When training camp begins later this month, the St Louis Rams will look to have a good idea of who the players will be that will be making the biggest contributions to the team in 2014. They are a team with a good amount of depth at certain positions and other positions that are more of a mystery. By the end of training camp and start of the preaseason, the Rams hope to have players emerge as clear cut starters for their team next season.
The most intriguing position battles taking place in training camp this year is at wide receiver. The Rams signed Kenny Britt in the offseason and he will likely start at one of the receiver spots, but that isn’t a given. Chris Givens and Austin Pettis will be in a heated competition for the other wide out spot. Both have good size and hands but have underachieved during the early part of their careers. One of them will have to step up if the Rams are going to have two reliable receivers out wide.
Tavon Austin looks like he has the slot position locked down. He had over 500 all purpose yards last year and will look to improve on his rookie year. Stedman Bailey has been working hard and although he is another underachiever so far in his career with the Rams, he will hope to man another slot position on offense to lighten the load for Austin, who will also be used in the special teams and running game. The receiver position will be the most interesting spot to see who emerges as productive players for quarterback Sam Bradford.
The free safety position is a spot that the Rams wanted to improve on in the offseason and are begging any player to pass up Rodney McLeod. Rookie Mo Alexander has the best chance to take McLeod’s job, who had his struggles in 2013. Alexander is a hard hitting safety who is not afraid to come up and make a tackle near the line of scrimmage, something defensive coordinator Gregg Williams loves, but he lacks elite speed that corners need at times to cover the league’s quickest receivers. Speedster rookie E.J. Gaines is the 3rd cornerback and first nickel cornerback option but could see some time at safety in obvious passing situations.
Zac Stacy has the starting running back position locked down. He had an incredible rookie year after being drafted in the fifth round. Who will be backing him up is a bit of a question mark at this point.
The Rams drafted former Auburn star Tre Mason, and he has been doing all the right things to put himself in a position to earn significant playing time in 2014. Benny Cunningham also had a solid rookie year, averaging 5 yards per carry, although he only had 41 carries. All of the Rams running backs look to be clones of each other: stocky guys with broad shoulders who don’t have elite speed but possess the power to run through guys and always fall forward for those few extra yards. It’s looking like it will be a running back by committee situation in St Louis with Stacy carrying the majority of the load.