Rams camp preview: Five positions to watch

ST. LOUIS — The Rams get back to work later this week with the beginning of training camp, so we are taking a look at some things to keep an eye on at Rams Park.

We’ve looked at five veterans to watch and five rookies to watch and now here are five position battles to watch during training camp.

WIDE RECEIVER

The wide receiver group doesn’t look like it will have much intrigue in terms of who is likely to make the roster at the start of the regular season.

It would be a surprise if Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Austin Pettis, Brian Quick and Kenny Britt weren’t on the roster coming out of camp, with Stedman Bailey suspended for the first four weeks and not taking a roster spot for the season opener.

But which of those players emerge as the starters and go-to guys will be interesting to watch throughout camp.

The only new player is Britt, but he’s the most intriguing as a young veteran with the physical tools to make a big impact. What will we see from Austin in his second season and from Givens and Quick in their third? Can Pettis become a bigger contributor?

There are plenty of questions with this group.

LINEBACKER

James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree are starters.

The Rams re-signed Jo-Lonn Dunbar to man the third linebacker spot, but his recent arrest in Miami may open the door for special teams standout Ray Ray Armstrong to take a step forward in his second season.

NICKEL CORNERBACK

The Rams traded up in the second round of the draft to select Lamarcus Joyner to be a nickel cornerback, but in OTAs it was Brandon McGee who saw most of the action at that spot with the starting defense.

McGee didn’t make much of an impact as a rookie in 2013 but earned some praise from Jeff Fisher for his improvement during OTAs.

The Rams are going into training camp with two third-year players, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, set as starters at cornerback. But behind those guys will be youngsters like McGee, Joyner, E.J. Gaines and undrafted guys like Greg Reid and Marcus Roberson.

There will be plenty of opportunities for the young players to step up.

SAFETY

There was plenty of talk about the Rams going after a safety early in the draft but a run on the position late in the first round may have taken some of their top targets off the board.

The Rams grabbed St. Louis native Maurice Alexander in the fourth round but the rookie safety wasn’t able to get out on the field and show what he could do during OTAS because of a knee issue.

T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod’s starting safety spots are probably safe going into training camp, but if Alexander can get up to speed quickly with the defense he’ll have a chance to earn some playing time.

THIRD QUARTERBACK

When the Rams took Garrett Gilbert in the sixth round, he became the first quarterback drafted by the team since Sam Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick in 2010. But that doesn’t mean the SMU product is guaranteed a roster spot coming out of training camp.

Gilbert will battle with Austin Davis for the No. 3 quarterback position but will also have to prove that he is worthy of a roster spot.

The Rams only had one quarterback, Kellen Clemens, on the roster last season when Bradford went down with his knee injury. Then they had to scramble to add Davis and veteran Brady Quinn, but neither appeared in a game for St. Louis in 2013.

If Gilbert doesn’t show enough in training camp, the Rams could cut him and try to add him to the practice squad after clearing waivers.

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com

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