St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin

Rams-Seahawks: Matchup breakdown

October, 18, 2014
Oct 18
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A look at three individual matchups to keep an eye on when the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks meet at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.

Rams linebackers James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree and Jo-Lonn Dunbar vs. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch

As always when you play the Seahawks, it all starts with slowing down Lynch first and worrying about the rest later. As Lynch goes, so go the Seahawks. In five games this season, Seattle is 3-0 when Lynch gains at least 100 yards from scrimmage and 0-2 when he doesn't. That is not a coincidence. There is also a direct correlation to time of possession involving the run game and whether the Seahawks win or lose. In their two losses, opponents have had the ball for an average of 39 minutes and 57 seconds.

In eight games against the Rams, Lynch has rushed for 758 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 4.26 yards per carry. Those aren't terrible numbers for the Rams, but Lynch has had 97 or more rushing yards in four of the past five meetings with the Rams. St. Louis showed signs of life defending the run against San Francisco's power rushing offense last week, and will need to duplicate that effort against Seattle.

Even better, the Rams could find a way to slow down Lynch like they did in their 2013 meeting in St. Louis when he had just eight carries for 23 yards.

Laurinaitis and Co. were more aggressive against the 49ers, and the Rams willingly sold out to stop the run in that game. Expect more of the same this week, but an even more difficult challenge against a Seattle run game that is looking to get back to basics after last week's loss.

Rams wide receivers vs. Seahawks cornerbacks not named Richard Sherman

The Seahawks are banged up in the secondary, and cornerback Byron Maxwell's status for this week remains unresolved because of a calf injury. Fellow cornerback Tharold Simon could get back in the mix as he works back from a knee surgery. Either way, the Seahawks' pass defense hasn't been what we've come to expect from them in recent seasons. Sherman is still one of the top cornerbacks in the league, but the lack of a consistent pass rush has allowed teams to have success throwing against Seattle.

Through five games, the Seahawks rank 19th in passing yards allowed per game (252.5) and 24th in opponent QBR (70). The Rams have had more success throwing the ball than many thought, though quarterback Austin Davis' QBR has dropped in each of his successive starts. Receiver Brian Quick was kept in check last week by San Francisco and faces a tough task if Sherman lines up opposite him Sunday. But if that's the case, it should create opportunities for players like Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin to do some damage. It's also worth keeping an eye on tight end Jared Cook, who could get some favorable matchups as Seattle shuffles its lineup at linebacker because of injuries.

Rams defensive end William Hayes vs. Seahawks right tackle Justin Britt

When asked this week about rookie tackle Britt, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said he believes Britt will become a superstar one day, noting Britt's work ethic and understanding of the game. Pressed into action pretty much right away, Britt has been a solid performer for Seattle. According to Pro Football Focus, he has allowed one sack and eight quarterback hurries but has offered positive production in the run game.

Hayes has been tasked with being the primary replacement for injured starter Chris Long. After knocking off some rust in the first four weeks, Hayes had his best game of the season last week against San Francisco. He didn't get home for any sacks (like the rest of his teammates) but he managed a quarterback hit, six quarterback hurries and was stout in the run game.

The Rams will take pass-rush production from anyone on their defensive line, and they have had that against Seattle in the past four meetings. Hayes would seem best positioned to finally get the pass rush on track while Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald garner most of the attention from opposing blocking schemes. This should be a physical matchup within a physical game, but could be one that has a major impact on the outcome.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin was limited in practice Friday for the third consecutive day and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Austin, who suffered a sprained knee in the Rams' Week 2 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be a game-time decision according to coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher indicated that Austin will go through pregame warmups and then be evaluated again before a decision is made.

Asked if the team could keep all six of its receivers active against Philadelphia, Fisher said that is a possibility.

There were no changes or surprises elsewhere on the injury report. Offensive lineman Barrett Jones (back) and cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson (knee) and Brandon McGee (foot) did not practice again and have been ruled out for Sunday. Quarterback Shaun Hill (calf) practiced again and is probable.

Here's the complete rundown:

Out: Jones (back), Johnson (knee), McGee (foot)

Questionable: Austin (knee)

Probable: Hill (calf)

Rams injury report stays intact

October, 2, 2014
Oct 2
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams' injury report remained status quo after Thursday evening's practice.

