Johnny Hekker reworked his contract to stay with Rams

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NBC Sports 02 September, 2021 - 05:40am 15 views

When is the NFL 53 man roster deadline?

When is the cut deadline? All 32 NFL teams are required to be at the 53-man limit before 4:00 PM ET today, Tuesday, August 31, 2021. Bleeding Green NationNFL roster cuts, explained

Johnny Hekker, the Rams’ punter and longest-tenured player, was no lock to make the roster this year after another punter, Corey Bojorquez, performed well in training camp. But Hekker worked with the Rams to remain in Los Angeles.

Hekker reworked his contract before the Rams kept him on the 53-player roster and traded Bojorquez to Green Bay, according to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. Hekker’s cap hit of $4.9 million this season was scheduled to be by far the highest for any punter in the NFL, so it’s unsurprising that the Rams wanted him to accept less.

Rams coach Sean McVay said that Bojorquez did great work in training camp and the preseason but that the Rams wanted to stick with Hekker, who has had a lot of success punting in Los Angeles — and St. Louis.

“What Johnny’s done here . . . long before I got here, is something that doesn’t go lost on me, doesn’t go lost on us,” McVay said. “And I am confident that he’s going to be the productive player he’s been throughout the course of his career.”

I think the Packers may have come out pretty well on this deal.

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Predicting the Rams' 17-man practice squad

Rams Wire 02 September, 2021 - 07:20am

The Rams reduced their roster to the 53-man limit on Tuesday. Here's a position-by-position look at Los Angeles' first 53-man roster of the 2021 season.

For the first time since heading into the 2018 season, the Rams elected to carry three quarterbacks on their initial 53-man roster. Perkins' inclusion speaks to his performance not only in the preseason, but also the last year-plus as a member of Los Angeles' practice squad. Also of significance compared to last year's initial 53: Having reserves with live game experience. Wolford appeared in his first NFL game last year and also started a playoff game, while Perkins saw extensive action across each of the Rams' three preseason games this year.

With Akers sustaining a torn Achilles prior to training camp and being placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list, Henderson is the lead back, with Michel's physical presence complementing Henderson and the rest of the group. Funk makes the roster after overcoming two ACL injuries in college and getting drafted in the seventh-round. Xavier Jones was Waived/Injured.

The wide receiver room looks a little bit different from last year's initial ensemble. Woods, Kupp and Jefferson return, with newcomer Jackson and rookies Atwell and Skowronek rounding out the group. Woods and Kupp enter their fifth season working together. Atwell brings speed that has also made him valuable as a punt returner, while Skowronek, as general manager Les Snead said this spring after he was drafted, brings a different "genre" the group doesn't have at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds.

Similar to last year, the Rams elected to keep four tight ends on their initial 53-man roster. Higbee posted 44 receptions for 521 yards and a career-best five touchdowns, while Mundt's blocking made him a valuable asset in the run game. Hopkins mainly contributed on special teams when he saw action last year. Harris continues to learn the position after playing wide receiver in college.

This year's group of offensive linemen has plenty of game experience, whether it's starting (Whitworth, Edwards, Allen, Corbett, Havenstein, Noteboom, Evans) or special teams duty (Anchrum). Jackson is the only undrafted free agent to make the nitial 53-man roster.

The Rams' defensive line looks different this year with the departures of Michael Brockers and Morgan Fox. Robinson, Donald, Joseph-Day and Gaines return, with Hoecht and Williams – after strong preseasons this year and spending last year on their practice squad – rounding out the group along with rookie Bobby Brown III.

The Rams go with five edge defenders initially year, highlighted by seventh-round pick Chris Garrett making the rotation. Hollins was brought on last year because of his versatility – he had been learning both inside linebacker and outside linebacker while with the Broncos – and will be at outside linebacker this year. Rams head coach Sean McVay said after Tuesday's practice that Okoronkwo (shoulder stinger) being placed on short-term injured reserve this week is a "probable yes."

Reeder, Young and Howard return with starting experience. Jones had a solid preseason which included getting experience as defensive signal-caller.

After initially carrying six cornerbacks last year, the Rams start with four this year. Long is expected to take on a bigger role this season following Troy Hill's departure.

