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Countdown to Camp 2016 - Cornerbacks

Posted Jul 23, 2016

In the fourth installment of Countdown to Camp, team insider Myles Simmons breaks down Trumaine Johnson and the Rams' cornerbacks.

We’re now seven days away from the Rams kicking off training camp at UC Irvine, and in today’s edition of Countdown to Camp, we’re looking at the team’s cornerbacks. Be sure to submit your question about tomorrow’s position group, tight ends, either on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below.

CORNERBACKS

Newcomers: Coty Sensabaugh, Mike Jordan, Jabriel Washington

The Rams’ secondary will look a bit different in 2016, as both Janoris Jenkins and Rodney McLeod departed to the NFC East via free agency. But Los Angeles’ cornerbacks still have the potential to be a significant team strength for the coming season.

L.A. used its franchise tag on Trumaine Johnson prior to the start of free agency, ensuring he would remain with the team for at least another year. While Johnson and the club did not come to terms on a long-term deal before the July deadline, the corner is still primed to have another strong season. Only two players had more interceptions than Johnson last year, as he racked up seven. At one point, he had streak of four consecutive games with a pick.

Opposite him will likely be one of newcomer Coty Sensabaugh or E.J. Gaines. Sensabaugh arrives as a free agent from the Titans, having signed a three-year contract with L.A. in March. He started 15 games for Tennessee last year, recording two interceptions — one of which he returned for a touchdown. He has familiarity with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ system, as the coach spent 2013 as the Titans’ senior defensive assistant.

A season-ending foot injury suffered the first weekend of training camp kept Gaines off the field for his sophomore campaign. As a rookie, Gaines started 15 games and led the team in passes defensed. With a strong camp, he has a good chance to reclaim that starting role.

But Marcus Roberson could also be in the mix on the outside. The corner is heading into his third season and has done well as a depth piece for the Rams over the last two years. He’s made six starts over the last two years, filling in when called upon. He recorded five passes defensed in 2015.

Williams raved about slot corner Lamarcus Joyner during OTAs, anticipating he’ll have a good amount of success when in press coverage. Joyner has excelled as the Rams’ nickel corner over his first two years in the league. With more and more teams employing three wide receiver sets as their base offense, Joyner’s skill set is that much more important. He’ll likely start at least a few games this year based on opposing personnel.

Also at corner, Los Angeles has Troy Hill, who went to high school in Ventura County. The club picked him up off waivers with only a few days remaining in the 2015 season. Mike Jordan (Missouri Western) and Jabriel Washington (Alabama) are on the roster as undrafted free agents. All three players will have to contribute on special teams to make the initial 53-man roster.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Fair question to ask, but at this point it’s a little tough to say for a few reasons.

Sensabaugh did get most of his reps with the first-team defense back in OTAs, which might mean that you could give him an edge. But at the same time, that happened because the team was bringing Gaines along slowly, given he hadn’t been on the field in nearly a year.

If Gaines is healthy and playing at or better than the level he did as a rookie, I’d more likely give the edge to him. He’s got the familiarity of playing in Williams’ system and also the benefit of having established chemistry with his teammates.

That said, Sensabaugh also has experience in Williams’ system from their shared time in Tennessee. And since he’s been working with the starters, he’s been building the needed sense of trust.

That’s why it’s kind of tough to say for sure one way or the other. I do think this will be one of the better training camp battles that could make both players better in the long run.

Thanks for your question, Ryan. If you’ve got a question about tomorrow’s position group, tight ends, you can send it via Twitter, Facebook, or leave it in the comments below.

PREVIOUSLY ON COUNTDOWN TO CAMP

July 20 - Special Teams
July 21 - Linebackers
July 22 - Wide Receivers