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Countdown to Camp: Cornerbacks

Posted Jul 24, 2015

In this edition of Countdown to Camp, team insider Myles Simmons takes a look at one half of the Rams' secondary.

In today’s edition of Countdown to Camp, team insider Myles Simmons takes a look at the Rams’ cornerbacks. Be sure to send in your question about tomorrow’s subject, tight ends, either in the comments or @MylesASimmons on Twitter.

CORNERBACKS

Newcomers: Imoan Claiborne, Montell Garner

While the Rams corners had their share of injuries in 2014, the situation gave some younger players an opportunity to flourish.

One such player was E.J. Gaines. As a sixth-round pick out of Mizzou, Gaines started the Rams’ first 15 contests -- the only rookie corner to do so for any NFL team last year. He excelled playing both outside and inside at nickel corner, finishing the year with a team-high 14 passes defensed.

Janoris Jenkins missed a couple of games due to injury in 2014, but still made some electrifying plays, including a 99-yard pick six of Philip Rivers in San Diego. Heading into his fourth NFL season, Jenkins has recorded six defensive touchdowns in his career -- the most of any player since he entered the league in 2012.

Though a knee injury suffered against Cleveland in the third preseason game kept him sidelined for the first eight weeks of the season, Trumaine Johnson came back to make three interceptions in 2014.

Listed as a “defensive back” on the roster, Lamarcus Joyner lands with the CBs because he often played in the nickel corner spot in his rookie season. The second-round pick out of Florida State appeared in 10 games last year, recording a sack, three passes defensed, and 48 tackles. With the Rams running multiple defensive packages, he should have his share of opportunities in Year 2.

Also going into his second season, cornerback Marcus Roberson was pushed into extended action for a pair of games last year due to numerous secondary injuries. Even as an undrafted rookie out of Florida, Roberson held his own by recording 12 tackles and an interception in 2014.

A fifth-round pick in 2013, Brandon McGee played a bit on defense and special teams in last season’s first two games, but was placed in injured reserve with a foot injury in October.

Finally, St. Louis added Imoan Claiborne and Montell Garner as undrafted free agents in May following the draft.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

In each of our Countdown to Camp posts, we’ll feature one of your questions on the position group. Today’s Q comes from @bxgrisak1993.

That’s an interesting question, and I realize what’s follows may not be the most satisfactory answer. But when it comes to the defense in general, the depth chart may not be as important as it sounds. The Rams had plenty of success out of their 2014 draft class, but considering where he was selected and the performance the team received from him, there’s an argument to be made that Gaines was the team's best pick. And that’s even considering the fact that defensive tackle Aaron Donald was named Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Gaines’ versatility is what helps him be so effective. He can line up against vertical-threat wide receivers on the outside, and also has the ability to match up with slot receivers on the inside. With the number of personnel packages defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can use this season, I’d say Gaines has a good chance to play both inside and out to take advantage of his skills. And so where and how much he plays may be a little more telling than just Gaines’ position on the Rams’ depth chart.

Thanks for the question, Blaine. Fans, be sure to leave your question about the Rams’ TEs in the comments below, or send it over to @MylesASimmons on Twitter and it could be featured right here in tomorrow’s Countdown to Camp.

COUNTDOWN TO CAMP - PREVIOUS POSTS

JULY 23 - WIDE RECEIVERS
JULY 22 - LINEBACKERS
JULY 21 - SPECIAL TEAMS

The Rams will begin training camp with a 3:30 p.m. practice at Rams Park on Friday, July 31. For more information, visit our official training camp page.