The Rams' offseason roster had lots of depth at safety, and they go with a six-man group of Rapp, Scott, Burgess, Fuller and Reed. Rapp and Fuller both have starting experience. Scott has been a long-time special teams contributor and is capable of stepping up when needed. Burgess saw time on both defense and special teams as a rookie in 2020 and gives L.A.'s secondary options with his versatile background. Reed makes the initial 53-man after getting signed to the Rams' practice squad in September last year and eventually getting signed to the active roster in early December. Hughes appeared in 12 games last year – primarily on special teams – after beginning the 2020 season on their practice squad.

Gay enters his first full season with the Rams after arriving in L.A. in mid-November 2020. Orzech beat out Steven Wirtel to succeed Jake McQuaide as the Rams' next longsnapper.

How's Matthew Stafford's Rams offensive supporting cast look? - Los Angeles Rams Blog- ESPN

ESPN 02 September, 2021 - 07:20am

The Rams reduced their roster to the 53-man limit on Tuesday. Here's a position-by-position look at Los Angeles' first 53-man roster of the 2021 season.

For the first time since heading into the 2018 season, the Rams elected to carry three quarterbacks on their initial 53-man roster. Perkins' inclusion speaks to his performance not only in the preseason, but also the last year-plus as a member of Los Angeles' practice squad. Also of significance compared to last year's initial 53: Having reserves with live game experience. Wolford appeared in his first NFL game last year and also started a playoff game, while Perkins saw extensive action across each of the Rams' three preseason games this year.

With Akers sustaining a torn Achilles prior to training camp and being placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list, Henderson is the lead back, with Michel's physical presence complementing Henderson and the rest of the group. Funk makes the roster after overcoming two ACL injuries in college and getting drafted in the seventh-round. Xavier Jones was Waived/Injured.

The wide receiver room looks a little bit different from last year's initial ensemble. Woods, Kupp and Jefferson return, with newcomer Jackson and rookies Atwell and Skowronek rounding out the group. Woods and Kupp enter their fifth season working together. Atwell brings speed that has also made him valuable as a punt returner, while Skowronek, as general manager Les Snead said this spring after he was drafted, brings a different "genre" the group doesn't have at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds.

Similar to last year, the Rams elected to keep four tight ends on their initial 53-man roster. Higbee posted 44 receptions for 521 yards and a career-best five touchdowns, while Mundt's blocking made him a valuable asset in the run game. Hopkins mainly contributed on special teams when he saw action last year. Harris continues to learn the position after playing wide receiver in college.

This year's group of offensive linemen has plenty of game experience, whether it's starting (Whitworth, Edwards, Allen, Corbett, Havenstein, Noteboom, Evans) or special teams duty (Anchrum). Jackson is the only undrafted free agent to make the nitial 53-man roster.

The Rams' defensive line looks different this year with the departures of Michael Brockers and Morgan Fox. Robinson, Donald, Joseph-Day and Gaines return, with Hoecht and Williams – after strong preseasons this year and spending last year on their practice squad – rounding out the group along with rookie Bobby Brown III.

The Rams go with five edge defenders initially year, highlighted by seventh-round pick Chris Garrett making the rotation. Hollins was brought on last year because of his versatility – he had been learning both inside linebacker and outside linebacker while with the Broncos – and will be at outside linebacker this year. Rams head coach Sean McVay said after Tuesday's practice that Okoronkwo (shoulder stinger) being placed on short-term injured reserve this week is a "probable yes."

Reeder, Young and Howard return with starting experience. Jones had a solid preseason which included getting experience as defensive signal-caller.

After initially carrying six cornerbacks last year, the Rams start with four this year. Long is expected to take on a bigger role this season following Troy Hill's departure.

The Rams' offseason roster had lots of depth at safety, and they go with a six-man group of Rapp, Scott, Burgess, Fuller and Reed. Rapp and Fuller both have starting experience. Scott has been a long-time special teams contributor and is capable of stepping up when needed. Burgess saw time on both defense and special teams as a rookie in 2020 and gives L.A.'s secondary options with his versatile background. Reed makes the initial 53-man after getting signed to the Rams' practice squad in September last year and eventually getting signed to the active roster in early December. Hughes appeared in 12 games last year – primarily on special teams – after beginning the 2020 season on their practice squad.

Gay enters his first full season with the Rams after arriving in L.A. in mid-November 2020. Orzech beat out Steven Wirtel to succeed Jake McQuaide as the Rams' next longsnapper.

