THOUSAND OAKS, C (News4usonline) – One of the most difficult days to navigate as an NFL head coach is trimming the team’s roster to the league’s mandate of 53 players. It is a day that players dread but one that they all know is coming.
The preseason is behind the Los Angeles Rams. Now it’s on to defending their Super Bowl LVI title. The Rams open the season on Sept. 8 against the Buffalo Bills. The task for Rams head coach Sean McVay and his staff is to put together the best 53-man roster possible in order to do that.
In order to do that, McVay and his staff would have to go through their preseason roster to sift what players to keep and what players to waive. It’s not an easy process, said McVay, who admitted that the task of releasing and keeping players is difficult.
“Yeah, it is,” said McVay. “You always want it to be challenging. You never want it to get any easier because you want to make sure that the right empathy is demonstrated. But I think the best thing that I could say in a lot of instances, you got your 53, you got your 48, but then you’ve got 16 guys that are going to be on the practice squad that in my mind are still part of this team. I think there’s this narrative if you just watch Hard Knocks that soon as the 53 is done then that’s it.”
McVay went on to say that not making the 53-player roster is not the end of the story for other hopefuls.
“There’s a lot of fluidity that goes on as you guys know as well as I do,” McVay added. “So there’s going to be some tough decisions, but in my mind, a lot of these guys that are here with these 80 are going to be a part of our team as it relates to being on the practice squad. If a guy ends up…if we release him and he gets claimed by another team, you’re nothing but happy for those guys. There’s been a lot of good tape that players have put out there. They will make tough decisions for us, but I’m excited about really today kind of representing the first opportunity to trim our focus towards an excellent football team on the eighth and the sense of urgency has picked up a little.”
The Rams are deep and loaded at some positions. This will make some decisions harder than others, said McVay.
“Absolutely,” remarked McVay. “That’s what we’re getting ready to meet on as a coaching staff here and talk with (General Manager) Les (Snead), but that’s the goal. These guys have made these decisions difficult for us. There are a lot of layers to it, but we never go into it where there’s a finite number of certain positions. It’s that 53, but then that 48 drastically shapes the latter part of the roster, if you will. There’ll be some challenging, but the right types of discussions and then we’ll let make those decisions tomorrow.”
Going into training camp, making this Rams team was going to be slim pickings. When you’re the champions like the Rams, teams don’t usually like to mess around too much in tinkering with their roster. Even with the certain allotment of free agent defections, the Rams have just about all of the key ingredients from their Super Bowl LVI win against the Cincinnati Bengals intact.
One of the deepest units on the team is at the wide receiver spot. And yet, this has been one of the most talked about areas of the team all through training camp and throughout the preseason with the emergence of undrafted Montana State rookie Lance McCutcheon, who has simply played as if he belongs on the roster.
However, at the end of the day that will be a decision that McVay and his staff will make. And like the other positions that he will be evaluating, McVay will have his say on that matter, including giving players clarity on the process.
“I think the one thing I realized when you come from Washington, where you’re in a coordinator role after they’ve already got the information as opposed to you’re the one delivering that information, it never gets easier,” said McVay. “But I know this, in a lot of instances when you’re delivering that tough information, sometimes guys don’t really hear a lot. You want to be clear, open and honest, but also to the point but also empathetic and appreciative of everything that these guys have done.
“I think in a lot of instances, if the communication is what we expect as we’re navigating through this process, you don’t ever want to have guys truly caught off guard. You want to be able to give them the respect that’s been earned and kind of let them know if they have the questions exactly why the decisions were made. They might not always agree with it, but at least our intentions are what we think is best for our football team.”
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, MLB, racial and social justice, civil rights, and HBCUs. Dennis earned a journalism degree from “The Mecca” aka Howard University. “I write on what I am passionate about.”