Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These 49ers, Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks moves are noted below.
It appears that fourth-round rookie draft pick Stetson Bennett won out in the battle for the backup quarterback job, leading to the expendability of Rypien and Winn. Youth similarly won out at the running back spot as rookie Zach Evans and second year backs Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers beat out the veteran backup in Freeman. On defense, Copeland is bit of a surprise after starting nine games last year for the Rams.
The special teams room is quite intriguing for now. The room was looking to hold three rookies before the above waiver of the undrafted Oklahoma State kicker Brown. Seventh-round rookie punter Ethan Evans and undrafted rookie long snapper Alex Ward remain on the roster, but without Brown, the Rams will need to look into adding a new kicker out of the free agent market. Or they may attempt to follow the recent trends and trade for one.
Rumored ahead of training camp to be holding four position battles along their offensive line, the Rams have made one notable change up front and are considering another. Their top 2022 draft choice is now at a new position, while the left tackle they re-signed for more than $13MM per year is not a lock to be Matthew Stafford‘s blindside protector to begin this season.
Logan Bruss is moving back to his college position of right tackle, per Sean McVay, who indicated this switch — which The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue notes (via Twitter) came about because of injury issues at the spot — will likely be for good. Bruss, who was transitioning to guard before ACL and MCL tears nixed his rookie year, is set to back up Rob Havenstein at right tackle — the Rams’ lone solidified starting O-line post coming into camp. The Rams chose Bruss in the 2022 third round.
While Bruss (25 right tackle starts at Wisconsin) is moving to a backup role, the Rams are also considering the prospect of Joe Noteboom not opening the season at left tackle. Introduced earlier this offseason, the notion of Noteboom at guard is now firmly in play, per McVay.
“We want to find the best five,” McVay said. “But I think every one of those positions is incredibly valuable and really whatever we deem is the best fit for the five players at the two tackles, two guard spots and center. But I think Joe is a guy that can start at guard or tackle and he’s played at a high level so players like him are very rare that have the ability to do that. … Whether or not he ends up doing that or playing tackle, we’re still kind of working through that.”
Returning from an October 2022 Achilles tear, Noteboom is attached to a three-year deal worth $40MM. The Rams paid up to keep Noteboom in the wake Andrew Whitworth‘s retirement. Whitworth’s fill-in at that high-profile blocking post to close his career, Noteboom attracted a free agent market that led to the $13.3MM-per-year accord. The Rams used a few left tackles following Noteboom’s injury — one of many maladies to affect Los Angeles’ O-line during a disastrous Super Bowl title defense — and one of those options (Alaric Jackson) is pushing the incumbent for the job.
Using the increasingly popular “or” distinction to denote a position battle, the Rams’ depth chart lists Jackson as a co-left tackle starter. A 2021 UDFA, Jackson made six starts for the team last season. But a blood clot issue ended the Iowa alum’s season.
Jackson joined Tristan Wirfs as Iowa’s starting tackles in 2018 and ’19. The lower-regarded prospect started as the Hawkeyes’ left tackle from 2018-20, earning first-team All-Big Ten acclaim in 2020. This did not lead to a high profile coming into the 2021 draft, but the Rams have seen enough from the 25-year-old blocker to give him a legitimate shot at unseating Noteboom.
A “best five” scenario may well involve Noteboom shifting to right guard, where the depth chart lists Tremayne Anchrum — a 2020 seventh-rounder who started one game for the team last season — as the present first-stringer. With second-round pick Steve Avila set to start at the Rams’ other guard spot, Noteboom — who previously played guard before settling into the role as Whitworth’s apprentice — could return to an inside spot to accommodate Jackson. Anchrum joins Noteboom, Bruss and Jackson in coming off a season-ending injury — a fractured fibula.
With Jordan Fuller finally making a healthy return after missing most of the 2022 season on injured reserve, the Rams should be set at one of their safety spots. Fuller had started all 28 games he’d appeared in over his first two years, and he’s stood out so far this offseason in OTAs and minicamp. The battle for who will start next to Fuller, though, has become a situation to watch in Los Angeles, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic.
There appears to be two second-year players at the forefront of the race: last year’s sixth-round pick Quentin Lake and seventh-round pick Russ Yeast. Lake got a late start to his rookie year after starting the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. Once activated, he played almost exclusively on special teams until the team’s season finale in Seattle. Yeast also started off mainly on special teams before earning a good number of defensive snaps late in the year. He made his first career start in that same Seattle game.
Lake and Yeast will both get significant run with the first team in an effort to determine a starter. A dark horse in the competition could be rookie seventh-round pick Jason Taylor II. The Oklahoma State product had an impressive 99 tackles last season to go along with six interceptions for the Cowboys. While each player should get a strong chance, it’s believed that Yeast has the early edge.
Here are a couple other rumors coming out of LA:
An expected camp kicking battle was cut short when Christopher Dunnwas waived a couple weeks ago. The Rams currently only roster undrafted rookie Tanner Brown at the position. Also coming out of Stillwater, Brown never missed a single extra point during his collegiate career. In his senior year, Brown converted an impressive 22 of 23 field goal attempts. Despite the lofty college numbers, entering the season with Brown as the only option is a risky move. Rodrigue doesn’t rule out the possibility of Los Angeles bringing in some camp competition for the young specialist.
