EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams are taking their final roster decisions down to the wire as Saturday's 4 p.m. ET deadline to reach a 53-man roster approaches.
But Friday afternoon into Saturday, the team began making moves to get close. They've released 17 players already and will be able to place receiver Stedman Bailey on the reserve/suspended list for the first four games. That leaves the Rams with just four more moves to make to get from 75 to 53.
Released so far: WR Emory Blake, G Travis Bond, DE Kourtnei Brown, S Avery Cunningham, WR Austin Franklin, QB Garrett Gilbert, DT Deantre Harlan, LB Aaron Hill, OT Sean Hooey, CB Greg Reid, LB Etienne Sabino, TE Brad Smelley, LB Phillip Steward, OT Mitchell Van Dyk, WR Justin Veltung, LB Lawrence Wilson and CB Darren Woodard.
So with four moves to make, the Rams have some tough decisions as they try to balance the numbers with special teams with their efforts to keep the 53 best players on the team.
There are a few places they are still heavy.
At tight end, the Rams still have five players. They will likely keep four, leaving them a decision between Justice Cunningham and Alex Bayer. According to Jim Thomas, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cunningham suffered an ankle injury against Miami on Thursday night. That could easily mean Bayer makes the roster and the Rams make a move with Cunningham.
In the secondary, the Rams currently have 11 players on the roster including six cornerbacks. I expect them to keep six because of the injuries to Trumaine Johnson (knee) and Brandon McGee (ankle). But five safeties is probably too many. T.J. McDonald, Rodney McLeod and Maurice Alexander are locks. Cody Davis and Christian Bryant might be in a battle for what could be a final spot with special teams a strong factor.
At defensive line, the Rams have 11 currently on the roster with eight set in their spots. That leaves Ethan Westbrooks, Michael Sam and Matt Conrath jockeying for position. At this point, Westbrooks looks to be locked in. Conrath has been battling an undisclosed injury, which could require additional maneuvering in the form of a settlement if the Rams wish to part ways with him.
On the offensive line, Barrett Jones presents the biggest conundrum. He had back surgery and is out for an extended period. The Rams could place him on injured reserve if they don't believe he'll be back in a reasonable amount of time. If they choose to keep him, it would mean keeping 10 linemen, as they did last year.
And, at running back, the Rams have five currently on the roster but it's entirely possible they'll keep it that way. They carried five last season and Trey Watts and Chase Reynolds both have strong cases to stick.
We'll find out officially at today's 4 p.m. ET deadline.