Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Home SPORTS As injuries mount, meet the newest Rams...that used to be Rams

As injuries mount, meet the newest Rams…that used to be Rams

As they prepare for their NFC West opener against the Arizona Cardinals, the Rams on Thursday continued to make moves to strengthen a roster depleted by injuries and a suspension.

A day after signing running back Takkarist McKinley, the Rams signed tight end Kendall Blanton and defensive back Shaun Jolly to the roster and veteran running back Malcolm Brown to the practice squad.

Blanton and Brown have history with the Rams. Brown played for the team from 2015 to 2020 and Blanton from 2019 to 2021.

“Just excited to be back in this culture, this organization that I’ve been with for so long,” Brown said. “Emotion is the only word.”

The Rams suffered a series of injuries before and during their 31-27 victory over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday.

Edge runner Leonard Floyd played with a knee problem. Offensive lineman Tremayne Anchrum suffered a season-ending ankle injury and cornerback Troy Hill was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury.

Rookie cornerback Cobie Durant and fourth-year cornerback David Long suffered hamstring and groin injuries, respectively. And on Wednesday, the NFL suspended tight end Brycen Hopkins for three games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

The Rams signed McKinley off the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, reuniting the former first-round draft pick out of UCLA with defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, who coached him with the Atlanta Falcons.

In 2017, the Falcons selected McKinley 26th overall in the draft. However, the Falcons declined to exercise his fifth-year option after McKinley generated 16½ sacks in his first three seasons. In his final season with the Falcons, he had one sack in four games before being released midseason.

Kendall Blanton scored a touchdown last season against Tampa Bay in the NFC playoffs. The tight end re-signed with the Rams on Thursday.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

McKinley, 26, played last season for the Cleveland Browns and had 2 1/2 sacks in 11 games before suffering an Achilles tendon injury.

Ten months later, he practiced for the first time as a ram.

“It’s been a great ride, just to get back on the field, just to get to this point and be able to be back in an NFL locker room,” McKinley said, adding, “I’m just here to help.” as I can.”

Although Morris described his experience with McKinley as “rocky” at times, he said they “always stayed pretty close.” Morris said he never lost touch or connection with the player he mentored on and off the field.

“He’s a guy that I know can help us in a pass rush,” Morris said, “and he’s a guy that I think deserves a second chance.”

McKinley said he had a “closer than close” relationship with Morris.

“I’m grateful that we kept in touch over the years, not even on a football level, just on a personal level,” McKinley said. “He helped me with things, being a father, just life.

“So, I will be eternally grateful to Coach Raheem.”

Blanton, 26, was a key player for the Rams during last season’s Super Bowl. He caught seven passes for 75 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs before suffering a shoulder injury in the Super Bowl win over the Cincinnati Bengals, an opportunity that opened the door for Hopkins.

In August, when the roster was reduced to 53 players, the Rams released Blanton. The Washington Commanders claimed him off waivers, but later released him. Blanton signed with the Chiefs.

“He obviously knows the offense,” Rams tight end Tyler Higbee said. “So you can get here and be ready to go without having a huge learning curve. Thrilled to have him back.”

The 29-year-old Brown signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in the 2015 draft and was a solid backup for Todd Gurley and others for six seasons.

In 2020, Brown rushed for 419 yards and five touchdowns on 101 carries.

Before last season, he signed with the Miami Dolphins. Brown gained 125 yards and scored a touchdown on 33 carries in seven games before suffering a quadriceps injury.

Brown is once again the oldest in a running back position group that includes Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers.

“Malcolm is a professional’s professional,” offensive coordinator Liam Coen said. “He just does everything the right way, both on and off the field. He will be a great example for the pitch of our younger players.”

Veteran defensive lineman Aaron Donald is happy to have Brown back on the team.

“He’s a guy who understands what we’re doing here,” Donald said. “Been here, knows the environment. So adding it back to the mix is ​​going to be great.”

The Rams signed Jolly off the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad. He intercepted six passes in four seasons at Appalachian State.

Etc.

Durant, Long and receiver Van Jefferson (knee) did not practice, according to the Rams’ injury report. Safety Jordan Fuller (hamstring) was limited. … The Rams released linebacker Kier Thomas and running back Trey Ragas.

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