Rams waive Kendall Blanton, lose Logan Bruss to injury

Rams had no choice but to lose a player expected to play a key role this season, and on Saturday they made the somewhat surprising decision to part ways with another.

Shortly after the Rams announced that tight end Kendall Blanton was one of the five players placed on exemption, coach Sean McVay says the rookie offensive lineman Logan Bruss would be sidelined until 2023 due to a knee injury sustained during a preseason loss to the Houston Texans Friday night.

Bruss suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

The Rams, aiming to fortify a transitioning offensive line, used a third-round pick — their highest in the draft — to select Bruss, who joined other former Wisconsin linemen. Rob Havenstein and David Edwards with the Rams.

“We obviously drafted him with confidence that he could be a guy who could potentially contribute for us this year,” McVay said.

After the Rams’ victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, the right guard Austin Corbett signed a free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers and left tackle Andrew Whitworth retired.

Bruss was considered Corbett’s eventual successor as part of a line that included left tackle Joe Noteboom, left guard Edwards, center Brian Allen and right tackle Havenstein.

Coleman Shelton took first-team representatives to right guard during training camp and appeared on track to start the season there. But Rams coaches slated Bruss as a potential mid-season replacement, allowing the versatile Shelton to be available at all three inside line positions.

Rams offensive lineman Logan Bruss (60) participates in a practice drill July 30, 2022 in Irvine.

Rams rookie offensive lineman Logan Bruss (60) participates in practice on July 30. He suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee in Friday night’s preseason loss to Houston.

(Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

Now offensive line coach Kevin Carberry must develop more depth for line tasked with protecting veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford as the Rams attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions, a feat not accomplished since the 2004 season.

McVay said he was impressed with the “incredible progress” made by linemen AJ Jackson and Tremayne Anchrum. And fourth-year pro Bobby Evans has starting experience at guard and tackle.

Bruss isn’t the only member of the rookie class to undergo surgery.

outside linebacker Daniel Hardy suffered an ankle injury against the Texans and will undergo a procedure that will likely put him on injured reserve to start the season, McVay said.

The Rams signed Blanton as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He spent two seasons on the practice squad, then was elevated to the roster in the 2021 season after Johnny Mundt suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Blanton played a key role, especially in the playoffs.

He caught two assists – including one for a touchdown – in a Divisional Round victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Start instead of injured Tyler Higbee at the Super Bowl, Blanton caught five passes before injuring his shoulder.

Higbee appears to be back in full force after offseason knee surgery, and by Brycen Hopkins the ascent no doubt factored into the decision to forfeit Blanton.

Hopkins, a 2020 fourth-round draft pick from Purdue, caught four assists in the Super Bowl. In two preseason games, he showed he could be an effective blocker. He caught six passes for 41 yards against the Texans.

Asked if the Rams waived Blanton to make room for wide receivers such as undrafted free agents Lance McCutcheon, McVay said no. The decision was made after evaluating what was optimal for the offense.

“It’s really about what’s the best way to use your top 11 players,” McVay said.

Running backs Raymond Calais and AJ Rose, receiver JJ Koski and defensive back Jairon McVea were other players waived before Tuesday’s deadline to narrow the rosters to 80 players.

McVay said making the cuts early could allow players to be signed by other teams ahead of the final pre-season games next weekend.

The rosters must be reduced to 53 players by August 30.

Etc.

The Rams are off Sunday. They will resume practice on Monday and travel to Cincinnati on Tuesday for Wednesday and Thursday practices against the Bengals. The Rams face the Bengals in their final preseason game on Saturday.

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