St. Louis Rams: Davin Joseph

Rams will be without four Sunday

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams wrapped up their preparations for the San Diego Chargers on Friday and will now head to the West Coast on Friday night.

When it comes time to reveal pregame inactives, the Rams won't have much room for suspense. Four players have already been ruled out. Defensive tackle Alex Carrington (knee), cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (groin), receiver Damian Williams (hamstring) and cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) have already been ruled out.

As for defensive end Chris Long, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said it's possible but unlikely that Long will be activated for Sunday's game. More likely, Long will have to wait until next week's game against Oakland.

Here's the full rundown of Friday's injury report:

Out: DT Alex Carrington (knee), CB Lamarcus Joyner (groin), WR Damian Williams (hamstring), CB Marcus Roberson (ankle).

Questionable: TE Cory Harkey (quad), LS Jake McQuaide (back) and TE Jared Cook (back).

Probable: LB James Laurinaitis (foot), LB Daren Bates (groin), OL Davin Joseph (not injury related), LB Will Herring (foot).
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams returned to practice Thursday, taking the workout outside into the chilly St. Louis weather. But they made it through the exercise and got a couple of players who rested Wednesday back on the field.

Linebacker James Laurinaitis (foot) and guard Davin Joseph (coach's decision) were back in the mix after resting Wednesday. They were both full participants in the workout. Tight end Jared Cook (back) also got back on the field, though his work was limited.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said defensive end Chris Long is still progressing toward a return but they'll have to wait and see for any hope for this weekend. If the Rams did decide to activate Long (or when they do), they'll have to make a corresponding roster move.

Here's the full Thursday injury report:

Did not participate: WR Damian Williams (hamstring), CB Lamarcus Joyner (groin), TE Cory Harkey (quad), CB Marcus Roberson (ankle), LB Will Herring (foot) and DT Alex Carrington (knee).

Limited participation: TE Jared Cook (back)

Full participation: LB James Laurinaitis (foot), OG Davin Joseph (coach's decision) and LB Daren Bates (groin).
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As the 2014 season reaches its final weeks, the St. Louis Rams are taking a more cautious approach with their injured players with the knowledge that it can help them be more effective on Sundays.

Laurinaitis
That's particularly true for Wednesday practices. The Rams listed 10 total players on Wednesday's injury report, nine of whom did not participate in the workout.

Coach Jeff Fisher said allowing for players like linebacker James Laurinaitis (foot) to rest on Wednesday can be helpful by the time Sunday rolls around.

"It's been helping," Fisher said. "James took last Wednesday off and he felt much better at game time. So those kind of things, you have to deal with them all individually."

Many of the players on the injury report were holdovers from a similar designation last Wednesday, but there were a couple of news additions. Tight ends Jared Cook (back) and Cory Harkey (quad) did not practice and guard Davin Joseph also sat out the workout for reasons that were not injury related.

Fisher indicated some of the players on Wednesday's report would be ready to go Thursday. Linebacker Daren Bates (groin) was a full participant.

Elsewhere, end Chris Long continues to make progress toward a return though there's nothing definite yet on when it will happen.

Here's the full breakdown of Wednesday's injury report:

Did not participate: WR Damian Williams (hamstring), CB Lamarcus Joyner (groin), TE Cory Harkey (quad), CB Marcus Roberson (ankle), LB Will Herring (foot), LB James Laurinaitis (foot), OG Davin Joseph (coach's decision), TE Jared Cook (back) and DT Alex Carrington (knee).

Full participation: LB Daren Bates (groin).
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- After four games of relative inactivity, the St. Louis Rams' No. 2 overall pick, Greg Robinson, will make his first NFL start Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

Robinson
Technically, Robinson will replace right guard Davin Joseph but his addition to the starting offensive lineup will actually be at left guard. Left guard Rodger Saffold moves to right guard with Joseph heading to a reserve role.

Robinson handled the majority of the repetitions with the first team in practice all week and has apparently made enough strides to crack the lineup after spending the first four games in a backup and special teams role.

