NFC West: Demetrius Rhaney

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Barrett Jones is out for the rest of the preseason and likely beyond because of back surgery, coach Jeff Fisher confirmed Sunday afternoon.

"Barrett is going to be weeks away," Fisher said. "Barrett has had some minor surgery on his back so he will not participate in the preseason. Beyond that, I don't know."

Late last week, we covered the Rams' lack of experienced depth behind the starting offensive line with mention of Jones' back injury. At the time, I was told that Jones would be out for "awhile." Anytime a back surgery is involved, it's probably best not to take a guess at a possible return. In fact, it's probably best not to count on Jones returning at all at this season.

Jones' injury, combined with rookie Demetrius Rhaney's knee injury suffered in practice last week leaves the Rams thin at center moving forward. Fisher said Rhaney had an MRI on the knee and the results were better than expected, though Rhaney is also going to miss a chunk of time.

"We got good news," Fisher said. "We suspected the worst but got good news. He has no ligament damage whatsoever. The cartilage looks good, solid, no cartilage damage. He's got a severe bone bruise I guess I would classify it and he's going to be out for some time. These things typically take time.

"I can't tell you whether it's going to be four weeks or six weeks but I would not expect him back within the four week time period."

Without Jones and Rhaney, the Rams have turned to versatile lineman Mike Person to provide center insurance. Scott Wells is working as the starter and Tim Barnes remains solid as the top backup but Person worked with the third team offense in the middle against Green Bay on Saturday. Person also played left tackle and left guard in the game, playing all 71 offensive snaps in the game.

While the Rams don't have to make any snap decisions on Rhaney or Jones, they did lose running back Isaiah Pead to a torn ACL and will likely have a roster spot open to replace him. That spot could theoretically go to an offensive lineman.

"I think we are good right now," Fisher said. "We've got depth, we've got flexibility. We're going to look. This is a time you typically continue to evaluate the bottom half of your roster and watch the waiver wire and we'll make room with Isaiah's spot. If somebody is out there we'll consider it but we're not looking to replace position for a position."

Rams Camp Report: Day 15

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of St. Louis Rams training camp:
  • The Rams continued to turn up the dial on the physical approach to practice Thursday as coach Jeff Fisher indicated they would earlier this week. Fisher said his team needs work on the run game and they certainly got that work in this practice. That's been a familiar sight in the past two weeks as the Rams try to turn it up before the regular season arrives.
  • Some quick injury news. ... Fisher said left tackle Jake Long will not play this week against Green Bay but they are targeting next week against Cleveland to get him some game action. That falls in line with the plan for him from the beginning. ... Cornerback Janoris Jenkins got back to work Thursday and though he might not play this week, he went through team drills and is close to ready. ... Rookie center Demetrius Rhaney had the scariest moment of the day when he stayed down after his knee buckled on a field goal drill. Rhaney had to be taken off on a golf cart. Fisher said the initial indication was that Rhaney's injury wasn't as serious as first feared but he would still need an MRI. ... Fisher also said right guard Rodger Saffold is "close" to returning from a stinger injury.
  • On the field, there were some big plays and plenty of heavy collisions. Tight end Justice Cunningham continues to find himself in some of the bigger collisions in running drills. Lining up at fullback, Cunningham and end Eugene Sims had a train wreck during one drill in which the pads could be heard from about 100 yards away. Cunningham is certainly making his presence felt as a blocker. Quarterback Sam Bradford had a couple of nice hookups on deep balls, one down the sideline to receiver Brian Quick and another, better throw to tight end Lance Kendricks down the seam. Tight end Brad Smelley, who just joined the team earlier this week went up for a tough over the shoulder catch for a touchdown in the corner of the end zone.
  • Former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake, father of Rams receiver Emory Blake, attended Thursday's practice. He had to be a proud papa when he saw the younger Blake rise up for the catch of the day, snatching a touchdown out of a Cody Davis and Marcus Roberson double team. Linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong was quick to voice his displeasure with the defense's inability to stop Blake.
  • Funny moment of the day: Quick tipped a ball to himself on a pass to the corner but came down out of bounds as the defense closed in around him. Tight end Jared Cook was nearby and quickly chastised Quick for not tipping the ball back to him. He was joking, of course but the delivery was perfect deadpan. Maybe you had to be there.
  • The Rams have no practice Friday as they finished preparations for Saturday's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

