By: Joe Branham, Published August 3, 2015 8:54 PM EST
As we all know by now, the St. Louis Rams have officially begun training camp for the 2015 NFL season. The current roster sits at 90 players. That will soon have to be dwindled down to 53. With 37 players to be cut before the Rams kickoff against the Seattle Seahawks, I’ll give you a few things to keep an eye on and some position battles to watch.
On the offensive side of the ball, all eyes are on the offensive line. Left tackle will be manned by Greg Robinson with Roger Saffold to his right at left guard. The other three positions are a little more up in the air although right guard and right tackle look to be favored by Jamon Brown and Rob Havenstein respectively. At center, there is currently a three-way battle taking place between Barrett Jones, Tim Barnes, and Demetrius Rhaney. Both Jones and Barnes appear to be in the lead ahead of Rhaney, but Rhaney regularly appears taking snaps with the first team offense.
With this battle, it’ll be important to keep an eye on the snap exchange between each center and the quarterback. Most importantly with Nick Foles. Foles does not have any previous experience with any of the Rams offensive linemen. If any of the snaps end up on the ground, it’ll be a huge hit to that players chances of being names the starter.
On the defensive side of the ball, there will be a battle for the starting strong side line backer. Jo-Lonn Dunbar has held the position for the last few years, but new comer Akeem Ayers expects to challenge him for his starting role. Ayers comes to St. Louis and becomes the only current player with a Super Bowl ring. He achieved his in the 2014 season with the New England Patriots. Along with the ring comes a winning mentality and a knowledge of what it takes to win games in this extremely competitive league. Jo-Lonn has more experience in the Gregg Williams defensive scheme, but Ayers has some experience of his own from his time in Tennessee when Gregg Williams served as the defensive assistant.
Both players are deserving of the role which should make this battle an exciting one to watch. Players in competition typically need preseason games to show the coaching staff what they’re made of, so look for both Dunbar and Ayers to be making plenty of plays in the preseason.
The St. Louis Rams appeared to have found their quarterback in Nick Foles. The question surrounding the quarterback position is ‘who will his backup be?’
Case Keenum and Austin Davis both have starting experience in the NFL and have won games. Both of these players are prime candidates for the role, but 3rd round draft pick Sean Mannion will look to make his case as well. All three should be seen with the second team offense at least once in a game situation. It is not likely that the Rams will carry four quarterbacks on the active roster, so one or maybe two could be delegated to the practice squad.
What to Watch:
Nick Foles has made it clear that relationships between players is as important to him as skill set. Foles is very adamant about having the Family (Ramily) feel to the huddle and the sidelines. The Rams wide receivers have taken to his approach and it should be seen on the field. Look for these relationships to grow in the preseason. Foles’ demeanor and how the receivers respond to it will have a huge impact on what the Rams offense will be able to accomplish in 2015.
Defensive rotations have become a huge part of the game plan in St. Louis. Keep an eye out for any player on the field in the 3rd or 4th quarter who shows a higher motor than the rest. Any player who is able to turn heads in the late quarters of a preseason game typically will be favored come cuts.
It’s no secret that the St. Louis Rams have one of the deeper back fields in the NFL. Todd Gurley, Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham, Trey Watts and Chase Reynolds, the Rams have some decisions to make when it comes to who will make the roster and who will be either released and free to search for a new home or join the practice squad.
Nick Foles is also expected to be the starter with no real competition to take that role away from him, but the backup position is also up in the air. Will the number two quarterback be Case Keenum, Austin David or Sean Mannion.
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