Stafford, McVay team up to bolster reputations with Rams

USA TODAY 02 September, 2021 - 07:20am

Matthew Stafford is an elite quarterback with almost no significant team success during his dozen seasons in the NFL

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matthew Stafford is an elite quarterback with almost no significant team success during his dozen seasons in the NFL.

Sean McVay is a brilliant offensive football coach whose past two teams didn't crack the NFL's top 10 in scoring.

These men both have something basic to prove about their place in the game as they enter their first season together with the Los Angeles Rams, who are betting this partnership can lift an already good team to greatness.

The Hollywood spotlight is shining squarely on the 33-year-old Stafford, who left Detroit for a franchise with more playoff wins last season (one) than he managed in his entire tenure with the Lions.

Stafford knows this is his time. He realizes his NFL career could be defined by what happens in the next two seasons, which are also the last two years of his current contract.

With confidence befitting a veteran quarterback and a leader, Stafford is already thinking positively about both the weeks and years ahead in LA.

“I hope I’m getting better in this offense for five, seven, 10 years,” Stafford said. “I hope that my first game on September 12th isn’t my best game as a Ram. I’d love to have a great one, but I hope I get better and better in this offense with all these guys, with this team as it goes."

McVay has four winning seasons, three playoff berths, two NFC West titles and a Super Bowl appearance in his first four years with the Rams. He is still the NFL's youngest head coach at 35, and he's still among the top offensive minds in the sport — yet his past two teams were significantly better on defense than on offense.

McVay moved the game forward when he took over the Rams in 2017, but the league figured out how to slow him down. And though McVay refuses to say it publicly, the Rams' actions make it clear they feel Jared Goff was holding them back.

Los Angeles traded two first-round picks to replace Goff with Stafford, who gets the controls to McVay's schemes and the Rams' wealth of receiving talent, including newcomer DeSean Jackson. Stafford learned the Rams' secrets during his first few months, and the experience has left him determined to seize the biggest opportunity of his football life.

“Before this year, it was really unlike anything I’d ever done,” Stafford said. “So from afar, I was wondering how they got all that done, to be honest with you. Being inside of it now and being able to be a part of it, it's pretty cool to see how it all happens. ... Defenses have adapted and done things to try and disrupt some of the things that we have as an offense, but it’s on us to adapt further."

The Rams had the NFL's top defense last season, but lost four starters and coordinator Brandon Staley. McVay replaced Staley with Raheem Morris, who intends to run a scheme similar to Staley's setup last season with tweaks for personnel. But Los Angeles' efforts will again be built on the bedrock of three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey, who will take on even more responsibilities.

Running back Cam Akers' Achilles tendon injury forced LA to acquire Sony Michel, who starred against the Rams in the Super Bowl for New England. Michel will supplement Darrell Henderson, whose iffy injury history suggests Michel could get plenty of playing time if he can stay healthy himself. With only rookie Jake Funk behind them, the Rams are relatively thin after using three running backs extensively last season.

The Rams lost safety John Johnson and nickel back Troy Hill to Cleveland. Stalwart defensive end Michael Brockers then left for Detroit instead of restructuring his contract. Replacing the veteran trio will be difficult. Jordan Fuller is expected to take Johnson's leadership responsibilities at safety, while oft-injured Taylor Rapp steps into Johnson's starting spot.

Nickel back is still a concern, with untested David Long Jr. and rookie Robert Rochell the most likely candidates. A'Shawn Robinson will fill Brockers' role eventually, but he is injured to start the season.

Brian Allen became the Rams' starting center in 2019, but injured his knee nine games in. He didn't play at all last season, never reclaiming his job from Austin Blythe. But with Blythe gone to Kansas City as a free agent, Allen has improbably reclaimed the starting job, which seemed headed to guard Austin Corbett earlier this year.

The Rams' ultimate goal is obvious, but it carries added weight this season: The Super Bowl will be held at SoFi Stadium, Rams owner Stan Kroenke's multi-billion-dollar football palace in Inglewood. The Buccaneers already beat Los Angeles to the honor of being the first NFL team to win a Super Bowl in its home stadium, but the Rams will be surrounded by reminders of the huge event coming to their place. “It's a great motivation for sure,” receiver Robert Woods said. “But we don't need extra motivation.”