Receiver Tavon Austin, who has been dealing with a knee injury, was limited in practice for the second day in a row but appeared to be moving around well during drills. Austin initially suffered the injury in the team's Week 2 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Here's the full rundown:

Did not participate: CB Trumaine Johnson (knee), CB Brandon McGee (foot), OL Barrett Jones (back)

Limited participation: WR Austin (knee)

Full participation: QB Shaun Hill (calf/thigh)
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams were back on the practice field Wednesday afternoon following their week 4 bye week. And they seem to be making at least a little bit of progress on the injury front.

Headlining Wednesday's injury report is receiver Tavon Austin. Austin missed the Dallas game with a knee injury but participated on a limited basis Wednesday. Coach Jeff Fisher said Austin has not been ruled out for this week and the Rams will continue to monitor his progress.

Elsewhere, quarterback Shaun Hill's thigh is now fully healed and he's listed as a full participant in the practice. He will handle backup duties behind Austin Davis this week.

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson (knee), offensive lineman Barrett Jones (back) and cornerback Brandon McGee (foot) also did not practice. Jones appears to be making the most progress of that trio. He did some work in uniform and helmet on the side during Wednesday's practice and Fisher declared him "close" after the workout.

Here's the rundown for Wednesday:

Did not practice: Johnson (knee), Jones (back), McGee (foot)

Limited participation: Austin (knee)

Full participation: Hill (calf/thigh)

Revisiting Bills-Rams 2013 draft trade

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Last week, we took a look back at the 2012 NFL draft trade between the St. Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys after cornerback Morris Claiborne was benched and left the Dallas facility in a huff.

That situation got no better this week when Claiborne suffered a torn left patellar tendon against New Orleans on Sunday night. But that's not the only draft trade of recent vintage involving the Rams to make news lately.

On Monday afternoon, Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone surprised some by announcing that quarterback EJ Manuel had been benched in favor of veteran Kyle Orton. For those who don't remember, the Bills actually acquired Manuel in the 2013 draft after a trade with the Rams.

Unlike Claiborne or Washington acquiring quarterback Robert Griffin III, this deal was a little different as the Rams were the team moving up. In the deal, the Rams moved up to the No. 8 overall pick with Buffalo moving down to No. 16. The Bills received the Rams' second (No. 46 overall) and seventh-round (No. 222) choices in exchange, and the two sides swapped picks in the third round to get the deal done.

The Rams, of course, used the pick on receiver Tavon Austin and eventually used the additional seven spots in the third round to land safety T.J. McDonald. Buffalo made the move because it coveted Manuel and knew it wouldn't have to spend such a lofty pick to get him. The Bills grabbed Manuel at No. 16, scooped up linebacker Kiko Alonso with the second-round pick, landed receiver Marquise Goodwin with the third-round choice and took tight end Chris Gragg with the seventh-round choice.

It's probably a bit too early to make any sweeping judgments about the trade, but the early returns would indicate that neither side has gotten much out of it. The news of Manuel's benching is a bit of a surprise, but with Marrone potentially coaching for his job under new ownership, the need to win now is elevated. Alonso was clearly the best player in the bunch in his rookie season but is on the reserve/non-football injury list with a torn ACL this season. Goodwin and Gragg haven't done much yet.

Meanwhile, Austin has flashed his vast potential at times but hasn't been consistent and has battled nagging injuries, including a knee ailment that kept him out of the Rams' last game. McDonald looks to be rounding into a solid starter.

The big loss in this deal for the Rams was not having a second-round pick. Based on reports from the time, many signs pointed to the Rams selecting guard Larry Warford had they maintained their second-round choice. Who they would have taken at No. 16 is unknown but Warford has thus far outperformed every player in this trade given the injury to Alonso.

Only time will tell how this trade really plays out for both sides but so far it's awfully hard to declare either side a winner.

Tavon Austin among Rams' inactives

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams receiver/returner Tavon Austin did not practice all week because of a knee injury and was listed as questionable on the team's injury report all week.

The question was answered Sunday morning when the Rams officially declared Austin inactive. Austin will miss his first game of the season and the fourth of his career. He missed the final three games of last season because of an ankle injury.

When Austin entered the league, it was a point of pride that he'd never missed a game because of injury, but so far it's been a different story in the NFL. With the bye set for next week, the Rams expect Austin back for the Week 5 game at Philadelphia.

In the meantime, the Rams will likely turn to Austin Pettis to handle Austin's punt return duties, with Pettis and Stedman Bailey filling in for him in the offense.

The Rams' other inactives are cornerback Trumaine Johnson (knee), cornerback Brandon McGee (foot), center Barrett Jones (back), quarterback Case Keenum, running back Tre Mason and safety Maurice Alexander.

