps before he left the game with an apparent hamstring issue. If nothing else, Woodard showed enough in the final two preseason games to merit practice squad consideration.

Six Rams who can help themselves

August, 28, 2013
For Rams on the bubble trying to steal a last-minute roster spot before final cuts have to be in on Saturday, there's one chance left.

The Rams close out their exhibition slate Thursday night against Baltimore at the Edward Jones Dome. That game represents one final opportunity for players who haven't already secured a spot to either change the mind of the Rams' coaching staff or confirm what coach Jeff Fisher and Co. already know.

"Our focus is on winning the game and in addition to that we still need to continue to evaluate players, finish up strong and work on a few areas," Fisher said. "There could be some jobs decided, yes."

The Rams roster isn't in the same state of flux it was in 2012 when Fisher and general manager Les Snead took over and began a drastic remodeling project. But there are still a handful of jobs that could go either way. Here's a look at six Rams who have a chance to help themselves in the preseason finale.

CB Darren Woodard: Woodard helped himself in a big way with his performance against Denver last week and not just because of his second interception. Woodard was sticky in coverage and unafraid to come up and tackle. The Rams kept five corners last year and if they do so again this year, Woodard would have to supplant returner Quinton Pointer. Pointer didn't play much at all against the Broncos and has been banged up off and on during camp. Another strong showing from Woodard could make the Rams think twice.

OL Brandon Washington: After working exclusively at guard last year, Washington has been pressed into duty at right tackle during this preseason because of injuries to Rodger Saffold, Joe Barksdale and others. The good news for Washington is that added versatility equals increased opportunity. If the Rams keep only eight offensive linemen it might be hard for Washington to win a spot, but if he can show something at tackle, he might be able to make a case to be a possible ninth.

WR Justin Veltung: The first five receivers are a given, leaving a possible sixth spot up for grabs between Veltung and Nick Johnson. It's not given the Rams keep six, but Veltung has been a pleasant surprise since the Rams signed him a couple of days into camp. Making some catches wouldn't hurt, but Veltung can punch his ticket with some good special teams work, including some return opportunities.

RB Chase Reynolds: You'd be hard pressed to find a more selfless player in the locker room than Reynolds, who has been a dutiful contributor on the practice squad and scout team the past two years. With Isaiah Pead suspended in Week 1, the Rams already figure to have the three backs to handle the carries but they will have a roster exemption and Reynolds has been heavily involved in first unit special teams in the preseason. Even if only for the first week of the season, Reynolds could follow Veltung's lead and sew up a spot with some contributions on special teams.

DE Gerald Rivers: Rivers has been the undrafted rookie to catch the Rams' eye in this preseason, following in the footsteps of defensive tackle Matt Conrath from last year. When Eugene Sims was absent tending to the death of his mother, Rivers got opportunities to work with the first-team defense against Green Bay and held his own. The Rams have eight linemen they'll keep for sure, but pass-rushers are considered a premium by Fisher and staff. A strong performance against the Ravens could help convince the Rams to keep Rivers on the 53 rather than try to pass him through waivers to get to the practice squad.

TE Zach Potter: Potter helped himself a bit last week with a touchdown catch late in the Denver game but he's not here for his pass-catching abilities. Potter is one of two tight ends (Cory Harkey is the other) who will routinely go work with the offensive line in the one-on-one pass-rush drills. While Harkey is considered the team's first option as a true blocking tight end, he's also dealing with an injury that could keep him out for a little while. If that's the case, Potter could cement his spot in the tight end crew with what figures to be plenty of playing time Thursday night.