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Rams feeling super about revamped roster, but real test is a field of dreams for now

Los Angeles Times 01 September, 2021 - 08:39pm

The $5-billion stadium was built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

But Snead said Wednesday there was not extra pressure to make sure the Rams are playing there Feb. 13.

Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first team to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

“I don’t think it adds any element of more pressure than a normal, let’s call it, a big game in December,” Snead said. “Be cool though. We could have the first home game Super Bowl with like a lot of fans, not just an abbreviated amount of fans.”

A day after Snead and McVay trimmed the roster to 53 players, the Rams re-signed to their practice squad 14 players who went unclaimed, including veteran linebacker Micah Kiser.

The Rams kept veteran Johnny Hekker and traded fellow punter Corey Bojorquez to the Green Bay Packers as they trimmed down to a final, 53-man roster.

The roster is expected to go through more iterations before the Sept. 12 opener against the Chicago Bears on “Sunday Night Football.”

But some high-priced foundational pieces — notably quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey — are in place.

When asked to grade the Rams’ offseason, Snead answered by comparing it to a term paper.

“It’s a rough draft,” he said. “It really means nothing. It’s probably what you write at the end of the ’21 season. That’s the grade. ... Definitely ready to turn in the essay. We’ve probably done enough rough drafts, we’ve probably done enough retyping. We’re ready to turn this thing in … and compete.”

Is Snead confident that it is a Super Bowl-caliber roster?

The Rams know they need DeSean Jackson’s speed to stretch defenses this season, so they have strategically rested the veteran to make sure he’s healthy for the season opener.

“That’s the top of the mountain,” Snead said of the Super Bowl. “But we’re at base camp and we’re ready to start climbing.”

As the roster deadline loomed Tuesday, Snead’s and McVay’s most high-profile roster decision involved punter Johnny Hekker.

After Hekker agreed to restructure his contract — the NFL’s richest for a punter — the Rams traded Corey Baroque and a 2023 seventh-round draft pick to Green Bay for a 2023 sixth-round pick. Snead declined to discuss how the Rams restructured a deal that had called for Hekker to carry a salary-cap number of $4.9 million this season.

But the 24-year-old Bojorquez’s dynamic preseason performance, and what would probably would have been impending free agency after the season, made for a “a little bit of a conundrum,” Snead said.

“Johnny really wanted to be here, would love to finish his career in Los Angeles,” Snead said. “He’s been a pillar.”

Snead acknowledged that Hekker, 31, “maybe doesn’t have Corey’s leg” strength.

Five things to know about Sony Michel, who already has a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots. He has worked with the Rams’ running backs coach before.

“At one time, Johnny did, but at this stage maybe he doesn’t have that driver that Corey has,” Snead said.

But Hekker’s value as passing threat — he has completed 13 of 22 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown — are among “interesting nuances Johnny brings to the table,” Snead said.

The Rams kept quarterback Bryce Perkins on the roster rather than expose him to a possible waiver claim. Snead said that was done in part to prevent other teams from benefiting from the training the Rams provided Perkins.

“If they do get claimed,” he said of quarterbacks, “a lot of training that goes into it is gone in a heartbeat.”

Stafford was a given a veteran’s day off, offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell said. ... Donald was absent because his family is expecting a child soon, a Rams official said. ... Running back Sony Michel, who had been wearing No. 14, has switched to No. 25. ... The 14 players signed to the practice squad: Kiser, outside linebacker Justin Lawler, defensive linemen Earnest Jones IV and Marquise Copeland, defensive backs Dont’e Deayon, Kareem Orr and Tyler Hall, running back Otis Anderson, receivers Landen Akers and J.J. Koski, tight end Kendall Blanton, guard Jeremiah Kolone, tackles Chandler Brewer and Max Pircher, who as an international player is exempt.

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Gary Klein covers the Los Angeles Rams for the Los Angeles Times. Before that, he covered USC’s football program and athletic department. He began working for The Times in the San Fernando Valley edition and has reported on high school, college and pro sports. He grew up in Southern California and graduated from Cal State Northridge.

9 things we’ve learned about the LA Rams this year

Turf Show Times 01 September, 2021 - 08:31am

A rundown of the important answers we’ve gotten with final cuts

But with final cuts and a “55-man” roster now set for the Rams as of Tuesday, we can answer some of the questions that were left lingering through free agency, the draft, and training camp.