Rounding up Rams' Day 3 picks

May, 11, 2014
May 11
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- What was shaping up to be a relatively uneventful Day 3 of the NFL draft quickly reversed course Saturday night when the St. Louis Rams made history by choosing Missouri defensive end Michael Sam with the 249th overall pick.

For obvious reasons, the team's choice of the first openly gay player to enter the league didn't allow for much time to recap what else the Rams did on the draft's final day. We'll have plenty of time to dive further into the Rams' picks from Rounds 4 through 7 throughout the next month or so, but for now let's take a quick look at each of the picks and how they might fit in St. Louis.

S Maurice Alexander, Utah State, 4th round -- Were it not for the addition of Sam, Alexander might have been the story of the day. The former Edward Jones Dome janitor will now make his living in a far more glamorous job in the same building. Known as a physical, aggressive type, Alexander should contribute on special teams right away with long-term starter potential. The question for him will be how he works in tandem with T.J. McDonald, a safety with a similar profile.

CB E.J. Gaines, Missouri, 6th round -- Known for his feisty, physical approach, Gaines had five interceptions in 2013. He has the versatility to play in the slot as well as outside on either side and might even have some upside as a potential safety. Will have to make his mark on special teams first and foremost but could have a chance to provide valuable depth at all three corner positions as the season and his career goes on.

QB Garrett Gilbert, SMU, 6th round -- The Rams took their time adding a quarterback but got one they believe has the upside to develop into a potential contributor. Gilbert was once one of the nation's top recruits coming out of high school, but after a failed stint at Texas he transferred to SMU. In his final two seasons there, Gilbert pieced together a pair of strong seasons. He'll compete for the No. 3 job behind starter Sam Bradford and backup Shaun Hill.

OT Mitchell Van Dyk, Portland State, 7th round -- There's not a lot of information available on Van Dyk, but this much we know: he's got great size. Van Dyk said he's 6-foot-8, 315 pounds and Rams coach Jeff Fisher indicated his eventual upside could be as a legitimate NFL left tackle. The Rams should be pretty well set at tackle on the active roster with starters Jake Long and Joe Barksdale and projected starting guards Greg Robinson and Rodger Saffold more than capable of stepping in there. Will be tough for Van Dyk to crack the roster but will get the chance to compete with players like Mike Person and Sean Hooey for a possible job.

S Christian Bryant, Ohio State, 7th round -- An ankle injury limited Bryant to five games in 2013, but he believes he would've been picked much higher had it not been for the missed time. A team captain for the Buckeyes, Bryant will join a crowded secondary that saw the Rams add four defensive backs in this draft alone. If he can help on special teams, he'll have a shot to win a roster spot.

DE Michael Sam, Missouri, 7th round -- The Rams are loaded at defensive end with the likes of Chris Long, Robert Quinn, William Hayes and Eugene Sims but it's not out of the question they could carry a fifth end. The team hasn't hesitated to carry more than the standard number of defensive linemen and actually had a fifth end on the roster for a large chunk of the 2013 season. Sam has pass-rush ability, but like most seventh-round picks he'll have to earn his way onto the roster using avenues beyond that, including special teams.

C Demetrius Rhaney, Tennessee State, 7th round -- Armed with the type of versatility the Rams covet in offensive linemen, Rhaney played all over the line in his college career. But he settled in at center in 2013 and projects to compete there in St. Louis. While the Rams have Scott Wells as the likely starter, Barrett Jones and Tim Barnes are still mostly unproven as depth at the position. The competition will be tough but Rhaney should have an opportunity to battle Jones and Barnes for a role behind Wells.