NFC West: Mark Rubin

Catching up with the Rams' cut list

September, 10, 2009
9/10/09
11:25
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Rams Player Released on Cutdown Pos. Current Team Capacity
Phil Trautwein
OL Browns Active Roster
Brock Berlin
QB Lions Practice Squad
Roy Schuening
OL Raiders Practice Squad
K.C. Asiodu
LB Rams Practice Squad
Eric Butler
TE Rams Practice Squad
Dominic Douglas
LB Rams Practice Squad
Chris Ogbonnaya
RB Rams Practice Squad
Sean Walker
WR Rams Practice Squad
Antwon Burton
DL -- --
Ian Campbell
DL -- --
Renardo Foster
OL -- --
Jerome Johnson
RB -- --
Tim Mattran
OL -- --
Cord Parks
DB -- --
Antonio Pittman
RB -- --
Mark Rubin
DB -- --
Tim Carter
WR -- --
Ronald Curry
WR -- --
Todd Johnson
DB -- --

The Rams' depth on the offensive line might be better than anticipated for a team with a 5-27 record over the past two seasons.

The team is carrying 10 offensive linemen, one more than typical, while John Greco recovers from wrist surgery.

An 11th, Phil Trautwein, landed on the Browns' active roster when Cleveland claimed him off waivers. A 12th, Roy Schuening, signed with the Raiders' practice squad. Another, tackle Renardo Foster, would seem to be a candidate for catching on somewhere eventually.

I've gone through the initial NFC West cut lists -- those players released at the 53-man deadline -- to see which ones have returned to their teams or caught on elsewhere.

The chart shows results for St. Louis.

Quarterback Brock Berlin signed to the Lions' practice squad after the Rams released him. Defensive lineman Ian Campbell briefly spent time on the Rams' practice squad before the team released him.

A few veterans -- running back Antonio Pittman, receiver Tim Carter, receiver Ronald Curry and special-teamer Todd Johnson -- remain available.

Ex-Rams with practice-squad eligibility

September, 6, 2009
9/06/09
10:59
AM ET
Ex-Rams eligible for
practice squad
Pos.
K.C. Asiodu
LB
Brock Berlin
QB
Eric Butler
TE
Ian Campbell
DL
Dominic Douglas
LB
Renardo Foster
OL
Jerome Johnson
FB
Tim Mattran
OL
Chris Ogbonnaya
RB
Cordelius Parks
DB
Mark Rubin
DB
Roy Schuening
OL
Phil Trautwein
OL
Sean Walker
WR

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


NFL teams can begin forming eight-man practice squads once released players clear waivers this afternoon.

I've put together a list of recently released Rams players with eligibility for the practice squad. Each was released on the reduction to 53 players.

The decision to keep rookie quarterback Keith Null on the 53-man roster meant releasing Brock Berlin. Does that mean Berlin is finished with the Rams? It could, but the quarterback does remain eligible for the practice squad.

Running back Chris Ogbonnaya seems like a natural candidate. With a new coaching staff and relatively new front office, the Rams could be more likely to consider players from other rosters. Coach Steve Spagnuolo was with the Giants last season. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was with the Eagles. Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole was with the Panthers. Those ties could influence the Rams' thinking.

Rams: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
3:49
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Biggest surprise: The Rams cut former special-teams captain Todd Johnson, a safety, and they also flushed out two veteran receivers they hoped would contribute, Ronald Curry and Tim Carter. Keeping rookie quarterback Keith Null over the more experienced Brock Berlin made sense because the Rams' top two quarterbacks, Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller, have lots of seasoning. The biggest roster surprise came when the team traded 2006 first-round cornerback Tye Hill to the Falcons. Free-agent addition Quincy Butler stuck on the 53-man roster after a strong training camp and preseason. He looked better than Hill, frankly, and the Rams' new leadership wasn't afraid to part with symbols of past failures. Placing defensive tackle Adam Carriker on injured reserve cleared another spot.

No-brainers: The Rams also released linebacker K.C. Asiodu, defensive tackle Antwon Burton, tight end Eric Butler, defensive end Ian Campbell, linebacker Dominic Douglas, tackle Renardo Foster, fullback Jerome Johnson, center Tim Mattran, running back Chris Ogbonnaya, cornerback Cord Parks, running back Antonio Pittman, safety Mark Rubin, guard Roy Schuening, tackle Phil Trautwein and receiver Sean Walker.

What's next: The Rams still need to make one move by the 6 p.m. ET deadline for complying with the 53-man limit. With only four running backs on the roster, counting fullback Mike Karney, the team probably needs to seek help at the position. Backup Samkon Gado suffered injured ribs in the final exhibition game. The Rams lack quality depth and they are starting over. As a result, the team could pursue players released from other teams.

Update: The Rams placed defensive lineman Eric Moore on injured reserve to comply with the 53-man limit.

