The fourth NFL preseason game is the last chance for players to impress coaches and make a roster or practice squad, or at least put another performance on their resume.
That will be the case for Rams players Thursday night against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Two days later, the roster will be cut from 90 players to 53. NFL teams can then sign as many as 10 players to their practice squad.
Several Rams veterans used the final preseason game to make practice squads as rookies.
In 2016, defensive lineman Morgan Fox was an undrafted free agent from Colorado State-Pueblo. In the final preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, he played 50 snaps on defense, and had two sacks and two quarterback hits.
“It’s kind of that last day to show what you’ve got and what you learned, and kind of build on all the bricks you’ve laid during the preseason,” Fox said Monday. “You get the most reps during that game, so you really get to kind of show out.”
Fox did not make the roster, but he was eventually activated from the practice squad and played in four games. He played in every game in 2017, and then suffered a major knee injury during offseason workouts, sidelining him for all of last season.
Now he is back and regarded as a valuable rotational player.
In 2015, cornerback Troy Hill was trying to make the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent.
In the preseason finale against the Indianapolis Colts, he played 45 snaps on defense and 13 on special teams.
“For the most part, I was in there the whole game,” he said.
Hill made the practice squad and was eventually activated for a three-game stint. After he was waived, the New England Patriots claimed him. But he was quickly released and claimed by the Rams.
He has been a valuable special teams player, backup and spot starter since.
Hill said he would always remember his final preseason game as a rookie.
“It all plays a part in what they assess,” he said, adding, “Everything matters.”
Happy to sit out
Like nearly every Rams starter, running back Todd Gurley has been held out of preseason games so that he will be physically sound for the Sept. 8 opener against the Carolina Panthers.
Gurley also continues to be given a lighter workload during practices, and on some days he is held out of those as the Rams manage the load on his left knee.
Do friends on other NFL team wish they did not have to play in preseason games?
“Yeah, I call them all the time and tell them I had an off-day and they’re like, ‘Man, we just practiced for three hours,’” Gurley said. “I got a lot of friends that play in the preseason, so I’ll check up on them and see how they’re doing, how their preseason goes.
“But yeah. They definitely wish they weren’t playing, for sure.”
Linebacker Troy Reeder was fined $10,527 for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the Rams’ preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. Reeder was ejected from the game after a hit on quarterback Cooper Rush.