No, it is not a 1:1 replacement and they won’t play the same position or have the same role, but ultimately what we’ve found out is that Sean McVay plans to hand over a starting safety position to Rapp this season. It is probable that McVay and Morris will find opportunities for Terrell Burgess and Nick Scott, to say the least, but Rapp has been a regular with the ones throughout training camp and it doesn’t seem like there’s any reason to expect a change in that decision unless the coaches are forced into one during the season.

Rapp appeared in 15 games and played in 74% of the defensive snaps as a rookie in 2019, then appeared in nine games and played in 36% of the snaps in 2020. Injuries to rookie Jordan Fuller gave way to opportunities to start for Rapp last season, but then he finished the year on IR with a knee sprain.

Burgess may have seemed the obvious choice to grab Johnson’s spot headed into the offseason, but instead it is Fuller who will grab the ‘green dot’ duties and Rapp who will get the starting safety snaps.

One thing to keep in mind with regards to Burgess is that he didn’t become a starter at Utah until his senior season, which means that he’s now sat on the bench in four of the last five years of playing football.

Four of the last five years.

That’s a difficult reality when you come out of high school as a top-100 recruit in the state of California, but now you’ve mostly practiced except in 2019. Now consider that Burgess played strong safety that year and while versatility was considered a strength of his going into the draft, it’s still really difficult to learn how to play cornerback in one year and without preseason games in 2020.

So what options did the Rams really have to replace Hill other than:

a) re-sign Hill, a player who will be remembered fondly for his three touchdowns last year but not one without a couple flaws at cornerback

c) Robert Rochell, a fourth round rookie who has made 24 starts for the University of Central Arkansas over the last three years

Les Snead decided not to do a or d and once they saw enough of Dont’e Deayon and the other choices at cornerback the decision came down to b or c.

We don’t know yet how Long will perform in the regular season. We do know that he has played in 225 defensive snaps in two years, but nothing in those plays has given us reason to believe that the Rams are necessarily comfortable with the position yet. It’s just that with the current roster, LA seems to have no other choice.

It’s another answer that won’t be satisfying to many Rams fans until they see Allen prove in a game that he’s improved from his play as the starting center for nine games in 2019. Allen didn’t take a single snap in 2020 and we never got to see him appear in a preseason game, but McVay has insisted throughout training camp that he’s been a “stand out” and that LA is now comfortable at center.

They might have to be, as backup Coleman Shelton has little experience at the position: he switched to center as a junior at the University of Washington in 2016, then started 27 games there before going undrafted in 2018 and signing with the 49ers. He spent his rookie year on the Cardinals practice squad, then has spent the last two years with the Rams. But these last three preseason games were really his first opportunity to get into a game in two years and he’s only played 23 regular season offensive snaps in the NFL.

And yet, it was only a few months ago that Allen was with the third-string and Shelton was with the backups.

Interesting: Coleman Shelton taking 2s snaps at C with John Wolford; Noteboom at LT and second-year OL Anchrum at RT. Allen taking 3s so far. Depth here will be interesting to monitor.

Will the Rams continue to look for center help before the season?

There has been massive churn at the linebacker position under McVay and that continued this year with perhaps the biggest surprise being that the Rams actually found the money to re-sign Leonard Floyd. And that they finally wanted to keep a linebacker from leaving in free agency.

So we knew then that Floyd would be a starter, but who would win a competition between Micah Kiser, Young, Reeder, rookie Ernest Jones, and the returning Travin Howard at inside linebacker? And who would replace Samson Ebukam at outside linebacker after he signed with San Francisco?

It turns out that Reeder may have solidified himself as a starting inside linebacker at the tail end of 2020 and that Kiser’s fate may have also been sealed around that time; LA reluctantly released Kiser on Tuesday, ending his bid to be in that rotation.

Young has been the wire-to-wire starter alongside Reeder inside, while Hollins has also maintained his lead with the ones since the beginning of camp. Jones and Howard will be waiting for their turns behind them.

We knew that Cam Akers was safe from being cut, but not from injury. We knew that Fuller was going to be a starter again.

