Having no choice but to lose a player expected to play a key role this season, the Rams made a somewhat surprising decision to part ways with another on Saturday.
Shortly after the Rams announced that tight end Kendall Blanton was among the five players granted waivers, coach Sean McVay said rookie offensive lineman Logan Bruss would be sidelined until 2023 with a knee injury he sustained during a preseason loss to the Houston Texans on Friday night.
Bruss suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
The Rams, aiming to bolster an offensive line in transition, used a third-round pick — their highest in the draft — to pick Bruss, who joined former Wisconsin linemen Rob Havenstein and David Edwards with the Rams.
“We obviously designed him with the confidence that he could be a guy who could potentially contribute for us this year,” McVay said.
After the Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, right guard Austin Corbett signed a free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers and left tackle Andrew Whitworth retired.
Bruss was considered an eventual replacement for Corbett as part of a line that included left tackle Joe Noteboom, left guard Edwards, center Brian Allen and right tackle Havenstein.
Coleman Shelton took over from first-team representatives on the right flank during training camp and appeared on track at that point to start the season. But Rams coaches predicted Bruss as a potential midseason replacement, so the versatile Shelton could be available at all three indoor positions.
Now offensive line coach Kevin Carberry needs to develop more depth for a row tasked with protecting veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford as the Rams seek to repeat themselves as Super Bowl champions, a feat they’ve had since the 2004 season was no longer achieved.
McVay said he was impressed with the “incredible progress” made by linemen AJ Jackson and Tremayne Anchrum. And fourth-year pro Bobby Evans has his first guard and tackle experience.
Bruss isn’t the only member of the rookie class to have surgery.
Outside linebacker Daniel Hardy suffered an ankle injury against the Texans and will undergo a procedure that will likely place him on injured reserve early in the season, McVay said.
The Rams signed Blanton as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He spent two seasons on the practice team and was then added to the squad for the 2021 season after Johnny Mundt suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Blanton played a key role, especially in the playoffs.
He caught two passes – including one for a touchdown – in a division round win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Blanton started in the Super Bowl for the injured Tyler Higbee and caught five passes before suffering a shoulder injury.
Higbee appears to be back to full strength following off-season knee surgery and the rise of Brycen Hopkins no doubt played a part in the decision to forgo Blanton.
Hopkins, a 2020 Purdue fourth-round draft pick, caught four passes in the Super Bowl. In two preseason games, he proved he can be an effective blocker. He caught six passes for 41 yards against the Texans.
When asked if the Rams gave up Blanton to make room for wide receivers like undrafted free agent Lance McCutcheon, McVay said no. The decision was made after evaluating what was optimal for offense.
“It’s really about how you use your best 11 players,” McVay said.
Running backs Raymond Calais and AJ Rose, receivers JJ Koski and defensive back Jairon McVea were other players dropped before Tuesday’s deadline to trim rosters to 80 players.
McVay said an early cut could allow players to be signed by other teams ahead of the final preseason games next weekend.
Squads must be reduced to 53 players by August 30th.
The Rams have Sunday off. They will resume practice on Monday and travel to Cincinnati on Tuesday to practice against the Bengals on Wednesday and Thursday. The Rams play the Bengals in their final preseason game on Saturday.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-08-20/rams-waive-kendall-blanton-lose-logan-bruss-to-injury Rams waive Kendall Blanton, lose Logan Bruss to injury