Practice-squad report: Rams

August, 21, 2009
8/21/09
10:14
AM ET
Rams eligible for
practice squad
Pos. Perceived Status
Marcus Brown
DB
Likely cut
Bradley Fletcher
DB Keeper
Justin King
DB Keeper
Cord Parks
DB Likely cut
David Roach
DB Likely cut
Mark Rubin
DB Likely cut
C.J. Ah You
DL Bubble
Ian Campbell
DL Likely cut
Eric Moore
DL Likely cut
Darell Scott
DL Keeper
K.C. Asiodu
LB Likely cut
Dominic Douglas
LB Likely cut
Larry Grant
LB Keeper
Jerome Johnson
LB
Likely cut
James Laurinaitis LB Keeper
Davd Vobora
LB Keeper
Tim Mattran
OL Likely cut
Daniel Sanders
OL Likely cut
Roger Allen
OL Bubble
Roy Schuening
OL Keeper
Mark Setterstrom
OL Keeper
Renardo Foster
OL Bubble
Jason Smith OL Keeper
Phil Trautwein
OL Likely cut
Eric Young
OL Likely cut
Brock Berlin
QB Bubble
Keith Null
QB
Bubble
Chris Ogbonnaya
RB Bubble
Eric Butler TE Likely cut
Jarrett Byers
WR Likely cut
Brooks Foster
WR Bubble
Nate Jones
WR Bubble
Sean Walker
WR Bubble

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

More Rams players are eligible for the practice squad this summer after the team parted with a long list of aging veterans this offseason.

The chart shows all 33 current Rams players with eligibility, arranged by position. The team had 24 players eligible when I produced a similar list nearly one year ago.

The lists come in handy when analyzing battles for the final few roster spots. I've added loose status descriptions for eligible players based on my general expectations.

To review: NFL teams must reduce rosters from 80 to 75 players Sept. 1. They must reduce to 53 players Sept. 5. They can begin forming eight-man practice squads Sept. 6 at noon ET.

The league explains the process this way:

"After 12 noon, New York time, clubs may establish a practice squad of eight players by signing free agents who do not have an accrued season of free-agency credit or who were on the 45-player active list for less than nine regular-season games during their only accrued season(s). A player cannot participate on the practice squad for more than three seasons."

The Rams have only one running back, seventh-round choice Chris Ogbonnaya, with practice-squad eligibility. Eight other NFC West running backs have eligibility.

I'll break out corresponding lists for the rest of the division, answering a frequently posed question that follows a familiar format: "Is so-and-so eligible for the practice squad?"

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams' roster requires additional study after a thorough house-cleaning this offseason. With so many new faces, I feel less familiar with the Rams than with the other teams in the division. This initial look at the roster will hopefully help bring some focus.

Donnie Avery's injury and overall health concerns at receiver could influence how many players the Rams carry into the season at the position.

Marc Bulger's broken pinky shouldn't affect the roster as long as he recovers on schedule. Teams must reduce to 75 players by Sept. 1 and 53 players by Sept. 5. Those initial 53-man rosters sometimes change by Week 1 kickoffs. For that reason, I've been focusing on Week 1 rosters when setting baseline expectations for each position.

St. Louis Rams
Week 1 Roster
Counts since 2003
QB RB WR TE OL DL LB DB ST
Fewest 2 5 5 2 9 8 5 8 2
Most 3 7 6 4 10 9 7 11 3
Average 2.8 5.5 5.5 3.0 9.2 8.3 6.3 9.7 2.7
Currently on roster
4
7 10 5 15 13 9 14 3

T
he chart provides a framework for how many players the Rams might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the Seahawks.

Here's a quick look at which Rams players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players:

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com sizes up the practice matchups between Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and second-year cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Urban: "Every pass in their direction becomes a mini-war, because they know it matters not only to them but to all the teammates that wait for the outcome as well as the fans." One battle turned into a brief confrontation, with Fitzgerald taking a stand. Fitzgerald: "I had to slam him down on his head. I am still chief when I am going against him. I didn't want him to think he was getting the best of me." 

Also from Urban: Kurt Warner doesn't expect to play much in the exhibition season, mainly because that has been the approach under Ken Whisenhunt. The team's decision to give Brian St. Pierre a chance to challenge Matt Leinart for the No. 2 job gives the Cardinals reason to dedicate more reps to that competition.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' move to draft Beanie Wells has brought out the best in Tim Hightower. Warner: "I've been very impressed. He's still got strength and still runs hard, but I've seen a burst a lot less hesitation in the way he plays this year. I'm really excited about where Tim's at and to complement with Beanie when he gets back, I think we're going to have a good one-two punch."

