Rams Training Camp: Redemption And Resurrection – The 4 Most Intriguing Players To Watch

Rams training camp is just a few days away. It's a chance for backups to break out and starters to prove they still got it here is a look at 4 of those players.

LA Rams Edge Rusher Chris Garrett Heads Into Rams Training Camp Higher On The Depth Chart Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams
LA Rams Edge Rusher Chris Garrett Makes A Move Against Broncos Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams

Rams Training Camp Player to Watch

Darrell Henderson

The whole of the Rams running back room will be interesting to watch during Rams training camp, which starts toward the end of July. Cam Akers is being carefully worked back into the fold after his torn Achilles. Kyren Williams was taking a lot of reps with the first team at spring practices, but he finished off those sessions in a medical boot. Jake Funk was also working with the first team, as well, but he is coming off a season-ending injury of his own. Funk was drafted in 2020 and brought with him a list of reparative surgeries. Darrell Henderson didn’t practice at OTA’s or minicamps as he and the Rams continue to manage his health.

How Henderson is used during the Rams training camp may offer some insight into what the Rams are thinking for his future role on the team and how they plan to use the position this season.

Henderson’s availability has been his biggest concern, he has missed time in every season due to injury and has played in only one playoff game of the six that the Rams have played in since 2019, the year he was drafted.

In the one playoff game he did play in, the Super Bowl, he had a huge 25-yard reception that went on to set up the Rams second touchdown and was the Rams second-longest pass of the game

He may have never been intended to be an every-down back, but even a rotational player needs to be healthy enough to contribute in those certain situations that the team is looking for their contribution. Obviously, in the Super Bowl, the Rams looked to Henderson and he was able to answer the call, but that just hasn’t been the case enough times.

Where Henderson found a new niche on the offense was in pass protection. Henderson had some huge blocks that allowed Matthew Stafford to make plays. Per PFF, in his first two seasons, he was in pass protection 30 times. Last season, it was 46 times and was graded by PFF a 79.1. That is 5th best among running back who had 45 or more snaps in pass protection. But as good as he was, as the season wore on his usage dropped. 35 of those 46 snaps came in the first eight games. Blocking edge rushers takes a toll on the body. The Rams lacked depth at that point and couldn’t risk injury to Henderson.

Drafting Williams was the first signal that the Rams may be looking to move on from Henderson. There are two things that scouts noted about William’s play at Notre Dame, he is great in pass protection and his ability to catch the ball. How this fits in perfectly with the Rams is their success running out of empty sets and in-play action. This is something new for the Rams that Stafford allows them to do. So the Rams went out and drafted a running back that could enhance these plays. Despite his current injury, Williams has been highly durable. If that trend continues Henderson could be replaced.

Henderson is also in the last year of his rookie contract. Henderson will likely remain relatively cheap, but it will likely make more sense to move on from Henderson than keep him as a depth piece.

Keeping an eye on his involvement at the Rams training camp will start to reveal his future on the team. There aren’t expected to be many open competitions at Rams training camp, but this could be one of them.

Rams Training Camp Player to Watch

Chris Garrett

Of the key departures from the Rams this season, Von Miller often tops the list. But before his addition, the Rams pass rush was having a very good season. A lesser talked about departure, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, was a big reason for that. He had the best season of his career with 21 pressures, three sacks, and 15 hurries, per PFF. If there is a testament to the Rams ability to turn raw talent drafted in the late rounds, Okoronkwo is one of many.

Chris Garrett, the former Concordia Cobber, enters his second season now fourth on the outside linebacker depth chart. Fourth on an NFL depth chart is a long way from 252nd in the draft and his small school in Minnesota, but the good news is he is an athletic freak and he dominated the likes of Upper Iowa and Minot State.

Garrett came into the league rawer than Okoronkwo, who attended a university that is a little more known for football than Garrett’s alma mater. Another factor that went into Garrett’s rawness was missing his senior season due to cancelations surrounding COVID-19. This was something he noted during a press conference before last season, saying, “You know the biggest thing it wasn’t that Saint Paul’s a small school. It was more that I missed the 2020 season.”