Rams QB Hill questionable for Sunday

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill was limited in practice for the third day in a row and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, coach Jeff Fisher said Friday afternoon.

 Hill has been battling a thigh injury since the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings and made progress this week by doing at least a little work in practice but he will once again be considered a game time decision.

Last week, Fisher called Hill a game time decision and the Rams ultimately kept Hill active but only as a third quarterback for emergency situations. It's possible he could fill a similar role this week.

Austin Davis again took nearly all of the repetitions with the first team in practice and would again get the call to start should Hill not be ready to go.

Elsewhere on the injury report, the Rams remain a little banged up at cornerback. Brandon McGee (foot) and Trumaine Johnson (knee) did not practice Friday. Both have been ruled out for this week. On the bright side, Lamarcus Joyner is back in the mix after missing last week with a back ailment. Joyner practiced all week and did not appear on the injury report.

The Rams also tweaked their practice squad a bit by adding cornerback Jemea Thomas and releasing receiver Justin Veltung.

Receiver Tavon Austin (knee) and tight end Cory Harkey (knee) also did not practice for the third day in a row though both did some work on the side. They'll be questionable for Sunday. If that pair can't play, don't be surprised to see receiver Stedman Bailey and tight end Alex Bayer pick up some of the slack.

Left guard Rodger Saffold returned to practice Friday after missing Thursday with an illness.

Here's Friday's complete injury report:

Out: Johnson (knee), OL Barrett Jones (back), McGee (foot)

Questionable: Hill (thigh/calf), Austin (knee), Harkey (knee)

Probable: Wells (not injury related), Saffold (illness)
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- After an early evening Thursday practice, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher made it clear that a decision on the starting quarterback will again be made before Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.

But the decision could be a little more difficult this week with veteran Shaun Hill making progress toward a return from an injured thigh. Hill remains limited on the official injury report but did more Thursday than he did Wednesday. Austin Davis continued to get the vast majority of the work with the first-team offense.

"Shaun was limited today," Fisher said. "He did more, but we're still day to day. It will most likely be a pre-game decision like it was last week."

The Rams worked Hill out before last week's game against Tampa Bay and decided he could be active as a third quarterback capable of taking shotgun snaps in an emergency. He could follow a similar path this week if the Rams decide to go with Davis on game day.

Elsewhere on Thursday's injury report, the Rams did not have guard Rodger Saffold because of an illness and cornerback Brandon McGee was downgraded from limited participation to did not participate because of a foot injury. Center Scott Wells, who did not practice Wednesday, returned to full participation Thursday.

Here's the full breakdown:

Did not participate: WR Tavon Austin (knee), TE Cory Harkey (knee), CB Trumaine Johnson (knee), OL Barrett Jones (back), Saffold (illness), McGee (foot)

Limited participation: Hill (thigh/calf)

Full participation: Wells (not injury related)

Shaun Hill still limited on Wednesday

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill was elevated to limited from not participating on the team's injury report last Friday, an apparent sign of progress to his injured thigh.

Hill appears to be making more progress but did not make enough to do much more in Wednesday's practice. Hill is again listed as a limited participant on Wednesday's official injury report and though he appears to be getting better -- he did much more than he did Friday -- he still did not do any work in 11-on-11 drills.

With Hill still limited to some individual work, Austin Davis took what coach Jeff Fisher estimated to be about 95 percent of the reps with the first team. Backup Case Keenum got the other five percent.

Fisher said Monday that the hope was to get Hill more work Thursday than Wednesday but reiterated after Wednesday's practice that Hill is still day-to-day and the Rams aren't going to rush him back.

"This is about not setting him back," Fisher said. "We don't want to put him in position out there on the field to where we are risking setting him back."

As for new additions and subtractions from last week, center Scott Wells did not practice with what the Rams termed an issue that is not injury related. He did attend the practice, however, while Tim Barnes got work in his place. As expected, tight end Cory Harkey and receiver Tavon Austin did not practice because of the knee injuries suffered against Tampa Bay.

Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, who did not play against the Bucs because of a back injury, returned to practice and did not appear on the injury report.

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

Did not participate: CB Trumaine Johnson (knee), OL Barrett Jones (back), Harkey (knee), Austin (knee), Wells (not injury related)

Limited participation: Hill (thigh), CB Brandon McGee (foot)
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams made it through Sunday's win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without much in the way of injuries but the two they did have looked like they could potentially do some major damage.