“Well I think first and foremost, you hear him making calls and understanding the system," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "That’s been good to see. You see him working, you see him getting reps, he’s doing a nice job. It’s a process. We saw it last year with some of those guys like (WR) Tavon (Austin) some of the younger plays it takes time. Especially for a guy coming from a school that had a limited playbook, they didn’t do a whole lot. Again, you see the confidence, you see him making calls, you see him in meetings even kind of communicating things that he wouldn’t of seen maybe three, four months ago, so that’s exciting. Again, going to be a really, really good player in this league.”

Robinson will certainly face a stiff first test against a Niners defense that boasts big names like Justin Smith, Patrick Willis and Ahmad Brooks. And he'll be doing it at a position which is still relatively new to him after leaving Auburn as the team's left tackle.

When the Rams drafted Robinson in May, they said they'd hoped Robinson could plug in at left guard right away and put him in there early in training camp. But that project got short shrift as an injury to Rodger Saffold and the time it took left tackle Jake Long to work back from knee surgery had Robinson alternating between tackle and guard.

As it turned out, Robinson wasn't ready to help right away at either spot and the Rams opted for Joseph. Since, Robinson has continued to practice at both spots but has made enough strides in his understanding of the playbook and the guard position to earn an opportunity.

"Mentally, yeah, I’ve seen him improving," Saffold said. "He’s already a big guy, strong and has some good athleticism. When he knows what to do, he does some great things so that’s what we are trying to get him to."

With Robinson settling in at left guard, Saffold will move back to the right guard spot where he excelled in 2013. Saffold has moved around plenty since being drafted in 2010, including stints at both tackle spots and now both guard spots. But there's still a bit of a re-learning curve in moving back to the right side even though he spent the final part of last season there.

"It’s another transition," Saffold said. "I wouldn’t say that it’s tough on me but it is a challenge. Whatever I’m called to do, I’ll go over there and do the job."

Rams-Buccaneers: Matchup breakdown

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
8:00
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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A look at three matchups to keep an eye on when the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet at 4:05 p.m. ET Sunday.

Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins versus Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson

With rookie E.J. Gaines starting on the opposite side of Jenkins, the Rams felt comfortable enough with Jenkins that they allowed him to spend much of the opener isolated one-on-one while sending extra help to Gaines' side.

Jenkins had a solid first outing against the Vikings last week and has a history of faring better against bigger receivers. But Jackson has had his share of success against the Rams in the past two seasons and his combination of size and speed always makes for a difficult matchup. In those two meetings over the past two seasons, Jackson has posted 12 catches for 206 yards with no touchdowns.

The Rams have generally opted not to shadow receivers with a particular corner so Jenkins might not be matched up with Jackson at all times. With Gaines still adjusting to the league on the other side and Gaines' previous success against Mike Evans in college, it would serve the Rams well to allow Jenkins to find himself opposite Jackson as much as possible.

Rams right guard Davin Joseph versus Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy

These two former teammates should see plenty of each other this week though McCoy has been known to move all over the line at various points during his time in the league. McCoy is one of the game's best defensive tackles, an all around player equally adept at stopping the run as rushing the passer. McCoy picked up where he left off last year in the first week with a sack, a quarterback hit, a quarterback hurry and four tackles.

Joseph, meanwhile, is still hoping to regain the form that once made him one of the league's more effective guards. He struggled against Minnesota last week, a common theme along the offensive line, but he figures to have a little added motivation against the team that released him this week. There's no way the Rams will leave Joseph on his own to handle McCoy but on the occasions the pair do square off one-on-one, Joseph will have to be at his best to have any chance of preventing McCoy from completely wrecking the Rams' game plan.

Rams defensive end Robert Quinn versus Buccaneers left tackle Anthony Collins

I promise not to lean on Quinn versu "Fill in the blank" every week for this feature but I'm going back to the well again this week because of what Quinn was able to do against Tampa Bay in 2013. In the season's second to last week, Quinn thoroughly dominated Tampa left tackle Donald Penn with three sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and six tackles.

Not that Quinn was the sole reason the Bucs went looking for an upgrade at left tackle in the offseason but he certainly did his part to ensure they'd spend $30 million over five years to land Collins. Collins had a solid, if unspectacular debut, against Carolina, allowing a single quarterback hit but not offering much in the run game. He'll get another tough test in Quinn this week though it stands to reason the Bucs will do plenty to help Collins out.