But he went on to say how important Rams training camp has been in his development. “Coach was saying I’ve been slowly getting better been doing it against the twos and the ones and that really gave me confidence. I know that those guys, we push each other like crazy in practice. So that’s the biggest thing..”

With Okoronkwo’s departure, the prospect of Garrett seeing much more playing time has become much more real. So the importance of his development is a heightened priority. Terrell Lewis (3rd on the depth chart) has been a regular visitor to the injury list and Justin Hollins missed a big chunk of last year with a pectoral tear.

We have yet to see Garrett’s progress in a real NFL setting. He only played four defensive snaps last season. He had a very impressive showing against the Raiders in the preseason. This is not nothing, but the preseason is not the true test.

Since not seeing much from Garrett since the preseason, it is hard to tell how he has progressed and developed. Rams training camp should shed some very important light on that.

Rams Training Camp Player to Watch

Tutu Atwell

I don’t have a lot in common with many NFL players, but with Tutu Atwell, I do! I am the same height and about the same weight. So sort of by default I feel compelled to root for the guy. It’s the same reason I root for guys older than me. It proves that my dreams of playing in the NFL are still alive. (I’m 39. There are three current NFL players that aren’t special teamers that are older than me. Whatever. One is the greatest QB of all time. Put me in coach!)

So it was really nice to see that he has seemed to found his sea legs. During OTA’s and minicamps this spring, Atwell looked more confident and comfortable with the playbook. He was catching everything that was thrown his way and he also seemed healthy. Most of all, he still has eye-popping speed. It’s something you have to see in person. All of this has garnered praise from coaches, teammates, and media alike heading into Rams training camp.

Am I ready to say that Atwell is poised for a breakout season? Not quite yet, but if this continues on through Rams training camp this season, I will be confident that his role on the 2022 Rams will be far greater than his rookie season.

Of course, that season was abbreviated by injury. Which is the larger task that Atwell will have to tackle this season; proving that little guys can take the licks of a long NFL season (and post-season). He didn’t seem to have put on any weight, which was something the Rams wanted to see. Adding muscle will help prevent injury and for that reason was something the Rams wanted to see happen last season. It’s hard to imagine that he could add a discernable amount in the few weeks between minicamp and Rams training camp, but it is a question to ask.

Another thing to learn at Rams training camp will be what his role on the team may look like. It is far from defined. Given his skill set, the easiest identifiable function would be a return specialist. But that definitely will test his fortitude. Also, Brandon Powell made a very compelling case for that roster spot.

Ben Skowronek played with the first team during spring practices, while Atwell remained with the second team. There is also a good chance that the Rams will re-sign Odell Beckham Jr. Regardless of when the Beckham deal gets done, he won’t be on the field for Rams training camp. So as full as that room may get, Atwell will have plenty of reps during Rams training camp. It will also give him a chance to impress and work his way up into more playing time.

Rams Training Camp Player to Watch

Bobby Brown

Similar to Garrett, Bobby Brown III has worked his way up the depth chart due to free agency departures. In this case, it was Sebastian Joseph-Day’s departure. He, also similarly, hardly played in the regular season last year. A majority of his snaps came in blowouts against Houston and Jacksonville. What makes him intriguing at Rams training camp is his proximity to a starting role on the defensive line. He very well could be A’Shawn Robinson’s replacement, if the Rams don’t pursue him in free agency after this season and in a grander view could be the player asked to step into Aaron Donald’s role when he decides to hang it up.

Will Brown be the next Aaron Donald? No, unfortunately, there will never be another AD. But the Rams do have to look to the future. Given how little resources the Rams have dedicated to the position group, Brown’s development is very important to this season and moving forward. We will get our first real glance at Rams training camp

Greg Gaines is the perfect example of how quickly the ramp-up can be in a room like the Ram’s defensive line room. He went from 237 snaps in 2020 to 1,000 snaps and starting in the Super Bowl the very next season. Not only that but, when Joseph-Day went down with an injury, Gaines was prepared.

In reality, that could be Brown’s trajectory. And Rams training camp will help shed light on where he is in his development.

LA Rams Edge Rusher Chris Garrett Heads Into Rams Training Camp Higher On The Depth Chart Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams
LA Rams Edge Rusher Chris Garrett Makes A Move Against Broncos Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams