Looking outside the Rams: Players on the Bubble

Howard Balzer, via his Twitter account, dropped two mini-bombshells on Rams fans after last night’s game:

Rams DT Adam Carriker injured shoulder Thursday night. He’s an injury waiting to happen. Is he next on the list after Tye Hill trade?
Carriker’s injury may be bad. Rams scouring the waiver wire for running backs. Gado injury might be torn cartilage in ribs. Presser at 4:30.

And the latest news from Jim Thomas at the P-D: Carriker needs surgery, could be season-ending.

These injuries shouldn’t come as much surprise, given both players’ history in the training room. But given this news and our look at the players potentially on the cutdown list, depth is now a serious concern in a few position groups: Defensive Tackle, Running Back (blocking ability a plus), and Linebacker. With that in mind, here’s a look at a few players that either are available now, or are on the bubble with their respective teams.

Defensive Tackles
Nick Hayden — Carolina Panthers (bubble). I look toward Carolina for defensive front seven players, taking advantage of the Ken Flajole connection, and Hayden’s name immediately popped out. Here’s a quote from his scouting report:

Nick Hayden had himself a good combine, impressing scouts with his attitude and work ethic as much as his athletic ability. Hayden performed well, running a 5.14 in the 40 and showing off a 27 inch vertical leap. These numbers display pretty good athleticism for a big defensive tackle. Hayden also proved he had the strength to take on NFL lineman with his 34 reps on the bench press.

He fell to the sixth round, and did not do much with the Panthers last season, but could be a guy that fits the Spagnuolo “strong, high-motor” mold.

Willie Williams — free agent (cut by Eagles). Not much here, except that he was a Rams practice-squad guy last season before Philadelphia snapped him up during camp. Big guy.

Blocking/Running Backs
TJ Duckett — free agent. Why would the Seahawks’ trash become our treasure? For one, Duckett absolutely blew us up last year, so there’s little doubt in Rams land about his freshness. For another, Duckett spent the entire camp and preseason with one of our most critical opponents, and would be a great source of game-planning intelligence. And finally, he has always run in a rotation or as a backup, and has never groused about his role. He has short-yardage ability and blocking ability, and may be on Devaney’s radar from their days together in Atlanta.

Warrick Dunn — free agent. Not so much a blocker, but still fresh-legged for a veteran, and an upgrade in the “danger” factor from anyone below SJ on the depth chart. A veteran who has shown he can run under any scheme, any circumstance, he would fit in and contribute quickly. Also known as a good citizen who would certainly pass any of Spagnuolo’s Four Pillars tests. Again, like Duckett, the Atlanta/Devaney connection is there.

Casey Cramer — released from Tennessee Titans. Cramer caught on with the Dophins’ power running team last season, and was seen as a potential fit in Tennessee, another team who does very well what the Rams are trying to do, in terms of power running and pass protection.

Derrick Brooks — free agent. When needy defenses like the Saints and Raiders work you out, and then turn you down, it’s hard to imagine that you’ve got much left in the tank. Still, it might be worth a call from the Rams. He was always one of the smartest players on the field, and could help coach up Laurinaitis as much as any contribution off the bench.

Jarvis Moss — Denver Broncos, on the bubble. Not a pure linebacker, but an edge rusher and disruptive player in the Demarcus Ware mold who could be lined up in a number of ways, Moss has been working hard to restore his reputation after an ignominious start to his NFL career, and an even worse start to this year’s camp. Moss is a player that we looked at in depth earlier this summer, and are still following form the sidelines.

I hope to add to this list in the coming days, but there are some intriguing possibilities here to say the least.