The Bucs spent plenty of time throwing extra blockers Quinn's way last season and that will likely continue Sunday. Likewise, the Bucs will probably mix in plenty of short passes to help nullify the Rams' pass rush like Minnesota did last week. That puts the onus on Quinn to get home and make plays when the rare chance to do so arises.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- From the moment soft-spoken guard Davin Joseph signed with the St. Louis Rams he began going about his business as he always does: in the most professional way possible.

Joseph signed with the Rams on May 28 after his original team, Tampa Bay, released him during the offseason. At the time, Joseph said he weighed his options and ultimately believed St. Louis would be the right place to get a fresh start after eight years with the Buccaneers.

Upon arrival in St. Louis, Joseph sounded like a man content to do whatever the Rams asked of him, and though he wanted to prove he still has some gas in the tank, he looked poised to be the team's only veteran backup option.

[+] EnlargeDavin Joseph
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsVeteran guard Davin Joseph has found a home with the Rams after starting his career with Tampa Bay.
As it turns out, Joseph did much more than offer some experience behind the starters. Heading in to Sunday's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, Joseph is to start for the Rams at his familiar right guard position.

"The goal was to make the football team, and then of course make an impact," Joseph said. "So whatever that may be, however I can help, that’s what I’m here for."

To open the season, how Joseph can help is by providing a steady presence on an offensive line that seems to be in a perpetual state of flux. Throughout the preseason the Rams went stretches of time without the services of left tackle Jake Long, center Scott Wells and left guard Rodger Saffold. With rookie Greg Robinson struggling to settle in and bouncing between left guard and left tackle, Joseph joined right tackle Joe Barksdale in providing some semblance of stability on the right side.

Unexpected though it might have been, Joseph's ascent probably shouldn't surprise. After all, aside from Long he is the most accomplished lineman on the roster. Once considered one of the league's premiere guards, the 6-foot-3, 313-pound Joseph has played in 100 games and earned a pair of trips to the Pro Bowl.

The past two seasons have been a nightmare for Joseph as he has dealt with a serious knee injury and a staph infection. The former cost Joseph the entire 2012 season, and the latter kept him from returning to form in 2013.

As the difficulties of those two seasons piled up, the Bucs decided to part ways with Joseph, who also believed it best to start over. In St. Louis, Joseph said he has found exactly what he was looking for.

"I think being a Ram has been the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time, so it’s strange how things happen," Joseph said. "When you get released by one team and picked up by another team, you don’t quite know what your role is, you just come to work, shut up and do your job. You just learn every day. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve arrived here. I’ve really enjoyed the journey so far."

Joseph played 70 snaps in the preseason as the Rams reconfigured things based on who was available each week. It became apparent when he started the third preseason game against Cleveland that he was in line to nail down a starting spot. His experience certainly works in his favor, even if he has struggled the past two years.

"I think last year he was kind of coming back of some bumps and bruises things like that," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "Wow, what a pro. Comes to work every day, probably one of the strongest guys we have up front in terms of just the sets he uses and getting his hands on people, things like that. But consummate pro.”

At just 30 years old, Joseph believes he has plenty of football in him and is out to prove he can still perform at a high level. In the Rams' run-heavy offense, they will need him to at least become a reasonable facsimile of the player he once was for the group to have success.

"When you enjoy going to work, it’s a lot better than just going to work," Joseph said. "When you actually look forward to going to work every day, there’s a lot of positive energy. So that’s been a major difference is that since I’ve been in St. Louis, I’ve really looked forward to going to work every day. That’s been a lot different than some of my years in Tampa, not all, but some, where it wasn’t really that enjoyable experience."
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For the better part of the past three weeks, it's become increasingly apparent that Greg Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick of the St. Louis Rams, was not going to be a Day 1 starter at any position on the offensive line.

Robinson
In response to a question about Robinson's progress, Rams coach Jeff Fisher confirmed what was already suspected late Wednesday afternoon.

"We made the decision that in the opener that we're better off going with experience," Fisher said. "Doesn't mean to say that he won't play in the game, but we're going to go with guys that have a lot of snaps under their belt right now.”

And by that, Fisher means the Rams are going to go with Rodger Saffold at left guard and Davin Joseph at right guard. With Jake Long and Joe Barksdale penciled in at left and right tackle, respectively, that means Robinson's role in Week 1 will be limited to playing in a swing role off the bench.