Receiver Tavon Austin and tight end Cory Harkey both suffered knee injuries against the Bucs, but Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Monday night that the news was relatively good on both fronts.

"I guess you could say we got good news," Fisher said. "They've got mild sprains, nothing requiring surgery. And I wouldn't rule either one of them out for this weekend. They're both, as you can imagine, stiff and sore today but it was good news."

Austin actually attempted to return to the game as he warmed up with his teammates after the 51-minute lightning delay. But the Rams opted not to press their luck on the sloppy field and Austin did not re-enter.

Harkey did return to the game after taking a hit that had many, Fisher included, fearing the worst. Late in the third quarter, Harkey caught a pass from quarterback Austin Davis in the left flat but a Tampa Bay safety quickly closed on Harkey and hit him square in the left knee. He limped off the field but successfully lobbied his way back into the game.

As for quarterback Shaun Hill, who has been dealing with a thigh injury and was only available in an emergency against the Bucs, Fisher said he had no setbacks and remains day to day.

"He's still rehabbing," Fisher said. "I don't know how much he'll do Wednesday but he's got a chance to get out there and do some things on Thursday."

Rams depth chart musings

September, 3, 2014
Sep 3
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Now that we are finally into Week 1 of the regular season, the St. Louis Rams released their unofficial depth chart Tuesday evening.

It's always important to note the word unofficial but usually the chart at least provides a solid guidepost for what will come to be Sunday when the Rams open at home against the Minnesota Vikings.

With that in mind, let's take a spin around the depth chart with some random thoughts on things that stick out:
  • As expected, rookie No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson is not listed as a starter on the offensive line. Things have been trending this direction for the past couple of weeks as Robinson didn't get a chance to settle into one spot on the line during the preseason. Davin Joseph is listed as the starter at right guard with Rodger Saffold at left guard. Robinson is listed as the primary backup at left tackle and left guard. Coach Jeff Fisher hasn't expressed any concern with Robinson's development but if indeed he's not a Week 1 starter, that registers as a disappointment.
  • Also as expected, the Rams are listing the quarterback depth as Shaun Hill, Austin Davis and Case Keenum. That's only logical considering Keenum just arrived and Davis has extensive knowledge of the offense. There might come a day when Keenum moves into the No. 2 spot but it won't be for awhile.
  • Zac Stacy is listed as the starting running back, which is to be expected. But Benny Cunningham is No. 2 and outperformed Stacy in the preseason. I still expect Stacy to get the majority of the carries but it's worth watching how those carries are divvied up Sunday.
  • At receiver, the listed starters are Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin. Brian Quick is listed behind Britt but it's safe to expect that duo to be on the field together regularly with Austin in the slot. The Rams also list two starters at tight end with Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks on the top line.
  • On defense, there are no surprises to be found but something we discussed in this week's buzz video is notable. Trumaine Johnson is the listed starter at his usual left cornerback spot but it is indeed E.J. Gaines checking in at No. 2 behind him. That might mean nothing since Brandon McGee is listed as the backup at right cornerback. That will sort itself out throughout the week but it wouldn't be a major surprise if Gaines started in his first NFL game.
  • For what it's worth, Lamarcus Joyner is listed as the third team free safety behind Rodney McLeod and Cody Davis. That really doesn't mean anything, though. Joyner still projects as the team's primary nickel cornerback.
  • On special teams, one job worth watching is kick returner. Chris Givens looked like he was going to claim the job in the preseason but he's actually listed behind Cunningham on the chart. Again, this is unofficial so it's entirely possible Givens will get the first shot against Minnesota. But for now, the list goes Cunningham, Givens, Austin.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In Wednesday's Ram-blings, we discussed linebacker Alec Ogletree and how his success in 2014 could help make or break the St. Louis Rams' season.

Today, we refocus on a different list of players with ESPN Insider Mike Sando's look at 50 potential breakout players. Given the Rams' relative youth, they would seem to have plenty of candidates, and three Rams did indeed make the cut.

Sando's criteria for qualifying as a breakout player: no rookies, no players in the #NFLRank top 100, no older veterans and no players who have already signed big second contracts.

The three Rams that Sando has pegged for possible breakouts include quarterback Sam Bradford, receiver Tavon Austin and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Bradford came in at No. 20, Austin at No. 46 and Jenkins at No. 48 on the list.

Certainly a breakout from any or all of those players would go a long way in taking the Rams to a winning record or even a postseason berth.


