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Analysis: Rams Release First Unofficial Depth Chart of Regular Season

Check out photos of the first official 53-man roster players

With the season opener against Indianapolis just days away, Los Angeles has released its first unofficial depth chart of the regular season, and there are a few notable aspects. Here are three quick tidbits.

1) Watkins listed as a starter

Though he's been with the team for only a few weeks, wide receiver Sammy Watkins is listed as one of the Rams' three starting wide receivers. Previously, the Rams' three starters were listed as Robert Woods, Tavon Austin, and Cooper Kupp.

Watkins said on Monday that he spent a lot of late nights studying the playbook during training camp in order to get comfortable as quickly as possible.

'"You stay up [until] 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock, especially during camp. When I was in camp, I was trying to catch up and just be on the right page," Watkins said. "They were throwing stuff at me. The first day, I was like, 'OK, now they're just trying to see how much I'm studying.' So I had to over-study and just be on point."


2) Smart listed as a starter**

Rookie defensive tackle Tanzel Smart is listed as the first-team defensive tackle, ahead of Quinton Jefferson, who Los Angeles recently claimed off waivers.

With Aaron Donald absent as his representation and the club continue to negotiate a contract extension, head coach Sean McVay has been complimentary of Smart's development under defensive line coach Bill Johnson. McVay's named Smart as one of the players who has received more reps that he would have otherwise.

"I think we've seen some really good things from a Tanzel Smart, that you see him play at the three technique, you see him play at the nose," McVay said in late August.

Whether he's the first man out with the defensive line or not, Smart projects as a significant rotation player on the unit.

3) Many new starters

The Rams have had significant year-to-year turnover, which is expected with a new coaching staff.

On offense, the Rams are projecting seven different opening day starters — quarterback Jared Goff, left tackle Andrew Whitworth, center John Sullivan, right guard Jamon Brown, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, wide receiver Robert Woods, and tight end Tyler Higbee. And that's saying nothing of projected significant contributors like tight end Gerald Everett and wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

The numbers aren't quite as high on defense, where there are four new projected starters: outside linebacker Connor Barwin, cornerback Kayvon Webster, defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks, and Smart.

That said, a few players are in different positions. Robert Quinn has shifted from defensive end to outside linebacker in coordinator Wade Phillips' scheme. Lamarcus Joyner has gone from slot corner to free safety — although it seems he may still appear at slot corner from time to time. And Maurice Alexander has gone from a free safety last year to a strong safety in 2017.

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