That move has been in the making since the third preseason game against the Cleveland Browns when the Rams opened the game with Robinson not in the starting lineup. That happened sooner than expected when Saffold left with an ankle injury.

Robinson spent the preseason and training camp playing left guard and left tackle, never settling into a position, which almost certainly made his transition to the league that much harder.

Fisher said Wednesday that's not the case.

“Nothing hurts him at all," Fisher said. "It does not hurt him at all. I was told Orlando Pace, first player in the draft didn't play till Week 5. There's no issue here. He's going to be an outstanding player. Our focus right now is putting the guys on the field that we think gives us our best chance to win right now.”

What's left unsaid there is that Pace was also a holdout in his rookie season and didn't sign his contract until the day of the team's final preseason game in 1997. He didn't have the benefit of the full offseason program and first three weeks of training camp. Then again, he also wasn't asked to play multiple positions when he did arrive.

Of course, none of that is to say that Robinson isn't going to turn into a good player in the NFL. It was no secret he was going to need refinement upon entering the league from a run-oriented offense at Auburn in which he did little in the way of pass protection. Drafting beyond the scope of a player's rookie season is fine, even logical, but the same can be said for putting that player in one spot and letting him develop so he can contribute right away.

To this point, Robinson seems like a hard worker with the desire to be great. Whether he will be or not, nobody knows. But even if Fisher insists there's nothing wrong, it's more than fair for Rams fans to be disappointed that the No. 2 overall pick in the draft isn't in the starting lineup in Week 1.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams wrapped up organized team activities with their ninth and final practice Thursday. For those keeping score at home, yes, that's a day earlier than expected; coach Jeff Fisher canceled Friday's previously planned practice.

As always, it should be noted that much of what happens in these OTAs should be taken with a grain of salt (especially for the linemen). The players are not in pads and contact must be extremely limited. It's best not to get too excited or too down on anything that happens.

Back to back for Bradford: Quarterback Sam Bradford spent the bulk of OTAs on a strict plan for his involvement. Usually, that meant a couple of periods of seven-on-seven drills and a period of hurry-up in team drills. But Bradford did a little more than usual Thursday and did extensive work in back-to-back practices for the first time in the offseason. Bradford had gone two in a row earlier but was more limited in one of those practices.

Bradford
Bradford
Bradford was also at his sharpest, at least relative to the other sessions open to the media. Now, for the first time since he suffered his knee injury in October, Bradford will get to spend quality time back home in Oklahoma. Bradford said he feels good and all signs point to him being ready to go when training camp opens.

"I was really happy with everything that went on during the OTAs," Bradford said. "A big part of it for me was obviously physically getting back out on to the field, seeing how my knee reacted. It's been fantastic. We were actually able to do a little more than we anticipated so that's very positive.

"Out there today, it felt probably the best its felt all OTAs and [I'm] just really looking to build on that."

Line dancing: Working without the services of left tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells, the Rams tweaked things on the offensive line a bit. Rodger Saffold kicked out to left tackle with Davin Joseph sliding in at right guard and Barrett Jones got work at center with the first team. Long did some work in individual drills.

It doesn't mean much at this point since the Rams are anticipating Long and Wells returning to the fold soon enough, but it was a departure from the previous alignments in which Sean Hooey or Mike Person had rotated at left tackle. Tim Barnes has also taken reps at center in the days where Wells has been absent.

Sitting it out: The Rams got some players back to practice but still had their share of missing pieces. Receiver Jamaine Sherman, safety Christian Bryant, safety Maurice Alexander, running back Chase Reynolds, linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong, Wells, Long, defensive tackle Michael Brockers and defensive end William Hayes did not participate.

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson, defensive tackle Kendall Langford and safety Matt Daniels returned to work after not practicing Tuesday. Daniels had missed most of the workouts but was able to finish Thursday and had a couple of pass breakups in team drills.

Receiver Kenny Britt and cornerback Darren Woodard, both of whom left Tuesday's practice early, were back and participated.

Closing competition: Per custom, Fisher put his offensive and defensive lineman through a punt-catching drill to wrap up the final OTA. The drill asks the linemen to stand about 80 yards removed from the JUGS machine and catch a punt. The side that catches more doesn't have to run a final round of wind sprints.

