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training camp: 6 position battles to watch – Rams Wire

Training camps are right around the corner in the NFL, which means we’ll soon have football on our television screens again. It seems like forever ago that the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl, but the reigning champions have their sights set on defending their title in 2022.
Throughout the offseason, the Rams made a flurry of moves, most notably adding Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner. While those two guys aren’t at risk of having limited playing time in the upcoming season, there will be a handful of position battles taking place at training camp for Los Angeles.
With mere days until training camp begins for the Rams, let’s take a look at six training camp battles that fans should keep close tabs on.
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Let’s get things started with an electric punter battle (yes, punters are people too). Johnny Hekker was released by the Rams earlier this offseason after spending 10 seasons with the organization, cementing himself as one of the premier punters in the NFL during that span.
Following Hekker’s release, Los Angeles signed Riley Dixon and inked a deal with undrafted rookie Cameron Dicker to compete for the vacant punter job. Dixon has six years of experience in the NFL (two with the Denver Broncos, four with the New York Giants), while Dicker was a highly regarded kicker entering the 2022 NFL draft.
Despite spending most of his time placekicking in college at Texas, Dicker did some punting in his final two years at the collegiate level. With Matt Gay holding down the kicker spot, it will be interesting to see how things shake out at the punter position between Dixon and Dicker at training camp, especially with the team looking to fill the big shoes left behind by Hekker.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Rams fans are accustomed to having to wait for the franchise to make their first selection in drafts in recent years due to them leaning on proven players instead of taking a chance on rookies in earlier rounds. The first pick that Los Angeles made in this year’s draft was Logan Bruss out of Wisconsin with the 104th overall pick in the third round.
Even though Bruss has the least amount of experience of the bunch, he’s expected to compete for the starting right guard spot alongside Tremayne Anchrum Jr. and Bobby Evans after Austin Corbett departed in free agency. If I were to make a guess, the battle will come down to either Bruss or Anchrum when it’s all said and done.
The Rams’ offensive line will undergo a few alterations from a season ago, with Andrew Whitworth retiring and Corbett leaving for the Carolina Panthers in free agency. Joseph Noteboom is locked into the starting left tackle position to replace Whitworth and only time will tell if it will be Bruss, Anchrum, or Evans starting next to Rob Havenstein on the right side of the offensive line in 2022.
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
To some people, it may seem like a lock that Taylor Rapp will start at strong safety again for the Rams in 2022. But with Los Angeles adding plenty of defensive backs in recent drafts, and the emergence of Nick Scott at the end of last season, Rapp’s starting job is far from a guarantee.
When Rapp went down with an injury that sidelined him for the first three postseason games for the Rams last season, Scott stepped into the starting lineup. Scott would perform admirably in his place, posting 14 combined tackles, three pass breakups, and an interception on Tom Brady in the divisional round that prevented the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from scoring more points in the first half.
Also, Scott proved that he can be relied upon in a starting role, logging 100 percent of the defensive snaps for the Rams in the team’s four playoff games (including the Super Bowl). We’ve seen Rapp hold down the starting job at strong safety — when he’s healthy — in recent years, but Scott could perform well enough during training camp to unseat him entering the 2022 campaign.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Higbee is still recovering from a knee injury that prevented him from suiting up in the Super Bowl versus the Bengals back in February. But once he’s fully recovered, Higbee figures to return to being the No. 1 tight end for Matthew Stafford to target in 2022.
Amid Higbee’s absence in the final two playoff contests last season, Kendall Blanton took on a larger role in the offense. Blanton responded by hauling in five passes for 57 yards in the NFC title game against the San Francisco 49ers, including a couple of vital receptions that helped the Rams advance to the Super Bowl, while he didn’t receive a single target against the Bengals.
Even with his quiet performance in the Super Bowl, Blanton should have the edge over Brycen Hopkins and Jacob Harris to be the team’s No. 2 tight end in 2022. That being said, the Rams did spend fourth-round picks on Hopkins and Harris in recent drafts, so they’ll likely get plenty of opportunities to compete with Blanton in training camp.
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Jalen Ramsey is still the best cornerback in the NFL and the Rams were able to acquire Troy Hill during the 2022 NFL draft, giving the team a familiar face at cornerback. Darious Williams is no longer with the organization, so Ramsey and Hill figure to be penned in for the top two spots at cornerback.
Behind Ramsey and Hill, the Rams have a plethora of defensive backs that could compete for the No. 3 spot. Robert Rochell is entering his second year, David Long Jr. was the nickel cornerback to begin last season, Decobie Durant was the team’s fourth-round selection in this year’s draft, and Derion Kendrick was selected in the sixth round of this year’s draft.
Even though Long has the most experience of the group, I’d imagine the Rams want to see what they have in the younger guys in Rochell, Durant, and Kendrick. If you were to tell me that you’re from the future and that one of the rookies will win the No. 3 spot on the depth chart at cornerback, I wouldn’t be shocked one bit.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The wide receiver position is not one that lacks talent for the Rams entering the 2022 season. Cooper Kupp is returning following his historic season in 2021, Robinson should become a formidable No. 2 option alongside Kupp, and Van Jefferson should still possess a decent-sized role in the team’s aerial attack.
With the Rams needing depth options behind those three guys, Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek will compete for snaps in their sophomore campaigns. It was a disappointing rookie season for Atwell, especially as a second-round pick, as he failed to record a single statistic on offense.
Meanwhile, Skowronek saw an increased role in the latter portion of last season when Robert Woods was ruled out for the rest of the season. Skowronek struggled with drops during his time on the field, and with his fellow second-year teammate receiving praise throughout the offseason, I’d be shocked if Atwell isn’t the No. 4 wideout on the depth chart this year, though, he’ll have to earn it during training camp.
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