Rams have tough decisions to make as they work to trim roster to 53

Justin Davis
Running back Justin Davis will learn Saturday whether he has made the Rams’ roster.
(Michael Owen Baker / Associated Press)

With roster cuts looming, the Rams had a good idea what their 53-man roster would look like even before they played their final preseason game at Green Bay.

Some of the 37 players who could be waived by Saturday afternoon’s deadline seemed obvious. Six or seven would not be.

“Definitely going to be some tough discussions toward the end of that, when you’re looking at in between that 46 and 53,” coach Sean McVay said after the loss to the Packers. “But those are good problems to have.”

Unlike several NFL teams that released the names of the first wave of players cut, the Rams on Friday were mum about their moves.


But running back Aaron Green, a member of the Rams practice squad last season, posted a messages to his Twitter account that indicated he might have been waived.

Green, who had competed with former USC running back Justin Davis for a spot as the third running back behind starter Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown, posted two messages.

“Thank you @RamsNFL for an opportunity of a lifetime! The show goes on!” he tweeted, along with, “Enjoyed my time here in LA, excited to see where I end up next!”

Like all NFL teams, the Rams are informing players they are released while also scanning the waiver wire to possibly fortify the roster with players let go by other clubs.


The Rams are fifth among the 32 NFL teams in the claiming order, the same order in which teams selected in this year’s draft. (The Tennessee Titans had the fifth pick in the first round as part of the trade that enabled the Rams to move to the top of the 2016 draft to select quarterback Jared Goff.)

“You kind of have a projected ideal 53 going into this game and then you’ve got to take into consideration some of the guys that would be possible claims for us, especially being able to be in that fifth spot where you might take advantage of that,” McVay said.

The Rams also will sign 10 players who have cleared waivers to the practice squad.

The Rams’ roster decisions could come at several positions, including the defensive line. The position group has been in flux because of a season-ending knee injury suffered by lineman Dominique Easley and Aaron Donald’s holdout because of a contract dispute.

McVay said Thursday that he was “definitely optimistic” that Donald would report in the coming week. Rams representatives had met with Donald’s representatives in Atlanta on Wednesday, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Quarterback Jared Goff and backup Sean Mannion are on the roster, but veteran Dan Orlovsky would be a luxury. Orlovsky’s contract is guaranteed if he is on the roster the first week, so he could be cut and then possibly re-signed if the Rams did not use the spot elsewhere.

Davis, an undrafted free agent who got workhorse carries throughout the preseason, appears to have made the team after overcoming two fumbles in his debut against the Dallas Cowboys. Rookie fullback Sam Rogers, a sixth-round draft pick, carved a role with special teams play.

If the Rams go with six receivers, they would probably be Tavon Austin, Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, Pharoh Cooper and rookies Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds. Second-year pro Mike Thomas is suspended for the first four games.


The broken fibula sustained by tight end Temarrick Hemingway leaves the Rams with three tight ends: rookie Gerald Everett, second-year pro Tyler Higbee and veteran Cory Harkey.

The starting offensive line consists of tackles Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein, guards Rodger Saffold and Jamon Brown and center John Sullivan. Andrew Donnal, who has been sidelined because of a leg injury, Cody Wichmann, Austin Blythe, Darrell Williams and Pace Murphy are competing for the remaining spots.

Assuming Donald reports in time, he will join Michael Brockers, Ethan Westbrooks, Tanzel Smart and Tyrunn Walker. Louis Trinca-Pasat, Morgan Fox, Mike Purcell also are competing for spots.

Alec Ogletree, Mark Barron, Connor Barwin and Robert Quinn are starting linebackers and Josh Forrest and rookie Samson Ebukam appear to be locks. Cory Littleton, Matt Longacre, Nic Grigsby, Bryce Hager and rookie Ejuan Price are competing for roles.

Trumaine Johnson and Kayvon Webster are the starting cornerbacks, and Nickell Robey-Coleman the nickel back. Mike Jordan is a back-up on the outside. Troy Hill is suspended for the first two games.

Maurice Alexander and Lamarcus Joyner are the starters at safety. Cody Davis and rookie John Johnson have roles and Marqui Christian and Blake Countess could figure in the plan.

Punter Johnny Hekker, kicker Greg Zuerlein and snapper Jake McQuaide are the specialists.


Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein


9:20 p.m.: This article has been updated to remove a tweet by Paul McRoberts that was taken down from a website.

This article was originally published at 8:15 p.m.

Get our daily Sports Report newsletter