In an impressive showing, the defense came up with five grabs to win and force the offense to run.

Final impressions: Receiver Stedman Bailey made a strong closing argument before training camp, coming up with a few impressive grabs, including a diving catch for a touchdown from Bradford during seven-on-seven.

In what was one of the more impressive and humorous plays of the day, undrafted rookie defensive tackle Ethan Westbrooks broke up a pass by batting it into the air then showed concentration by snatching it for an interception. The enthusiastic cheers coming from his defensive teammates quickly turned to laughter as Harlin got turned around and began running the wrong way before course correcting.

Looking ahead: With OTAs and the offseason now complete, the Rams will disappear for a little while. The rookies must stay through Friday but after that, it will be quiet around Rams Park until rookies report July 21. The veterans will join them July 24 with the first open practice set for July 25.

Fisher has already given the team the annual talk about making good decisions in the offseason and noted Thursday that there weren't any issues last year. He hopes for a repeat of that this time around.

When the Rams do return to St. Louis, Fisher said he expects most of the players who did not participate during OTAs to be ready to go. In addition to Long, Fisher said Bryant is the only other player who might not be fully ready to go at the start of camp.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- With Rodger Saffold all but signed to a lucrative free-agent contract with the Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams had already begun working on contingency plans.

In mid-March, as Saffold finished up a physical with Oakland doctors, the Rams were hosting free-agent guard Davin Joseph. A Rams contingent and Joseph were out to dinner discussing his possible fit with the team when the news came that Saffold's deal with the Raiders had been nullified by a failed physical.

The Rams still wanted Saffold and found themselves in what could have been an awkward situation were it not so confusing.

[+] EnlargeDavin Joseph
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsVeteran Davin Joseph has only been with the Rams for a week, but there are already signs things are going well for both team and guard.
"I really didn’t quite understand quite what was going on at the time," Joseph said. "I don’t think anybody really did."

When the situation finally crystallized, the Rams managed to re-sign Saffold and Joseph left St. Louis without a contract. The Rams had their starting right guard and the fit for Joseph became muddled.

But just because Joseph didn't necessarily have an obvious fit didn't mean the Rams lost all interest.

In fact, with Joseph working his way back from a knee injury and a staph infection which left him looking like a shell of his former Pro Bowl self, the market for Joseph figured to take time to play out. It allowed the Rams to maintain interest but go through the first waves of free agency and the draft first. In doing so, the team could re-assess it's offensive line depth and determine if there was still a fit for Joseph.

After selecting Greg Robinson with the No. 2 overall pick with the idea of playing him at left guard right away and failing to move back into the first round for offensive lineman Zack Martin, the Rams had a glaring need for experienced depth on the interior. Assuming Joseph would agree to such a role, he was a logical solution.

Joseph was originally a first-round pick in 2006, earning trips to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2011. But he suffered a severe knee injury that cost him the 2012 season, followed by a staph infection last spring and he struggled to get back to his former production last season.

After weighing interest from Dallas and New England, Joseph decided on a one-year deal with the Rams on May 28.

“We really liked the visit, were really excited about what we thought he could do for us from a depth standpoint and all that stuff," coach Jeff Fisher said. "We gave him an opportunity to come in and compete, but Davin, I think, is at a point now where you know he just wants to have fun. We hit it off well, so we decided to wait until after the draft and we got things put together.”

Although Joseph has only been in St. Louis for little more than a week, he's already making a positive impression on the coaching staff and his teammates. It's impossible to know how he's coming along as a blocker without wearing pads in organized team activities, but it's clear the Rams will piece together that plan as they go.

As it stands now, Joseph is the most experienced option the team has on the interior (he's played in 100 NFL games) but Saffold and Robinson are all but certain to start at the two guard spots. That figures to put Joseph in position to be the top option should something happen to either of them or perhaps step in at guard if Robinson or Saffold has to kick outside to tackle.

With the knee injury nearly two years behind him and the staph infection about a year in his past, Joseph at least appears to be healthy.

“He really is much better than he was when he came in for the visit," Fisher said. "He’s a pro. He knows how to rehab. He knows how to prepare for camp, and he’s doing fine right now.”

