Throughout the preseason, Rams head coach Sean McVay said the depth and competition across multiple positions was a positive problem to have. It should be those players’ jobs, according to McVay, to make those conversations as difficult as possible.
Some of those deliberations have already taken place, as the Rams announced their first round of roster reductions toward the initial 53-man roster Friday afternoon.
“A lot of tough decisions that we have to make for our football team, whether it’s deciding on our 53, (then) of those 53, the 46 that will be up for gameday, and then figuring out the practice squad,” McVay said after L.A.’s 22-10 preseason finale win at Houston Thursday night. “But it’s a credit to those guys for making our decisions tough in the next couple of days.”
The first trim brings the Rams’ current roster down to 72 active players, but additional difficult choices loom ahead of tomorrow afternoon. A good portion of the remaining remaining evaluations will focus on the defensive side of the ball.
Cornerback, inside linebacker, defensive line and offensive line were all positions McVay and his staff sought additional clarity in the fourth preseason game. Friday’s cuts preliminarily addressed both sides of the line of scrimmage and inside linebacker, but cornerback looks like it will need more time.
At cornerback, rookie David Long Jr., third-year veterans Kevin Peterson, Dont'e Deayon and Dominique Hatfield and second-year DB Darious Williams are competing to be cornerback nos. 5 and 6 on the roster should the Rams choose to carry that many. The dilemma, or main reason why they can't keep all of them, stems from Los Angeles returning four of the five CBs who were on last year’s initial 53-man roster.
The Rams will likely want to get deeper at inside linebacker, particularly at the MIKE spot alongside Cory Littleton. Micah Kiser was slated to start there based on the team’s unofficial depth chart prior to suffering a left pectoral injury earlier this month that sidelined him indefinitely. Dakota Allen and Troy Reeder are potential candidates to back up new projected MIKE starter Bryce Hager.
While not a position specifically on McVay’s radar heading into Thursday’s game at Houston, the depth at safety also makes it that will be part of the tough conversations.
“I know that we’ve got a lot of really capable football players, and there’s going to be some guys that unfortunately we’re going to have to let go that I think are NFL-caliber players,” McVay said.
The Rams take on the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in the final preseason game of 2019.
Rams coaches will have until 1 p.m. PDT Saturday to evaluate which players additional have done enough to carve out roles on the initial 53-man roster.
Four preseason games have given them plenty to look at. The players have done their job, now comes the hard part for McVay.
“That’s what you want this time of the year, even though it’s not the most fun thing to do,” McVay said.