Check out photos of the first official 53-man roster players
To get their roster down from 90 to 53 players, the Rams had a lot of decisions to make. From waiving rookies to releasing veterans, it's not easy to let go of so many men who made various contributions to the team over the last few months.
But after a difficult process, the Rams have an initial 53-man roster. And it's initial because there will surely be moves made over the course of the next few weeks and months as Los Angeles does its best to field the best possible team.
"I felt really good about just the way that we were able to come to decisions on our entire team, both with our offensive and defensive staffs, with [general manager] Les [Snead] and his staff," head coach Sean McVay said Saturday afternoon. "I feel like the communication on all levels has been very good where we've kind of all been on the same page. Certainly the decisions weren't easy, but I feel like because you have some many people that are good at what they do, are able to give their insight with their previous experience, it makes it as seamless as possible."
One of those tougher conversations came with tight end Cory Harkey, who was released on Saturday. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 2012, Harkey had been with the franchise ever since.
"It certainly wasn't an easy discussion, but I wish nothing but the best for Cory," McVay said. "And can't say enough things about what he represents in terms of the toughness, the leadership, the character, all those good things that you want your players to embody, that's what Cory Harkey is and that's what he stands for."
One factor in Harkey being cut was Los Angeles' trade for Washington tight end Derek Carrier. McVay said Carrier brings some flexibility to the position, familiarity with the playbook, and an ability to contribute on special teams.
"He can do a lot of things that will complement that group," McVay said. "When you lose a Temarrick Hemingway, who was going to be a big part of what we wanted to do, [Carrier] was a guy that we had potentially targeted knowing the depth that the Redskins had at that position. We feel fortunate to be able to acquire Derek. He is going to be a big help to us."
Wide receiver Nelson Spruce is another player who could not crack the roster, and his health was a factor. Spruce played against Dallas to open the preseason, but wasn't able to get back on the field for much more. He was waived with an injury designation on Saturday.
"It's one of those situations when you talk to Nelson today, you say it's unfortunate because he's a good football player, he's got great instincts, good, aggressive hands," McVay said. "Unfortunately, the injuries really kept him out of chances to really compete for a roster spot and it's unfortunate. We're hopeful that Nelson will get a spot and get a chance to compete somewhere else."
Elsewhere on the roster, the Rams will enter the year with only two quarterbacks — Jared Goff and Sean Mannion. But McVay said Dan Orlovsky could be back on the roster before too long.
"The value that Dan had for those guys especially being aware of how young Jared and Sean both are, I thought Dan was a great example of kind of providing a mentorship role for them. Being around some great players and then him having the experience that he's had," McVay said. "Dan's definitely a possible guy that we'll bring back on this roster, so by no means does that mean that we couldn't see him Week 2."
There was good news for a few players — like undrafted free agents Justin Davis, John Mundt, and Dominique Hatfield. Davis, a running back out of USC, impressed McVay with his growth and improvement over the course of the preseason.
"Obviously, when the ball's in his hands and he puts his foot in the ground and decides to get vertical — you see an explosion and I think he's a nice change-of-pace back," McVay said. "[I]f you're looking for that change-of-pace back, very similar to the reason that we liked [RB] Lance Dunbar so much — that's kind of what Justin has provided."
"I think he's a guy that we're really looking forward to developing," McVay added of Mundt. "I don't necessarily know how things will shape out, but when you do go get a Derek Carrier, then it allows you to feel comfortable with that fourth tight end … where you're going to be patient with a guy and allow him to develop, knowing that he had the ankle injury in the rookie minicamp – so he's missed some time. But when he's gotten out there and when you look at what he was able to do at Oregon, he's got some ability."
For McVay, going through roster reductions as a head coach for the first time seemed to have its moments. But overall, he seemed satisfied with the process as the club gets ready to take on the Colts next Sunday.
"I think certainly being in this role for the first time where you're kind of the first one delivering that information, it definitely has a different feeling to it," McVay said. "But, as long as you deal with these guys openly and honestly and when you're dealing with good people like we were fortunate enough to do – an unfortunate and a tough day went as well as it could of I guess is the best way to put it."