Rams cut LB Akeem Ayers, keep 7 WRs in final 53

Akeem Ayers was expected to be a starter for the Rams this season. The team released the linebacker instead. Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams cut 20 players on Saturday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here's a closer look at the final cuts:

Most significant move: The Rams surprisingly cut ties with Akeem Ayers, projected to be one of their starting linebackers. Ayers is a five-year veteran who is strong against the run and has started 58 games since 2011, spending his first three-plus years with the Tennessee Titans, then finishing the 2014 season with the Patriots before joining the Rams. Ayers started 11 games for the Rams in 2015, compiling 35 tackles, recovering three fumbles and scoring a touchdown. The Rams signed Ayers to a two-year deal heading into 2015 and will save $3.3 million in cap space this year by letting him go. But who will start alongside Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron at linebacker? The remaining options are a sixth-round draft pick (Josh Forrest), a second-year player who has never started an NFL game (Bryce Hager) and two undrafted free agents (Nic Grigsby, Cory Littleton).

Most significant non-move: Undrafted wide receiver Nelson Spruce made the team despite spending the past three weeks tending to a knee injury. Veteran wideout Brian Quick made it, too, despite a rash of drops that prompted Rams coach Jeff Fisher to call him out publicly. The Rams will enter the season with seven receivers on their 53-man roster. Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Pharoh Cooper, Bradley Marquez and Michael Thomas are the others, with Austin Hill, Paul McRoberts and Duke Williams waived. They need the extra bodies with Spruce still rehabbing, Cooper expected to miss at least the opener with a shoulder injury and Marquez dealing with a tender right ankle. Rams receivers were statistically the worst in the league last season. The Rams are counting on Spruce and Cooper, taken in the fourth round, to provide a major boost when they return to full strength.

Not enough room on the D-line: The Rams made some notable cuts on the defensive line, an indication of the overall strength within the unit. Veteran defensive tackle Cam Thomas, who was heading into his seventh season, had his contract terminated. Linebacker Ian Seau, nephew of Hall of Famer Junior Seau, was waived. So was Morgan Fox, who broke out in Thursday's preseason finale with two sacks, two tackles for a loss and four quarterback hits. Beyond the starting line of Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, William Hayes and Michael Brockers, the Rams kept Eugene Sims, Matt Longacre, Dominique Easley and Ethan Westbrooks.

Other notable developments: Center Eric Kush, a favorite on "Hard Knocks" for his congenial personality and love of tank tops, was let go, leaving Demetrius Rhaney as the backup to Tim Barnes. Troy Hill, who has spent this week going through the concussion protocol, remained, giving the Rams a fifth cornerback with E.J. Gaines dealing with a quad injury. The Rams opted to keep four running backs (Todd Gurley, Benjamin Cunningham, Malcolm Brown and Chase Reynolds, who's mainly a special-teams contributor) but waived impressive rookie Aaron Green. They're also going with four tight ends -- Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey, Tyler Higbee and Temarrick Hemingway. The Rams cut safety Christian Bryant, leaving only three at the position -- Maurice Alexander, Cody Davis and T.J. McDonald.

Rams moves: Terminated contracts for LB Akeem Ayers, DT Cam Thomas; waived T Isaiah Battle, DB Christian Bryant, LB Brandon Chubb, TE Justice Cunningham, DT Morgan Fox, DB Rohan Gaines, RB Aaron Green, WR Austin Hill, CB Mike Jordan, DB Jordan Kovacs, C Eric Kush, LB Cameron Lynch, RB Terrence Magee, WR Paul McRoberts, DB Marcus Roberson, DE Ian Seau, DB Jabriel Washington, WR Duke Williams; placed OL Garrett Reynolds and OL Darrell Williams on injured reserve.