Joseph signed just a one-year deal, a contract commensurate with a player who doesn't have his history of success. And Joseph is only 30 years old. The chance for a bounce-back season would seem more reasonable for Joseph than many players signing a one-year "prove it" deal.

"I do feel like I have a lot left," Joseph said. "I feel like I can contribute to this team. I don’t know how big or how small my role will be, but I feel like I can contribute. If it’s just coming out here and really working to make the guys better then that’s my job and I’ll do it the best that I can."
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams held their third organized team activity and second session open to the media Friday.

After a heated practice Thursday, things normalized a bit Friday but there were still some worthwhile notes to come from the practice. One quick thing before we get into that, I just want to note that much of what happens in these OTAs should be taken with a grain of salt (especially for the linemen). The players are not in pads and contact must be extremely limited. It's best not to get too excited or too down on anything that happens.

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
Jeff Roberson/AP PhotoRams quarterback Sam Bradford throws during an organized team activity at the team's practice facility on Friday.
Away we go...

Bradford works: As planned, quarterback Sam Bradford did participate in Friday's practice after sitting out Thursday as he works his way back from knee surgery. Bradford worked in a couple of seven-on-seven drills, one in normal offense and one in the red zone. A little more surprising was the fact Bradford took reps with the first offense during full team drills as they worked on the two-minute offense.

For what it's worth, Bradford looked sharp in his reps. His drops were mostly clean and the ball had his usual velocity when he did uncork a pass. Bradford does indeed appear to be right on schedule for a full-time return at training camp.

More line dancing: With left tackle Jake Long not expected to return from his own knee surgery until midway through training camp at the earliest, Rams coach Jeff Fisher has made it clear the team won't be messing with the stability of the other positions on the line. That means rookie Greg Robinson and Rodger Saffold will remain stable at their spots at left and right guard, respectively.

As for Long's spot, the Rams will continue to look at some of their younger developmental prospects. On Thursday, Sean Hooey got an opportunity to work with the projected starting line. On Friday, it was Mike Person's turn to step in. It's increasingly clear how confident the Rams are that Long will be back for the opener.

Elsewhere on the line, center Scott Wells returned to practice as expected. In other words, the Rams are working with four of their five projected starters right now.

Sitting it out: The Rams still have their share of players not participating in OTAs. In addition to Long, the Rams were without defensive ends William Hayes and Sammy Brown, running back Chase Reynolds and safeties Maurice Alexander, Christian Bryant and Matt Daniels.

Bouncing back: Wide receiver Brian Quick had some rough moments in Thursday's practice but was much sharper during Friday's workout. On one play in seven-on-seven drills, Quick ran a sharp route down the seam, faked inside, getting cornerback Brandon McGee to bite, turned to the outside and made a diving catch on an under thrown ball. But Quick had cleared enough space to get up and finish the play for a touchdown.

McGee, who also had some rough moments Thursday, also showed some resilience, coming up with an interception a few plays later after reading the play and getting a good break on the ball.

Both players need to come with more consistency in the next few months to solidify their spots.

Upcoming schedule: The Rams will be back on the practice field for another open OTA session on Tuesday and Thursday next week.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- True to their word, the St. Louis Rams have been one of the least active teams in free agency this year.

Instead of the big, splashy signings of recent years, the Rams opted to be bargain shoppers with the re-signings of offensive lineman Rodger Saffold and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar as the only deals extending beyond a single year.

That should come as no surprise as the Rams indicated that would be their approach early in the offseason. In sticking to that approach, the team has signed quarterback Shaun Hill, defensive lineman Alex Carrington, receiver Kenny Britt and guard Davin Joseph to one-year deals.

After adding 11 more players through the draft, the roster is mostly set and the initial 53 players to make the team out of camp will probably come from the group that's already in St. Louis. But the Rams could still make a couple of tweaks here and there to add depth, like they did in signing Joseph late last week.

Last year, the Rams continued looking at veteran options deep into the offseason, signing safety Matt Giordano on June 15 and linebacker Will Witherspoon on July 18. Of course, part of the Witherspoon addition later became clear because of a pending suspension for Dunbar, but Witherspoon did provide some much-needed depth behind the starting trio upon Dunbar's return.