A roundup of Wednesday's Rams stories appearing on ... In the Ram-blings, we began with a look at Ogletree's ability to make or break the Rams' season. ... In this week's Buzz video, we examined the pending return of four key Rams. ... Next, we heard from guard Rodger Saffold as he works his way back from a shoulder stinger. ... Forbes released its annual rankings of the most valuable franchises in the NFL with the Rams coming in last. ... The Rams invited some Ferguson-area high schools to Rams Park on Wednesday. ... And we looked at what the day meant to some kids in need of an escape. ... Finally, we wrapped up training camp with a practice report from Wednesday's final open workout.

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Looking for help for your fantasy teams beyond the outstanding work of Matthew Berry and his crew?

Well, NFL Nation offered a little one-stop shopping into deeper skill position battles at each and every training camp Friday afternoon.

Each of our NFL Nation reporters provided a quick take on a battle taking place at one of the skill positions, who is leading said battle and how it could play out over the rest of the preseason and training camp.

Obviously, I handled the St. Louis Rams portion and went with wide receiver. The reality is that the Rams seem pretty well set on starters at most positions, not just the skill spots. But receiver has been in the most flux since the beginning of camp with Kenny Britt and Brian Quick emerging and Chris Givens and Austin Pettis falling.

And, of course, Stedman Bailey figures prominently when he returns from suspension. The Rams continue to say that they'll use all of their wideouts but my expectation for Week 1 at this point is that Britt, Quick and Tavon Austin will get the most opportunities when they kick off against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 7.


A roundup of Friday's Rams stories appearing on ... In the Ram-blings, we opened the day with a look at a "what if" scenario from a suggestion by ESPN's Bill Polian. ... Next, we looked at the imminent return of left tackle Jake Long next week against Cleveland. ... From there, we delved into the return to health of some of the Rams' key components at cornerback. ... Finally, we offered a look at the plan for quarterback Sam Bradford against Green Bay.


ESPN's Jane McManus reports that the NFL is expected to toughen its standards on domestic violence.

Good read as always from columnist Kevin Seifert, who cautions not to worry too much about increased penalties around the league.

At, Jim Thomas examines the health of a number of Rams working back from injury.

Joe Lyons catches up with rookie linebacker Aaron Hill in his weekly diary.

Fox Sports' Alex Marvez takes his turn at discussing the importance of this season for Bradford.

Rams Camp Report: Day 10

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of St. Louis Rams training camp:
  • The pads didn't pop as often or as loud Tuesday evening but the Rams continue to ratchet up the physicality as they prepare for the season opener. Once again, the run game took precedence and got plenty of work. Coach Jeff Fisher indicated after practice that he wants each of his running backs to get about six carries in the preseason opener and deployed them in a similar fashion Tuesday night. Even rookie Tre Mason got some reps with the first-team offense and had a couple of impressive runs, including one where he burst through the hole, bounced off a would be tackler, and darted left into the end zone for a would-be touchdown. It was one of his better practices. Running back Zac Stacy departed practice early. The injury didn't appear serious, but we'll see more when Friday night arrives. Receiver Austin Franklin also limped off during the workout.
  • Receiver Brian Quick returned to the practice field after sitting the past couple of practices. He made his presence felt early with a nice diving catch along the sideline from quarterback Sam Bradford. The rest of the injury list remains the same as Monday with key players such as linebacker James Laurinaitis, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and guard Rodger Saffold among those sitting it out.
  • Speaking of sitting it out, Fisher said after practice that Bradford, left tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells will be held out of Friday's game. He used the term highly unlikely when describing Bradford but that lines up with what he's intimated since the beginning of camp, so it's probably safe to assume Bradford won't play. For what it's worth, word out of Saints camp is that quarterback Drew Brees also won't participate.
  • Elsewhere on the practice field, receiver Kenny Britt landed awkwardly in individual drills but didn't miss much and came back to haul in another deep ball from Bradford for a big gain later in practice. ... Defensive lineman Alex Carrington provided a scary moment when he pulled up just as he got close to Bradford in a team drill. The two made contact, but no damage was done. ... It was one of receiver Tavon Austin's best practices as he came up with some big plays, highlighted by an over-the-shoulder gem on a perfect throw from Bradford in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown. He later beat cornerback E.J. Gaines and safety T.J. McDonald on a deep ball down the right sideline. ... It's been two practices in a row in which receiver T.J. Moe came up with a big play or two. He'll need a big preseason performance to stake a claim to a spot, but he's picking a good time to make some noise.
  • The Rams are back at it with a special teams practice set for Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. ET at Rams Park. That practice is closed to the public.
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.