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St. Louis Rams offseason roster review: Still solid on special teams

6/2/2015

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams have officially begun organized team activities and with most of the offseason heavy lifting complete, the roster you see now likely has the vast majority of players who will be on it come the start of the regular season.

With that in mind, we'll spend the next week or so delving into each position group with some thoughts on who will start, who might be on the bubble and how the depth chart could shake out.

Position: Special teams

Returning: P Johnny Hekker, K Greg Zuerlein, LS Jake McQuaide, PR Tavon Austin, KR Benny Cunningham

Newcomers: P Michael Palardy, LS Tyler Ott

Departures: None

Projected starter(s): P Hekker, K Zuerlein, LS McQuaide, PR Austin, KR Cunningham

Battle to watch: There doesn't figure to be much in the way of drama here with Hekker, Zuerlein and McQuaide all but guaranteed to keep their jobs barring injury. The same can probably be said for Austin and Cunningham though theoretically Cunningham might be pushed for his job. Yes, Cunningham finished last season first in the NFC in kick return average in 2014 at 27.5 yards per attempt. That was also fifth in the NFL. But the Rams might want to tinker with finding someone who can offer a little more explosion and they are getting running back Isaiah Pead healthy. Pead was a contender for the job and had done it before his injury last season. If the Rams want to change up looks, perhaps Pead could push Cunningham but ultimately there's probably not much to see here in terms of a major position battle.

Outlook: This is a solid group that has now been together for a few consecutive years and doesn't lack for chemistry. Hekker remains one of the best in the league at his position and his ability to throw the ball gives the Rams something of a secret weapon for fakes. Zuerlein has had some ups and downs but the downs have mostly been limited to when kicking on a sloppy surface. It is a contract year for him, though, so he'd do well to have a strong season to ensure his future with the team. McQuaide is as solid as ever and doesn't look to be going anywhere. The Rams would like more from Austin overall but he is a dangerous returner who could also stand to be a bit more consistent with his decision-making. Cunningham is decisive and solid, though not as explosive as someone like Austin. All told, the Rams have a nice corps in place here that's been working with coach John Fassel for three-plus years and should again be one of the strongest units on the team.