Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Notes from the Rams' first depth chart
By Nick Wagoner
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Since it's officially a game week -- albeit a preseason game -- the St. Louis Rams released their first unofficial depth chart of the season Monday afternoon.
The operative word here is unofficial, and that must be kept in mind with all parts of what I'm about to write here. Some of the following seem to match up with what the Rams are doing on the practice field and some of it doesn't. Either way, take it with the proper dose of salt knowing that there are a few things that always factor in.
For example, in most cases, veterans or returning players get the benefit of the doubt over rookies. Some rookies may be playing more with the first or second team than they are listed here, but for now, they are still being asked to earn promotions.
With all of that said, here are a few things that stood out on the Rams' first unofficial depth chart of the 2014 season:
• While the vast majority of the starter spots are accounted for, wide receiver was one place where shuffling seemed possible, if not likely. Sure enough, there's a different look there than what was expected entering camp. Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin are listed as the starters with Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey as the second-teamers. This mostly lines up with how reps are divvied up on the practice field right now, and those four have been the team's best wideouts in this camp. Chris Givens, who was once presumed a starter, is now listed as part of the third team along with Austin Pettis. While this is unofficial, this is one spot where it seems there's truth in advertising.
• The offensive line is as expected with Greg Robinson listed as the starting left guard along with Jake Long at left tackle, Scott Wells at center, Rodger Saffold at right guard and Joe Barksdale at right tackle. No surprises there. The depth behind that group will be a more interesting tale. Mike Person is listed as second team at left guard, a position he's been playing in camp after working mostly at tackle. The Rams have plenty to sort out here, and it's also worth noting that Tim Barnes is the No. 2 center with Barrett Jones at No. 3 right now.
• There doesn't appear to be any real competition to Zac Stacy for the starting running back job. The real battle is how things will shake out behind him. Right now, Benny Cunningham is listed second with Isaiah Pead and Chase Reynolds third and Tre Mason and Trey Watts fourth. Stacy and Cunningham have certainly looked like the top two. Mason behind Pead and Reynolds seems to be one of those veterans over rookie spots mentioned earlier.
• The quarterback group offers another veteran over rookie exception with Austin Davis listed third and rookie Garrett Gilbert fourth. Gilbert has been getting more reps than Davis on a consistent basis and even taken reps with the second team. Barring some major changes, Gilbert is the likely third quarterback, assuming the Rams keep one.
• The defense offers little in the way of surprises. The starting 11 is as expected unless you thought Aaron Donald would be listed as a starter. The rookie is listed as second team behind Michael Brockers but none of that matters much with the defensive line anyway. Their top eight should all play and play quite a bit.
• The battle for backup spots at linebacker and in the secondary has a long way to go to gain clarity. For what it's worth, Brandon McGee and E.J. Gaines are listed as the primary backups at cornerback with Cody Davis and Maurice Alexander in backup roles at safety. Phillip Steward, Daren Bates and Ray-Ray Armstrong are the three backup linebackers. One interesting note is that Lamarcus Joyner is listed as the No. 3 free safety rather than a cornerback. But Joyner is getting most of his work as the nickel corner. Yet another example of why the term unofficial is important when going through exercises such as these.
• The Rams open the preseason Friday night against New Orleans at the Edward Jones Dome, offering all players on the depth chart a prime opportunity to change their standing for next week.