The Rams’ top draft selection this year, second-round guard Steve Avila, is reportedly “as pro-ready a rookie as (Rodrigue has) seen walk into the (Rams’) building.” If the TCU-product secures a starting guard spot, as expected, the other guard spot could be won in competition between Tremayne Anchrum and Logan Bruss. Both Anchrum and Bruss were limited last season due to injury and are reportedly itching to prove their worth in 2023. Bruss has even gotten snaps at his old college position of right tackle, making him a strong candidate for a Swiss Army role on the offensive line if he can’t win a starting job. Rodrigue warns not to forget about rookie fifth-round pick Warren McClendon out of Georgia, as well. Although a knee injury forced him to miss time this spring, McClendon’s expected to make some noise in camp this summer.
Although Rams-related discussions have generally veered toward what the team has lost this offseason, its offensive line figures to be better positioned compared to a disastrous 2022 campaign. The player whose injury began a steady deterioration for the unit is nearing a full return to work.
Logan Bruss, saw ACL and MCL tears wipe out his rookie season, has received the green light for full participation at Rams OTAs, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Bruss, the Rams’ top 2022 draftee, participated fully during the team’s first OTA session before being limited during the ensuing workout. While we are still more than two months away from padded practices, this certainly represents a positive step for Bruss and Los Angeles’ O-line.
Chosen late in the third round last year, Bruss was set to compete for an L.A. starting guard gig. Coleman Shelton ended up winning the job, with Bruss sustaining the knee injuries during the Rams’ second preseason game. The injury occurred nine months ago, and the Rams not holding Bruss out of OTAs represents a reasonable indication he will avoid the active/PUP list when training camp starts.
Bruss’ injuries preceded a brutal year for the Rams’ O-line, and those dominoes falling played a lead role in the team completing the worst Super Bowl title defense in NFL history. After Bruss went down, the Rams lost Shelton, Brian Allen, Joe Noteboom, David Edwards, Alaric Jackson and Tremayne Anchrum to injuries. All missed at least four games, with Noteboom, Edwards and Jackson suffering season-ending maladies. In-season free agency additions became starters during a season in which Matthew Stafford eventually went down.
The Rams let Edwards walk in free agency, a year after the team passed on re-signing fellow Super Bowl LVI guard starter Austin Corbett, and the Bills will give the three-year starter a bounce-back opportunity. L.A. again used its top draft choice on a guard, selecting TCU’s Steve Avila in Round 2. Avila figures to be ticketed to start in Week 1, but Bruss may soon be the favorite to be L.A.’s other guard starter. He had been attempting to transition from college right tackle to NFL guard. His early participation points to no further delays in that effort.
Jacob Harris getting cut came as a bit of a surprise after the 2021 fourth-round pick got into nine games as a rookie. However, he rarely got a look on offense in 2021, and despite the Rams only rostering two tight ends at the end of the day (Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins), Harris was let go. Chris Garrett was also a 2021 draft pick, being selected by the Rams in the seventh round. He only got into one game as a rook.
AJ Arcuri was a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft, but the rookie didn’t show enough to crack the 53-man roster. There’s a good chance the Michigan State product lands back on the Rams practice squad.
The first of this year’s Rams draft picks will not make his NFL debut until at least 2023. GuardLogan Bruss will miss this season after suffering right ACL and MCL tears during the Rams’ preseason game Friday night, Sean McVay said.
Chosen 104th overall, Bruss was expected to be at least a key backup for the Rams in 2022. The Wisconsin alum had been competing for the Rams’ starting right guard position during his first NFL offseason.
Bruss was attempting to transition from college tackle to NFL guard. The Badgers used him as their primary right tackle from 2019-21, playing him only sparingly at guard. This injury will obviously hinder Bruss’ development. He finished his Big Ten career as a second-team all-conference performer in 2021.
The team’s other guard starter, David Edwards, is going into a contract year. That undoubtedly impacted the Rams’ decision to make Bruss their top 2022 draftee. Annually lacking a first-round pick — this time due to last year’s Matthew Stafford trade, which cost the Rams two firsts — the team was without its second- and third-round picks because of the Von Miller deadline swap. Bruss came to Los Angeles as a compensatory selection.
Cam Akers was clearly limited when he returned from a full Achilles tear to join the Rams for their Super Bowl run. Following a rookie campaign where he collected 748 yards from scrimmage on 156 touches (4.8 yards per touch), Akers was limited to 248 yards from scrimmage on 75 postseason touches (3.3 yards per touch). Fortunately, the running back told Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic that he’s 100 percent healthy heading into training camp, and he’s focused on maintaining his health throughout the upcoming season.
“(I’m) focusing on building my armor up as strong as it can be, but really locking in on the mental side, as well,” Akers said during spring practices.
