It happens every year. Whether it's a player who was mostly inactive and had a "redshirt" rookie season, or someone with more experience who took advantage of injuries at their position to prove themselves, these breakout stories are an integral part of the fabric of an NFL season.
Below, theRams.com takes a look at three players who could potentially have bigger roles for Los Angeles this upcoming season. Note: choices and analysis reflect the author's alone and do not represent the views of the Rams coaching staff.
1) WR Josh Reynolds
Rams head coach Sean McVay in the spring indicated Reynolds would be in line for a bigger role this season after Brandin Cooks was traded to the Houston Texans. Accordingly, Reynolds is one of theRams.com's picks.
The former Texas A&M standout has proven to be a reliable target for quarterback Jared Goff, hauling in 61 receptions for 832 yards and seven touchdowns through his first three seasons. His best season statistically came when it replaced an injured Cooper Kupp in 2018 and posted 29 catches for 402 yards and five touchdowns.
And, for evidence Reynolds is capable of filling Cooks' role, McVay pointed to Reynolds beating Bears All-Pro and Pro Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller downfield for a 51-yard touchdown catch in Week 11 last season. Though the play was nullified by a penalty, it proved McVay's point.
2) CB Darious Williams
Bleacher Report named Williams the Rams' biggest sleeper heading into training camp, though defensive coordinator Brandon Staley was aware of his potential well before then.
"Darius Williams is a guy that played really good football here for this group in the last couple games," Staley said in May during the team's virtual offseason program. "I think this guy can cover, he's got a really good skillset for corner, can run, he can change direction, he can play the ball in the deep part of the field. He's got a good body."
Williams emerged late last season filling in for an injured Troy Hill in Week 15. When Hill went down with a thumb injury against the Cowboys that week, Williams went on to play a season-high 60 snaps and make a career-best five tackles. He also would've added an interception if not for a nullifying penalty.
With Nickell Robey-Coleman gone, Williams will have a chance to compete for the third spot in the cornerback rotation.
3) LB Micah Kiser
Based on former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' comments last summer, Kiser seemed to be on the cusp of a breakout last year. He was slated to start alongside Cory Littleton at the other inside linebacker position, per the team's unofficial depth chart, before a preseason pectoral injury against the Cowboys cost him the entirety of his second NFL season.
However, Staley still thinks highly of Kiser.
"I know that we have high regard for Micah Kiser within our building," Staley said. "He had that unfortunate injury in the preseason last year."
Healthy since February, Kiser has another chance to realize that potential this season following Littleton's departure. With Littleton gone, Staley said in May that he views inside linebacker as "an open competition."