Heading into 2014, the Rams have plenty of options at most positions, but linebacker and safety again represent logical positions where veteran depth might be needed.

At linebacker, the starting group of Dunbar, James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree is pretty well set. Ray-Ray Armstrong could push for playing time as he enters his second year, but beyond that, there simply aren't many known quantities in terms of contributing to the defense (and Armstrong isn't really one either). Armstrong and Daren Bates again figure to be core special teams players and the rest of the group includes unknown commodities like Etienne Sabino, Phillip Steward and Tavarius Wilson, among others.

The Rams could use a versatile, reliable veteran capable of playing anywhere in the group. As it stands, Dunbar is the de facto backup to Laurinaitis in the middle but adding someone who could play there as well at outside would make sense.

As for what's left on the market, should the Rams choose to add a veteran, Witherspoon, Pat Angerer, James Anderson, Jonathan Vilma, Desmond Bishop and Dan Connor are among the linebackers still unemployed.

At safety, the Rams have Rodney McLeod, T.J. McDonald and Maurice Alexander who seem all but certain to land roster spots. They'll probably keep four or five at the position leaving competition amongst the likes of Matt Daniels, Cody Davis and Christian Bryant.

Veteran safeties still on the market include Giordano, Quintin Mikell, Ed Reed, Jim Leonhard, Mike Adams and Will Hill.

Of course, all of the names mentioned above come with some sort of red flag -- age, off the field issues or simple lack of productivity -- which is why they're available this late in the game. The Rams have proved time and again they won't add veterans just for the sake of doing it, so any move made would be because they see an obvious upgrade to what they already have.

As the Rams open organized team activities this week, they'll get a chance to evaluate the players already on the roster. From there, they'll be able to determine if they need to dip their toes back into free agency.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams signed guard Davin Joseph to a one-year contract late last week, adding some much-needed veteran depth to the offensive line.

The former two-time Pro Bowler struggled in 2013 after missing 2012 with a knee injury. That combination ultimately cost Joseph his job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and left enough questions about his ability to rebound that he remained on the free-agent market for nearly three months.

Now at 30, Joseph will get a chance to bounce back on what looks like the very definition of a one-year prove-it deal.

Here's the breakdown of Joseph's contract with the Rams, per ESPN Stats & Information.

2014

Total possible value: $1.75 million

Base salary: $1.1 million

Roster bonus: $300,000 (paid on May 30)

Additional roster bonus: Up to $350,000 (earns $21,875 per game active)

Notes: The contract also allows for Joseph to earn up to an additional $1 million in what the league calls "not likely to be earned" incentives. Details of those NLTBE's were not immediately available.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- With the NFL draft and free agency complete, the St. Louis Rams' 53-man roster will likely come mostly from the players already on the team.

With organized team activities less than a week away, we take a look at where each position stands heading into next week. The next in the series continues today by examining the offensive line.

Who returns: Jake Long, Scott Wells, Rodger Saffold, Joe Barksdale, Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones, Brandon Washington, Sean Hooey, Mike Person

Who is new: Greg Robinson, Davin Joseph, Mitchell Van Dyk, Demetrius Rhaney, Abasi Salimu

Who is gone: Harvey Dahl, Shelley Smith, Chris Williams

Projected starters: Long, Robinson, Wells, Saffold, Barksdale

Pending competition: There's no position group on the roster with more possible flux than the offensive line. The starting five should be set but much will hinge on Long's health. If he's ready to go opening week, that starting five should be pretty well set. If not, the Rams will have to take a look at Robinson or Saffold at left tackle and plug Joseph in at the vacated guard spot. The real jockeying for position will come as the Rams evaluate their depth. Jones seems like a good bet to win a spot after the team used a fourth-round pick on him in 2013. The Rams went heavy on offensive linemen for most of last season, carrying double digits the majority of the time. If they do so again, there should be interesting battles on the interior among Joseph, Jones, Barnes, Washington and Rhaney and on the outside with Hooey, Person and Van Dyk. That's eight players probably competing for four or five spots at most. And the Rams could logically carry fewer linemen this year given the versatility and flexibility Saffold, Robinson and Jones provide.

