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

The Rams called first, so Lance McCutcheon did not 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 addition Allen Robinson and third-year pro Van Jefferson among others. He knew making the roster would be a challenge.

“Coming from Montana State, an undrafted free agent guy, just come out here and work in silence,” McCutcheon said of his approach. “Just come out here, working, take advantage when I’m given the opportunity and just keep going.

“Keep building up those opportunities and take advantage on game days.”

McCutcheon capitalized during Saturday night’s 29-22 preseason victory over the Chargers. He scored on pass plays of 60 and 11 yards and a two-point conversion pass.

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

“We talked about it, and he was adamant about it: ‘If it’s close, just give me a jump ball and I’ll make a play,’ ” quarterback Bryce Perkins said. “Made great plays in camp, so I felt comfortable giving him those opportunities, and I knew he was going to do a great job at competing for it like he did and he’s a great player for sure.”

McCutcheon, who averaged 19 yards per catch in college, had been making an impression since the Rams offseason program, coach Sean McVay said.

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

(Jeff Lewis / Associated Press)

“There’s certain young guys that just have that right look in their eye — where you can see they’re mature beyond their years,” McVay said, adding, “He’s just got one of those demeanors that you’re saying, ‘Hey, this guy, he’s a going to figure it out.’ ”

McCutcheon credits Kupp, Robinson and the other receivers for helping him develop.

“I sit behind [Robinson] in the meeting room and he always has something to coach me on,” McCutcheon said. “Him and Cooper. They’re geniuses when it comes to this game.”

McCutcheon made an early bid for inclusion on the 53-man roster that will be set 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 is a look at what the 53-man roster could look like:

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford stands on the sideline.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford stands on the sideline 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 limited in training camp because of right elbow tendinitis, but the 14th-year pro will be ready for the Sept. 8 opener against the Buffalo Bills and will almost certainly play through pain during the season. McVay has confidence that Wolford can step in and run the offense if Stafford is sidelined. Perkins played well during the 2021 preseason and made the opening roster because the Rams feared another team would sign him if he was released. He can force their hand again this season, especially with Stafford’s balky elbow a concern.

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

Akers is back to full strength after being sidelined nearly all of the 2021 season because of an Achilles injury. He returned for the season finale and the playoffs, but he has said he was not satisfied with his performance. Henderson is in the final year of his rookie contract, and he is determined to show that durability questions are not an issue. Williams, a fifth-round draft pick from Notre Dame, suffered a broken foot during offseason workouts and was activated from the physically unable to perform list near the end of training camp.

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

Kupp, Robinson and Jefferson are the starters, though Jefferson’s status for the opener is undetermined as he recovers from a second knee operation in five months. Skowronek got experience last season. Atwell needs to be the deep threat the Rams envisioned when they drafted him in the second round in 2021. Powell is mainly the punt returner, and the 6-6 Harris has been plagued by injuries. If physically sound, he plays on special teams and would give McVay and Stafford an enticing option.

Tight ends: Tyler Higbee, Kendall Blanton, Brycen Hopkins

Higbee is the proven veteran, Blanton stepped up in the playoffs and Hopkins made a giant leap in the Super Bowl.

Offensive linemen: Joe Noteboom, David Edwards, Brian Allen, Coleman Shelton, Rob Havenstein, Logan Bruss, A.J. Jackson, Bobby Evans, Tremayne Anchrum

The Rams don’t want to rush Bruss, so the versatile Shelton could start at right guard. Jackson appears 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 all angles. 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 run during a practice drill in June.

Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner, left, and defensive end Aaron Donald run during a practice drill in June.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

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

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

Outside 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. Chris Garrett’s injury woes put him on the bubble.

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 ready to contribute.

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

Lake was on the physically-unable-to-perform list during training camp, but the sixth-round pick from UCLA can add depth to a veteran group.

Punter: Riley Dixon

Seventh-year pro replaces Johnny Hekker.

Kicker: Matt Gay

Coming off Pro Bowl season, when he made 32 of 34 field-goal attempts.

Long-snapper: Matthew Orzech

Replaced veteran Jake McQuaide last season and did solid job.

Etc.

The Rams are awaiting MRI results for defensive lineman Bobby Brown III, who suffered an unspecified lower leg injury against the Chargers. … McVay said he has not determined if rookie running back Kyren Williams will play Friday night against the Houston Texans or during the preseason. Williams, who suffered a broken foot during offseason workouts, came off the PUP list near the end of training camp.

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