Let’s be honest, it seems like forever until the 2019 regular season begins. But, training camp is the priority now and it gives us an early look at the team. Some positions have some key battles, while others are a bit of concern. Below are some key positions to watch for as the camp progresses:
Before anyone says anything, yes, I am aware that Gurley probably won’t participate much. It’s likely he won’t see the field until Week 1 of the regular season. But, this should be fun to see considering there is a logjam behind Gurley. Malcolm Brown will likely hold on to the immediate backup role. The competition begins with John Kelly, Darrell Henderson and Justin Davis. All three of these guys can be a contributor and offer something unique to the roster. However, one of them will be cut and may just be Davis unless he explodes in camp and preseason.
While we suspect that Joseph Noteboom and Austin Blythe will be the starters, we don’t know for certain. Blythe could technically be a center and this may force the Rams to start rookies Bobby Evans or David Edwards. That idea isn’t likely, but it all depends on several players. The offensive line in general is a bit of a mystery heading into the regular season. The only position that’s set on the line are the tackles. Every other position is open. We may get more of an idea seeing how many reps Sean McVay places Austin Blythe at either position.
Much like guard, center is a bit of an unknown at this time. Brian Allen seems like he might be the starter, but nothing is set in stone. Reports of the Rams coaching staff suggest that the Rams are high on Allen. The 2019 NFL Draft results also back this claim. But Blythe is still an option if McVay feels that Allen isn’t ready quite yet. The preseason will likely tell us more, but the Rams better hope that Allen is ready or else this could be a tough situation for Jared Goff.
The Rams have temporary solutions in Dante Fowler and Clay Matthews. Fowler is on a make-or-break year, but he now will have a full year with the Rams. He did excel toward the latter half of the 2018 season. Meanwhile, Matthews provides veteran leadership and a bit of an upgrade at the position. Matthews won’t be an every-down starter, and will likely split time at inside linebacker. He may also be able to teach guys like Samson Ebukam and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Hopefully, Okoronkwo can come back 100 percent and contribute a little more.
Quite possibly the most uncertainty at any position is inside linebacker. The Rams cut Mark Barron, but they did tender Cory Littleton. That leaves one spot to basically have a committee of different contributors. Matthews will likely play sometime there and split time with Micah Kiser and maybe Taylor Rapp in certain packages. It may be a little too early to ask Dakota Allen to contribute, but he’s a guy to watch out for. Natrez Patrick may be another guy to watch. This is an extremely thin position, so Patrick may contribute if he’s good enough.