Rams' 53-man roster projection includes Nelson Spruce, 4 TEs

The Los Angeles Rams must cut their roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here's a final 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACK (3): Jared Goff, Case Keenum, Sean Mannion

There's enough uncertainty at the quarterback position to necessitate a third-string guy in Mannion, who played well in the second half of the first preseason game. The question, of course, is when does Goff become the starter over Keenum? Still no telling.

RUNNING BACK (4): Malcolm Brown, Benny Cunningham, Todd Gurley, Chase Reynolds

It was hard to leave undrafted rookie Aaron Green off this list. He has impressed in camp, but it's hard to justify five running backs when Gurley is going to carry so much of the load. Cunningham and Brown, who looks good heading into his second season, provide plenty of support for Gurley, and Reynolds will mostly contribute on special teams. One notable absentee is Tre Mason, who has not reported to the team after a bizarre offseason.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Pharoh Cooper, Bradley Marquez, Brian Quick, Nelson Spruce

This was the toughest position to project because the Rams brought in an assortment of undrafted rookies to camp, and some of them have impressed. Ultimately I went with Spruce, even though a knee injury has sidelined him for the past two weeks. If he starts practicing this coming week, it could be enough to make it, with the Rams worried that another team will pluck him from them. Mike Thomas, Duke Williams and Paul McRoberts may also have a shot. And Quick may barely be holding on. It'll be interesting to see if the Rams go with an additional receiver because Cooper (shoulder) is expected to miss at least Week 1.

TIGHT END (4): Cory Harkey, Temarrick Hemingway, Tyler Higbee, Lance Kendricks

Teams don't necessarily make a habit of carrying four tight ends, but the Rams figure to use this position heavily. They really like what they've seen out of their two rookies, Higbee and Hemingway. Both may make the team, though Hemingway, who didn't have a great showing in Saturday's 17-9 loss to the Denver Broncos, isn't a sure thing.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Tim Barnes, Jamon Brown, Andrew Donnal, Rob Havenstein, Garrett Reynolds, Demetrius Rhaney, Greg Robinson, Rodger Saffold, Cody Wichmann

The Rams had issues in their offensive line last season; the unit was ranked 31st out of 32 teams by Pro Football Focus heading into this season. For what it's worth, this department has been mostly a bright spot in the preseason. Darrell Williams, Isaiah Battle and Eric Kush -- the tank top-loving center -- were the tough calls here.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald, Dominique Easley, William Hayes, Matt Longacre, Robert Quinn, Eugene Sims, Cam Thomas, Ethan Westbrooks

The Rams released Quinton Coples on Monday, and I previously had him on here. Coples was a former first-round pick who was transitioning from defensive end to tackle. To account for his departure, I added an additional cornerback. Ian Seau, nephew of Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau, has done well, recording a couple of tackles and a sack -- and another near sack -- in the first two preseason games. But I have him just barely missing the final cut.

LINEBACKER (5): Akeem Ayers, Mark Barron, Bryce Hager, Cameron Lynch, Alec Ogletree

Josh Forrest, the sixth-round pick out of Kentucky, may ultimately lose out here if the Rams stay with five linebackers (they began last season with six). Nic Grigsby, an undrafted rookie out of Pittsburgh, was also a close call.

CORNERBACK (6): E.J. Gaines, Troy Hill, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner, Marcus Roberson, Coty Sensabaugh

I was previously set with five cornerbacks here, but Coples' release and Gaines' quad injury, suffered on Saturday, prompted me to add Hill to my final 53. Hill went through concussion protocol on Saturday, but is said to be feeling fine. Gaines, who spent all of 2015 recovering from foot surgery, is the key at this position. The state of the secondary will hinge largely on whether he can stay on the field and tap into his 2014 form.

SAFETY (4): Maurice Alexander, Christian Bryant, Cody Davis, T.J. McDonald

This one appears pretty set, with Alexander and McDonald the starters. Brian Randolph could've made a run at a spot here, but he tore his ACL in the first preseason game and is now on injured reserve. This group will be trying to make up for the loss of Rodney McLeod, who has started every Rams game over the past three seasons.

SPECIALIST (3): LS Jake McQuaide; P Johnny Hekker; K Greg Zuerlein

The Rams signed Taylor Bertolet to give Zuerlein competition, but the undrafted rookie hasn't proven enough to unseat him, even after a season in which Zuerlein missed a third of his field goal attempts. Hekker is one of the game's best punters and is a lock; same for McQuaide as the long snapper.