Outlook: Much like last year, the potential for this group is such that it could be one of the league's best but with the caveat that remaining healthy will be the top priority. Long, Wells and Saffold have struggled with injury issues recently, problems that caused much of the line dancing the group had to do a year ago. Although the group managed to be mostly effective under the guidance of line coach Paul Boudreau, it struggled late in the season against the physical fronts of its NFC West brethren. To do battle with those defenses and be a more effective offense, the Rams will need less shuffling and more stability. For the long haul, only Robinson and Saffold seem to have clear spots. Long and Wells remain under contract beyond 2014 but the team could part ways with them after the year if they are unable to stay healthy and produce. Barksdale is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season. In the ideal scenario, young players like Jones and Washington will develop further in 2014 and give the Rams more flexibility for the future. In the meantime, the Rams have a starting group with the talent to excel so long as they can stay on the field.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In lieu of leading with a discussion of a link to an outside source, I figure we'll kick off today's activity by taking care of a couple of housekeeping duties.

First, the St. Louis Rams did indeed make it official with guard Davin Joseph on Wednesday afternoon, announcing the signing via Twitter. That was no surprise, as we reported Tuesday night that Joseph was in the process of finalizing a one-year deal with the team. Simply because this space in the Ram-blings would feel naked without a link, here's the blog post from Tuesday in which I discussed how Joseph will fit in St. Louis.

I'll have more on Joseph next week when the Rams have organized team activities and the accompanying availability. I'll also be sure to pass along the numbers on his contract when those come available -- though we do know it's a one-year deal at this point.

While Joseph is mostly a depth signing, he does come with a pair of Pro Bowls on the resume. Although Joseph is a name many know, the Rams also added another, lesser-known piece to the roster this week. They signed former McNeese State receiver/returner Diontae Spencer earlier this week.

Spencer signed with the Chicago Bears after the draft but the Bears put him back on the market right away and the Rams pounced. The 5-foot-9, 161-pound Spencer built a reputation among those who follow small-school college football for his speed and elusiveness. He'll have an uphill climb to make the roster but could get some chances to prove himself as a returner in preseason.

I.C.Y.M.I.

A roundup of Wednesday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... The Ram-blings began the day with a look at possible trades around the leagues and involving the Rams. ... In this week's NFL Nation Buzz, we discuss the coming development of first-round pick Greg Robinson as he moves to left guard. ... Finally, we continued the post-draft position outlook series with an examination of the Rams' current depth chart at tight end and receiver.

Elsewhere:


As always, good stuff from Dan Graziano on things he liked during what could be viewed as a tumultuous offseason for the NFL.

Jane McManus provides an interesting read making the argument for female referees to get their shot at work in the NFL.

Stlouisrams.com reviews the team's offseason.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In search of some veteran depth for their offensive line, the St. Louis Rams are in the process of finalizing a one-year deal with guard Davin Joseph.

Joseph
Joseph
Joseph originally visited with the Rams in mid-March as a potential solution for the expected departure of Rodger Saffold. When Saffold's deal with Oakland fell through and the Rams re-signed him to a lucrative deal, interest in Joseph was put on the back burner.

Through that time, the Rams remained open to adding a veteran for the interior, but clearly wanted to see what the draft would yield before adding a veteran inside. They also had expressed interest in Daryn Colledge and mentioned a possible return for Harvey Dahl along the way.

When the Rams came out of the draft with tackle Greg Robinson but didn't draft any more linemen until the seventh round, the need for some experience on the interior became more obvious.

Joseph comes to St. Louis from Tampa Bay, where he went to two Pro Bowls for the Bucs before injuries sidetracked his career. He was a first-round pick in 2006, earning trips to Hawaii in 2008 and 2011. But he suffered a severe knee injury that cost him the 2012 season, and he struggled to get back to his former production last season.

The Bucs released Joseph before free agency in March, saving $6 million against the salary cap. In addition to his visit to St. Louis, Joseph also made stops in New England and Dallas.

For the Rams, the expectation is that Joseph will provide depth behind projected starting guards Robinson and Saffold. Joseph also provides insurance in case left tackle Jake Long is unable to start the season. Long suffered a torn ACL and MCL against Joseph's former team late in the season.

As Long continues his rehabilitation, Joseph, who has played in 100 games (including playoffs), offers an experienced replacement inside who would allow the Rams to shift Robinson or Saffold outside until Long is ready.

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