- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Earlier, I posted a breakdown of how the Rams roster could shake out on defense and special teams. To complete the exercise, let's take look at what shape the offense might take after final cuts are made this weekend.
Again, keep in mind that some of this could change based on how things go in Thursday night's preseason finale. But for now, here's my best guess.
Kept in 2012: 2
This year: The only debate here is who will be the backup behind quarterback Sam Bradford. Last year, the Rams kept two in the original round of cuts, letting go of veteran Kellen Clemens. They brought him back after Week 1, making his contract non-guaranteed. Neither Austin Davis nor Clemens has done enough to clearly separate in the competition. It would be logical for the Rams to take the same approach this season should they choose to carry three for the bulk of the season again.
Prediction (2): Bradford, Davis
Kept in 2012: 4
This year: When Terrance Ganaway departed to pursue things other than football, this situation became pretty clear. Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham will make the roster. The Rams have a Week 1 exemption on Pead because of a suspension, which could potentially buy Chase Reynolds a one-week, special teams reprieve. Fullback Eric Stevens has had some reps with the first team in practice and is the only true fullback on the roster. It seems less likely the Rams will keep one this year, though, given the versatility of their tight ends, but Stevens remains something of a wild card in the mix.
Prediction (4): Richardson, Stacy, Cunningham, Reynolds
Suspension exemption: Pead
Kept in 2012: 4
This year: The Rams will almost certainly keep four again, and could even go as high as five depending on what they want to do at receiver. Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks are integral parts of the offense, and Kendricks will probably work in the fullback role on occasion. Cory Harkey is also well-positioned depending on the severity of an undisclosed injury he suffered in Denver. That would leave a battle between Mike McNeill and Zach Potter for the other spot. Potter is the better blocker and McNeill is more versatile. The decision will depend on which flavor the Rams prefer for that final tight end spot, or they might even keep both.
Prediction (5): Cook, Kendricks, Harkey, Potter, McNeill
Kept in 2012: 6
This year: Five wideouts -- Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey -- are essentially locked in here. The question is whether the Rams keep a sixth, and if so, who will it be? Justin Veltung and Nick Johnson are the top contenders for that job. Veltung’s special teams skills would likely earn him the job, assuming the Rams keep six.
Prediction (6): Givens, Pettis, Austin, Quick, Bailey, Veltung
Kept in 2012: 8
This year: The Rams actually carried more linemen into the opener, but had eight on the roster coming out of the initial wave of cuts. This year, they’ll likely keep eight or nine, but it would seem that eight is probably the more likely number again after the cuts are made. From there, the Rams might again be searching for depth on the waiver wire. Jake Long, Rodger Saffold, Scott Wells and Harvey Dahl are in. Chris Williams and Shelley Smith are competing at left guard, and it seems things are leaning Williams’ way for the starting job. Williams stays regardless because of versatility. Joe Barksdale will be the swing tackle. Rookie Barrett Jones will stick as an interior swingman, leaving one spot left. Smith would be the most likely to land the job, but if he doesn’t win the starting spot, it becomes a bit more tenuous because he’s strictly a guard. Tim Barnes is another option, but is probably redundant with Jones.
Prediction (8): Long, Saffold, Wells, Dahl, Williams, Barksdale, Jones, Smith
Total on offense: 25