Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Tuesday Rams' depth chart musings
By Nick Wagoner
The St. Louis Rams sent out their weekly game release Tuesday afternoon. In it, they list an unofficial depth chart. It's important to note the word unofficial there so the starting lineup could look different when the Rams play the Cardinals on Sunday and not just because of sub-packages, etc.
Here's the first look at that unofficial depth chart followed by some quick thoughts on things that stick out to me.
QB - Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens
RB - Daryl Richardson, Zac Stacy, Chase Reynolds, Benny Cunningham
WR - Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey
WR - Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin
LT - Jake Long, Joe Barksdale
LG - Chris Williams, Shelley Smith
C - Scott Wells, Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones
RG - Harvey Dahl, Brandon Washington
RT - Rodger Saffold, Barksdale
TE - Jared Cook, Cory Harkey
TE - Lance Kendricks, Mike McNeill
• The first thing that sticks out is Williams starting at left guard. That would come as no surprise should it happen but the Rams have made no official announcement to that end. Many times when there's a question about a starter, a team will list it as 'Player A or Player B' with the first unit. Williams has seemed to be in the lead for the position for most of the preseason so he's the guy I'd expect to start. Again, unofficial but things have been trending that way for awhile.
• No surprise to see Stacy listed as first backup to Richardson. Reynolds ahead of Cunningham may be a bit more of a surprise, but that could be a function of time in the league moreso than an indication of potential carries. Fact is, I'd expect to see Reynolds on special teams against the Cardinals and Stacy get the bulk of the carries behind Richardson.
• Obviously, the Rams are going to use three receivers plenty. So seeing Austin as a "backup" shouldn't be a concern. He'll play and play a lot.
• No fullback but two tight ends listed. Think we're going to see a lot of Kendricks and Cook on the field together? It seems almost certain. Kendricks played a lot in a fullback type of role last year anyway so it'd be no surprise if that continued this season with Cook moving around and doing different things as well.
• No real surprises on the offensive line. Barksdale is the swing tackle and would get first crack to step in for Saffold and Long. If another tackle was needed, the question remains whether Washington would step in or, more likely, Smith would step in at guard and Williams would kick outside.
LDE - Chris Long, William Hayes, Gerald Rivers
LDT - Kendall Langford, Matt Conrath
RDT - Michael Brockers, Jermelle Cudjo
RDE - Robert Quinn, Eugene Sims
RLB - Will Witherspoon, Daren Bates
MLB - James Laurinaitis, Jonathan Stewart
LLB - Alec Ogletree, Ray-Ray Armstrong
LCB - Cortland Finnegan, Trumaine Johnson, Brandon McGee
RCB - Janoris Jenkins, Quinton Pointer
FS - Rodney McLeod, Darian Stewart
SS - T.J. McDonald, Matt Giordano, Matt Daniels
• Again, no real surprises here but worth noting McLeod's presence in the lineup at free safety. That could easily be a function of Stewart's on-going hamstring injury problems but McLeod impressed in the preseason and seems to have more upside for the role. The Rams like to call their safeties interchangeable but with McLeod in the lineup, a more traditional free and strong safety designation would make sense.
• As a rookie, McGee is listed last among the corners, but I wonder if he'd be last in the pecking order if another corner needed to come in beyond the top three of Finnegan, Jenkins and Johnson. My guess is he'd be fourth in the order (assuming he's healthy), but it's also fair to question whether he'll be active on game day if the Rams only go with four corners on the gameday list. Pointer brings some special teams value and versatility, and McLeod is technically the backup nickel corner.
P - Johnny Hekker
K - Greg Zuerlein
H - Hekker
LS - Jake McQuaide
PR - Austin, Pettis
KR - Cunningham, Austin, Givens
• The kick returner job has been up for grabs. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said on his radio show Monday night to "stay tuned" to see who catches the first kickoff of the season for his team. From my view, if the Rams don't want to use Austin in that role, Cunningham earned a shot in the preseason. It was a small sample size, but he had two strong kick returns and looked good doing it in practice. The Rams can afford to keep a fourth back active if both Cunningham and Reynolds are key special teams contributors. With Isaiah Pead suspended for the first week, why not give Cunningham the chance to take the job and run with it?
One final disclaimer that this depth chart is unofficial, so take with whatever amount of salt you deem necessary. Still some interesting discussions to be had from the list regardless.