Also from McManaman: The Cardinals' injuries are not yet a major concern.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic peers into the Cardinals' offensive playbook. Coach Ken Whisenhunt says he's come up with plays during church.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com looks at the Rams' options without injured receiver Donnie Avery. Wagoner: "For now, the task of stepping into Avery's role will likely fall to the trio of Keenan Burton, Laurent Robinson and Tim Carter. In seven-on-seven drills on Monday morning, Spagnuolo used that group in three receiver sets, working Carter into the slot."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo singled out running back Samkon Gado for praise, stressing his versatility and value on special teams. Sounds like Gado has a very good chance at earning a 53-man roster spot if he keeps this up.

Also from Coats: Billy Bajema and James Butler were surprise combatants in the first fight of Rams training camp.

More from Coats: Mark Rubin gets a second chance with the Rams after Eric Bassey's injury. Also, Shaun Smith agreed to terms with the Lions after visiting the Rams.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams receiver Laurent Robinson has a chip on his shoulder after a disappointing run with the Falcons. Robinson: "Yeah, I've got a little chip on my shoulder. I want to show everybody I can still play, and I've still got it. And I've got a great opportunity here." 

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Spagnuolo's attention to detail extends to practicing kneel-down plays.

Also from Korte: James Hall seems to have the versatility Spagnuolo wants from a defensive lineman.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says he thought Nick Reed would vanish once the Seahawks put on pads. That did not happen, a credit to Reed.

John Morgan of Field Gulls offers notes from a recent Seahawks practice. Morgan: "What separates Justin Forsett from the typical undersized rusher is his ability and willingness to run inside. Teammates often looked a little concerned after he was tackled, but Force never looked worse for wear. He showed good hands and improved redirect on runs after catch. Forsett is going to play a big part in this year's team. It underlines just how foolish it was to let him go last season."

Also from Morgan: He finds tight end John Carlson to be "remarkable" during a recent practice.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times checks in with Seahawks fullback Justin Griffith, a throwback player who doesn't like the label.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times takes a position-by-position look at the Seahawks' roster on offense.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Mike Singletary is considering waiting until after the third exhibition game before naming a starting quarterback. Also, Frank Gore will not play much in the exhibition opener against Denver.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the "smart money" is on Shaun Hill to work with the first-team offense in the exhibition opener.

Also from Maiocco: Alex Smith must watch practice from the 49ers' training hill as punishment for throwing an interception.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes Singletary as saying the 49ers were worse off than any NFL franchise in the last 20 or 30 years when Mike Nolan took over.

The 49ers' Web site carries a transcript from Singletary's news conference. Singletary on what he wants from Thomas Clayton: "I think it is just a matter of knowing his responsibilities -- getting consistency with blitz pickups, hitting the hole, not dancing as much, all those little things like that. He is certainly going to give you everything he has every play. It is just a matter of having it down in terms of where I need to be, my protection area, my protection responsibilities and those sort of things."

49ers.com asks Damon Huard a series of off-beat questions. Here's Huard on the best training camp brawl he's seen: "It was when I was with the Kansas City Chiefs and we scrimmaged the Minnesota Vikings in August of '04. Shaun Hill was there, he caused all of the trouble ... just kidding. It was actually started by Brock Lesnar, the mixed martial arts fighter. He hyperextended my elbow when he wasn't supposed to hit the other team's quarterback. Next thing I knew, both teams break out into a big fight. We had to actually cancel practice. I think the next day, we left early. After that, we didn't scrimmage anymore -- '04 was just crazy. You talk about brawls. It was a melee!"

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Singletary will welcome Mike Nolan to Candlestick Park. Singletary: "The most important thing that I learned from Coach Nolan was mental toughness and character and work ethic." Seems as though Singletary was pretty well established in those areas on his own.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The Rams appear content moving forward with their current receivers after learning Donnie Avery suffered a broken fourth metatarsal bone. They added safety Mark Rubin to replace the injured Eric Bassey.

I arrived at Rams camp in time to watch most of their afternoon practice. This was a non-contact practice without pads. I did not see pass-rush drills and did not see enough from the healthy receivers to get an initial feel for them. Nate Jones and Sean Walker caught deep passes. Friday will provide a much better opportunity to get a feel for the Rams.

Running back Kenneth Darby and quarterback Keith Null botched a handoff exchange. Running back Antonio Pittman dropped a short pass from Kyle Boller. Rubin picked off a pass from Null after a teammate whose identity eluded me batted it near the line of scrimmage.

Adam Goldberg was still working with the starters at right tackle, ahead of No. 2 overall choice Jason Smith. Smith won't get a break in this camp as long as Leonard Little is healthy. That's a difficult matchup for the best veteran tackles, let alone a rookie. I'll be watching Smith very closely in the Rams' exhibition opener against the Jets.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams have announced the signings of 15 undrafted free agents:

  • Ekenemchukwu Asiodu, LB, Central Oklahoma State
  • Dominic Douglas, LB, Mississippi State
  • Jerome Johnson, FB, Nevada-Reno
  • Cordelius Parks, CB, Northeastern
  • Mark Rubin, SS, Penn State
I have not seen these players play. Some of you surely have seen them. Impressions?

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