Break out the sunscreen, get the sharpies ready, and overreact to everything because Rams training camp is here! Everyone is in half-pads and many are in a battle for playing time, one such battle being at the safety position. The two contenders are Taylor Rapp and Terrell Burgess. It’s a loser leaves town match that Lucious Sweet would’ve been proud to promote. However, this battle will resume one year from now as the safety position is in a state of flux. But for now, let’s break down the pros and cons of each contender.
The incumbent starter has an odd standing with fans. In his career, he’s got 238 tackles, 17 pass deflections, 1.5 sacks, and two fumble recoveries. He’s especially valuable in run defense as he’s a terrific tackle, but the problem comes in as a pass defender. While he is adept at being in the right place at the right time in terms of getting picks he’s a liability in coverage as offenses routinely pick on him and unfortunately, he constantly gets roasted Jeff Ross style by opposing receivers.
The other issue that occurs with him is his frequent injuries. He’s missed a lot of time over his career and was unavailable until the Super Bowl. Yes, he had seven tackles but his availability is going to factor in whether or not the Rams bring him back. He’s only 24 years old so it’s possible these are fluky injuries and not something that will hound him his entire career but it’s worth monitoring.
Rapp might have a slightly more robust resume but Burgess might have more upside. Might is the operative word as he only played seven games in his rookie season prior to breaking his ankle. He was starting to come on having 18 tackles and a pass deflection. He along with fellow rookie Jordan Fuller were true uncut gems being drafted in the fourth and sixth round respectfully.
In his second season, he took a long time to come back to the field. The curious thing is that it didn’t seem to be because of physical ability. Yes, there was a lot of time missed during training camp but there was a sense that he’d fallen out of favor with the coaching staff which is supported by the fact that as the Fuller, Rapp, and others went down, Nick Scott (more on him later) was getting more snaps.
Was it the team looking to ease him back in so they can have him fresher for the playoffs? Apparently not, as he had limited snaps in the first three rounds before receiving no snaps in the NFC Championship or the Super Bowl. He still proved to be an adept tackler but he didn’t make much of an impact in coverage. This is an absolutely pivotal training camp for him because he could either rebound and prove last year was a fluke or he could face a scenario where he doesn’t make the roster.
Nick Scott and Others
Nick Scott is an interesting case. It appeared the Rams had let him walk to allow for the Cooper Kupp extension but then he came back for a team-friendly deal. Scott became a playoff hero culminating in his NFC Championship clinching pick against Jimmy Garoppolo.
He’s a solid tackler and like Rapp is adept at being in the right place at the right time. He’s also a utility player so he can play wherever on the field and is more of a backup to Fuller but he’s someone to watch.
The Rams could want cap relief and opt to ride with Fuller and have Scott split snaps with whomever they cut between Burgess and Rapp. Scott played the third most snaps as a safety on the Rams last season behind Rapp and Fuller. The Rams also spent a ton of draft capital (believe it or not. They had some) on safeties. This makes absolute sense as they had to dig Eric Weddle out of the ground to fill the void left by Fuller.
The Rams have a lot of young talent particularly Quentin Lake, Russ Yeast, and Jake Gervase. Like with Fuller and Burgess there could be an uncut gem that emerges from one of these and that could further complicate this position battle. Even if one of the two wins the battle both could be gone next year if one of the rookies emerges as they are going to be WAY cheaper no matter who remains.
Fuller is likely the higher priority if the Rams are to resign a safety so there is a ton of competition to be had. Whatever the outcome the Rams have made rebuilding the safety position a priority and now they have a lot of flexibility. Rapp vs Burgess might be the main event but there are plenty of undercard matches that could steal the show.