Lance McCutcheon impresses: Where Rams’ roster stands after preseason opener

The Rams called first, so Lance McCutcheon didn’t wait for another opportunity as an undrafted free agent.

The former Montana State receiver joined a defending Super Bowl champion team that included star receiver Cooper Kupp, new signing Allen Robinson and third-year pro Van Jefferson. He knew creating the squad would be a challenge.

“Come from Montana State, naughty free agent guy, just come here and work in silence,” McCutcheon said of his approach. “Just come here, work, take the opportunity if I get the chance and just keep going.

“Keep building those opportunities and use them on matchdays.”

McCutcheon capitalized in Saturday night’s 29-22 preseason win over the Chargers. He scored on passing plays from 60 and 11 yards and a two-point conversion pass.

The 6-foot-3, 202-pound McCutcheon’s long touchdown came after he passed two muscled defenders to make a catch and then ran about 30 yards to the end zone.

“We talked about it, and he was adamant, ‘If it gets tight, just give me a jump ball and I’ll make a game,'” said quarterback Bryce Perkins. “I made great games at camp so I felt comfortable giving him those opportunities and I knew if he fought for it like he did he would do a great job and he’s a great player for sure. “

McCutcheon, who averaged 19 yards per catch in college, has made an impression since the Rams’ offseason program, coach Sean McVay said.

Rams wide receiver Lance McCutcheon catches a pass against the Chargers on Saturday.

Rams wide receiver Lance McCutcheon catches a pass against the Chargers on Saturday.

(Jeff Lewis/Associated Press)

“There are certain young guys that just have that right look in their eyes — where you can see they’re mature beyond their years,” McVay said, adding, “He just has these kinds of behaviors that you say he’s got : ‘Hey, this guy, he’s going to find out.’ ”

McCutcheon credits Kupp, Robinson, and the other recipients with helping him develop it.

“I’m behind it [Robinson] in the briefing room and he always has something to teach me,” McCutcheon said. “He and Cooper. They are geniuses when it comes to this game.”

McCutcheon made an early bid to be included in the 53-man roster that will be determined after the third preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Rams will trim the roster to 85 by Tuesday, McVay said.

Injuries and other issues could affect initial roster decisions, but here’s a look at what the 53-man roster could look like:

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is on the sidelines.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford stands on the sidelines during Saturday’s preseason game against the Chargers at SoFi Stadium.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Quarterbacks: Matthew Stafford, John Wolford, Bryce Perkins

Stafford was restricted from training camp with tendinitis in his right elbow, but the 14-year pro will be ready for the opener on September 8 against the Buffalo Bills and will almost certainly play through pain throughout the season. McVay is confident Wolford can step in and run the offense if Stafford is sidelined. Perkins played well in the 2021 preseason and made the opening list because the Rams feared another team would sign him if he was released. He can force her hand again this season, particularly with Stafford’s stubborn elbow raising concerns.

Running backs: Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Jake Funk, and Kyren Williams

Akers is back to full strength after being sidelined for almost the entire 2021 season with an Achilles injury. He returned for the season finals and playoffs but said he wasn’t happy with his performance. Henderson is in the final year of his rookie contract and he is determined to show that durability issues are not an issue. Williams, a fifth-round draft pick from Notre Dame, suffered a fractured foot during off-season practice and was activated from the non-physically able player list near the end of training camp.

Wide receiver: Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell, Brandon Powell, Jacob Harris

Kupp, Robinson and Jefferson are the starters, although Jefferson’s status for the opener is undecided as he recovers from a second knee surgery in five months. Skowronek gained experience last season. Atwell has to be the deep threat the Rams envisioned when they drafted him in the second round in 2021. Powell is primarily the punt returner, and the 6-6 Harris has been plagued with injuries. When physically fit he plays on special teams and would present an enticing option for McVay and Stafford.

Tight Ends: Tyler Higbee, Kendall Blanton, Brycen Hopkins

Higbee is the proven veteran, Blanton made an appearance in the playoffs, and Hopkins made a big leap in the Super Bowl.

Offensive Linemen: Joe Noteboom, David Edwards, Brian Allen, Coleman Shelton, Rob Havenstein, Logan Bruss, AJ Jackson, Bobby Evans, Tremayne Anchrum

The Rams don’t want to rush Bruss, so the versatile Shelton could start on the right. Jackson seems on track to be the swing tackle.

Defensive Linemen: Aaron Donald, Greg Gaines, A’Shawn Robinson, Marquise Copeland, Michael Hoecht

Donald is a threat from every angle. Gaines and Robinson are tough in the middle. Copeland played well last season and Bobby Brown III’s suspension opens the door for Hoecht.

Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive end Aaron Donald walk during a practice session in June.

Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner (left) and defensive end Aaron Donald run during a practice session in June.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Inside linebackers: Bobby Wagner, Ernest Jones, Travin Howard, and Christian Rozeboom

Wagner is a six-time All-Pro and Jones is a returning starter. Howard is recovering from abdominal surgery so special teams mainstays Rozeboom, Jake Hummel or Jake Gervase could secure roles.

External Linebackers: Leonard Floyd, Justin Hollins, Terrell Lewis, Daniel Hardy

Floyd starts on one side, and Hollins and Lewis showed last season they can be productive on the other side. Chris Garrett’s injury problems left him on the bladder.

Cornerbacks: Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill, David Long, Robert Rochell, Decobie Durant, Derion Kendrick

Ramsey is the star, Hill is back after a season in Cleveland, and Long and Rochell have starting experience. Rookies Durant and Kendrick appear poised to contribute.

Collateral: Jordan Fuller, Nick Scott, Taylor Rapp, Terrell Burgess, Quentin Lake

Lake was on the non-physically able player list during training camp, but UCLA’s sixth-round pick can add depth to a veterans’ group.

gambler: Riley Dixon

Seventh-year pro replaces Johnny Hekker.

foosball: MattGay

After the Pro Bowl season when he made 32 of 34 field goal attempts.

long snapper: Matthew Orzech

Replaced veteran Jake McQuaide last season and did a solid job.

Etc.

The Rams are awaiting MRI results for defenseman Bobby Brown III, who suffered an unspecified lower leg injury against the Chargers. … McVay said he hasn’t decided yet whether rookie running back Kyren Williams will play against the Houston Texans on Friday night or during the preseason. Williams, who sustained a broken foot during off-season training, was dropped from the PUP roster near the end of training camp.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-08-14/rams-roster-assessment-lance-mccutcheon-preseason-week-1 Lance McCutcheon impresses: Where Rams’ roster stands after preseason opener

Emma Bowman

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