EARTH CITY, Mo. -- We've officially reached the closest thing to a dead period the NFL has to offer these days as organized team activities are over and training camp has not yet arrived.
That means vacation time for the players, coaches and, yes, reporters. In the meantime, let's get to know some of the lesser-known additions to the Rams roster: the rookie free agents.
Position: Defensive tackle
College: West Texas A&M
Weight: 267 pounds
Stat to know: Westbrooks' final two seasons at West Texas A&M were so impressive it's hard to pick just one statistic but his body of work was so impressive it had many labeling him a potential draft sleeper. In 2012, Westbrooks dominated to the tune of 19.5 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss. With more attention from blockers last year, he still managed seven and a half sacks with 19.5 tackles. Penalties were a problem for him in college but that type of production is hard to argue with regardless of the competition. For good measure, he also had two sacks against tougher competition at the East-West Shrine Game.
Road to the roster: The Rams handed Westbrooks a fairly sizable signing bonus for an undrafted rookie and the largest among the group the team signed. Clearly, they think highly of him and believe he could compete for a roster spot. Things get more complicated, though, when looking at the competition. The Rams have been happy to carry an extra defensive lineman in the past, bringing nine along to the active roster in each of the past two years. As it stands, the Rams have eight players who appear to be all but locked in to spots barring injury issues. That would leave a ninth spot up for grabs that Westbrooks could potentially seize. But it won't be easy. The Rams don't seem to care much whether that ninth lineman is a tackle or end but seventh-round pick Michael Sam and returning end Sammy Brown still figure into the competition. Defensive tackle Matt Conrath is also in the mix. It may come down to special teams or, like Gerald Rivers did last year, showing major pass rush potential to win the job. Westbrooks has a chance here but it won't be easy.