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Countdown to Camp: Safeties

Posted Jul 26, 2015

In this edition of Countdown to Camp, team insider Myles Simmons takes a look at the enforcers 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, defensive line, either in the comments or @MylesASimmons on Twitter.

SAFETIES

Newcomers: Jacob Hagen, Jay Hughes

With a bevy of talent in the defensive backfield, safety looks to be a strong position for St. Louis heading into the 2015 season.

Strong safety T.J. McDonald has made steady progress throughout his first two pro seasons. Known for his hard-hitting style, last year McDonald led the secondary with 136 tackles and made an impact on special teams by recording both a blocked punt and blocked field goal against Tampa Bay.

While he came in as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Rodney McLeod has become a consistent presence in St. Louis’ secondary, having started 32 consecutive games. He recorded 96 tackles, six passes defensed, and two forced fumbles in 2014.

The Buccaneers traded Mark Barron to the Rams at last year’s trading deadline, but the safety made his presence felt in the season’s remaining weeks. He finished 2014 with 3.0 sacks, which tied for the league lead among defensive backs. And now that he’s had a full offseason with the Rams, he’s poised to make an even bigger impact this year.

A St. Louis native, Maurice Alexander mostly played special teams in 2014 and returns for his second season. One of the Rams’ special teams aces, Cody Davis returns for his third pro season. He’s registered 16 special teams tackles in his first two years in the league.

And after spending last season on the Rams’ practice squad, Christian Bryant will be striving to make the 53-man roster.

Finally, St. Louis also added Jacob Hagen and Jay Hughes as undrafted free agents. Both rookies will likely need to contribute on special teams to earn a spot on the final roster.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

In each of our Countdown to Camp posts, we’ll feature one of your Twitter questions on the position group. Today’s Q comes from @sambo_slice8.

As you all likely know, one of the most interesting aspects about the Rams’ secondary is its amount of depth. Alexander was a significant special teams contributor last year, recording seven tackles with the unit. But defensive coordinator Gregg Williams mentioned during OTAs that the second-year safety out of Utah State made significant progress in the offseason, and will likely push for some defensive playing time.

What I’d interpret that to mean is that Alexander will continue to give the Rams options and insurance in the case of injury. Both McDonald and McLeod excelled last year in their respective roles, especially in the season’s second half. And in Barron’s case, as mentioned in the linebacker’s post, I think he’ll likely see more playing time simply because he has the talent to impact the game either defending the run, rushing the passer, or covering receivers.

But when it comes to Alexander, as Williams also said in OTAs, the defense has a lot of personnel packages that it can deploy depending on matchups. If Alexander gives St. Louis the best chance to be successful in any given week, I’m sure Williams will find a way to utilize him.

Thanks for the question, Sam. Fans, be sure to leave your question about the Rams’ defensive linemen 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 25 - TIGHT ENDS
JULY 24 - CORNERBACKS
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.