New Rams running backs coach Ra’Shaad Samples might not necessarily have the luxury of easing Akers back into action. As Rodrigue writes, fellow RB Darrell Henderson is recovering from his own surgery and has missed games in each of his three NFL seasons. Plus, rookie fifth-round RB Kyren Williams suffered a foot injury during OTAs that required surgery and could miss a chunk of training camp. Otherwise, the team will be relying on inexperienced options like Jake Funk, Raymond Calais, and Xavier Jones.
Elsewhere on offense, we may see the Rams sign another QB for the preseason. Rodrigue cites sources who believed the Rams would add a UDFA to serve as a fourth quarterback for training camp. The organization still hasn’t added anyone to the trio of Matthew Stafford, John Wolford, and Bryce Perkins, and Rodrigue opines that the grouping is probably locked in. As a result, the Rams can’t offer much to a free agent QB besides some preseason opportunities, but they’ll likely find someone to fill that role before the start of camp.
The Rams’ celebration period for their Super Bowl LVI victory over the Bengals has wound down, and it’s time for Los Angeles to start gearing up for a potential repeat. There’s a bit of work to do on the offensive line with the retirement of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and the departure of right guard Austin Corbett in free agency.
According to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop, the Rams have long hoped that 2018 third-round pick Joseph Noteboom would eventually be prepared to fill in when Whitworth finally hung up his cleats. He’ll likely get that opportunity this season. Barshop also mentions that head coach Sean McVay said during minicamp that a competition will take place for the vacant right guard spot. Bobby Evans has been penciled into that starting role since Corbett left for Carolina, but the Rams were reportedly ecstatic to land Wisconsin guardLogan Bruss in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Expect Bruss to push Evans for the starting right guard job this summer.
Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC West, starting with a note out of last year’s fourth-place team in the division:
Ten years ago, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll relied on preseason games to determine the quarterback competition between Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn. According to Brady Henderson of ESPN, Carroll will stick to his guns and use preseason game-tape as a heavy factor in determining if Geno Smith or trade-acquisition Drew Lock will start Week 1, when Wilson returns to Lumen Field. Carroll has claimed that the team is in “good shape” with its current quarterback room that rosters Smith, Lock, and Jacob Eason.
Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson turned heads last summer in Arizona and surprised many when he was named a starter alongside Byron Murphy Jr. over veteran free agent addition Robert Alford. After six strong years in Atlanta (five as a full-time starter), Alford was expected to serve as the starting cornerback opposite Murphy while Wilson matured as a rookie at the NFL level. After a pectoral injury ended his season on injured reserve, the Cardinals allowed Alford to hit free agency. There’s still a chance Arizona brings back the 33-year-old, but, even if they do, Cardinals staff writer Darren Urban expects Wilson to retain his starting job opposite Murphy.
The Cardinals announced some promotions in their scouting staff last week. After spending the last three seasons as the team’s Western regional scout, Josh Scobey has been promoted to director of college scouting going into his 11th season in Arizona. Glen Fox will similarly spend his 10th season with the Cardinals as their director of pro personnel after being promoted from pro scout. Another nine-year Cardinal staffer, John Mancini will spend his 10th season as a national scout after serving previously as an area scout. Zac Canty will become the team’s Central regional scout in his 11th season with the team. Rounding out the organization’s impressive show of longevity, Ryan Gold has been made assistant director of college scouting after eight years with the team in different scouting roles, most recently college scouting coordinator. Lastly, former scouting assistant Alex Valles has been made an area scout for the Cardinals.
The only rookie with any expectations of starting, Logan Bruss out of Wisconsin, was their first pick in the draft, despite not hearing his name called until the third round. After the retirement of tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Austin Corbett‘s departure to the Panthers is free agency, Los Angeles needed to address its offensive line. Veteran tackle Joseph Noteboom is expected to slide in a left tackle for Whitworth, but Bruss will compete with Bobby Evans and Tremayne Anchrum for the the right guard starting job left vacant by Corbett. The Rams ended their draft addressing the offensive line, as well, selecting Michigan State tackle AJ Arcuri with one of their three seventh-round picks.
Los Angeles made several additions to its secondary, as well, through the draft. Cornerbacks Darious Williams and Donte Deayon hit the free agent market, but the Rams were able to bring back Troy Hill via trade after a one-year vacation in Cleveland this offseason. They may not be expected to start right away, but South Carolina State’s Decobie Durant and Georgia’s Derion Kendrick will add some depth to help make up for the free agency losses. With Nick Scott, Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp, and Terrell Burgess all returning at safety, UCLA’s Quentin Lake and Kansas State’s Russ Yeast will try to unseat them and each other in order to earn a roster spot at the end of camps.
The Rams lost Sony Michel to the Dolphins this offseason but bring back running backs Cam Akers, who returned from a preseason tear of his Achilles tendon in the last week of the regular season last year, and Darrell Henderson. Los Angeles selected Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams in the fifth round not only for his prowess as a runner but because he showed a talent in college for receiving the ball, as well, a skill that has been missing from the Rams’ backfield since the days of prime Todd Gurley.