But Van Jefferson, Brycen Hopkins, Burgess, Terrell Lewis, and Tremayne Anchrum were all mostly afterthoughts during the 2020 season. That’s fine, it happens sometimes, but then they were also not heavily discussed throughout the offseason or much of training camp except when we were talking about how we weren’t talking about them.

Jefferson’s name came up a few times, but it turns out that his lack of playing time in the preseason was simply an indication that he’s going to have a major role in the offense this season.

Anchrum played well in the preseason and he’s listed as the third-string left tackle on the team website, having made the 53-man roster.

Hopkins and Lewis were the biggest questions and while both got reps in the preseason, neither stood out. But depth at tight end is a concern and Hopkins may just have a steep learning curve worth waiting for, while Lewis may just be the type who the team is okay with keeping around for 300 timely snaps this season.

But all of them made it.

(LB Clay Johnston, a seventh round pick by LA last year, made the Panthers 53-man roster; K Sam Sloman, was released by the Steelers.)

While I won’t say that it was more surprising than the Jared Goff trade, I will say that Snead then later dealing Brockers to the Detroit Lions certainly feels like it caught me just as off guard. To have some sort of buyer’s remorse one year into a three-year contract with a player who you drafted and already spent eight seasons with, it just doesn’t happen quite like that very often.

But Snead also had to make sure that all of his contract puzzle pieces would fit into the 2021 picture and the roster math must have told him that there was no other choice — and Brockers was able to sign a new three-year deal with $11 million guaranteed.

Those new pieces include Hoecht and Williams, two defensive linemen who will make $660,000 each if they stay on the roster for the entire season, which is a stark contrast from the contracts of Brockers and Morgan Fox, the outgoing free agent who got a two-year, $8.4 million deal with the Carolina Panthers.

Bobby Brown III’s cap hit comes in around $849,000, while Greg Gaines makes just over $1 million. Though the Rams must pay a $2.6 million dead money cap hit for Brockers, it’s still a lot less than what they would have had to pay with him and Fox.

How they will perform is anyone’s guess but not even Fox really turned it on until the end of his fourth season with the team. The Rams also know that having Aaron Donald means that you can take more risks with the players around him sometimes.

It’s unexpected, even for me, to write that three players replaced Reynolds, but that is kind of what seems to have happened. Though I would not consider Reynolds to be as significant of an offseason loss as Brandin Cooks one year before him, he did serve as LA’s number three wideout and number one deep threat in 2020. It’s what the Rams lacked in a deep threat that also somewhat led to his departure in free agency.

It’s difficult to project how much more deep passing the Rams will do with Matthew Stafford replacing Goff, but it absolutely has to be somewhere in the vicinity of more. A lot more. And I think that will make for more deep targets for Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, but is also what led to the signing of Jackson and the selection of Atwell in the second round of the draft.

Those two players make compete for deep targets throughout the season, and yet it’s Jefferson who might end up as the number three wideout. It seems that the team has been high on him for each of the last two training camps and perhaps the lack of buzz is because they’re even attempting to keep him as one of the best kept secrets headed into the season.

This certainly does not seem like it was the plan when the Rams drafted Brycen Hopkins in the fourth round a year ago. But there is a clear disconnect between the progress of Jefferson in that time and the progress of Hopkins, who is not likely to see the field very often for as long as Tyler Higbee and Mundt are both healthy.

Maybe that’s nothing to be concerned about, as the tight end position can be a difficult one to master at the NFL level. The fact that LA protected Hopkins over Kendall Blanton speaks loudly to their optimism, because Blanton seems to have potential too.

There is little chance that Mundt will see the 60 targets that Gerald Everett was getting over the last two years, perhaps not even half of that, but the team wasn’t rolling six-deep at receiver a year ago either.

I think these are all honest answers that many people would give, depending on when you were asking.

A couple of months ago, Allen was third on the depth chart and many fans expressed dismay over his roster spot not going to a draft pick or free agent signing. Now he is the starting center.

Seventh round picks should always be given the benefit of being known as a “long shot” but consider that this year was especially difficult to gauge with regards to the NFL draft. The full draft process has been re-organized over the last two years and many players missed games or entire seasons in 2020. And yet, all three of LA’s seventh round picks made the final roster, with Funk especially looking like a key player entering Week 1.

That means Jackson making it as an undrafted free agent was even less likely, while Reed, a practice squad pickup from the Jaguars a year ago, has established himself as a key special teams contributor.

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