Rams waive Kendall Blanton, lose Logan Bruss to injury

The Rams had no choice about losing one player expected to play a key role this season, and Saturday they made a somewhat surprising decision to part ways with another.

Shortly after the Rams announced that tight end Kendall Blanton was among five players put on waivers, coach Sean McVay said rookie offensive lineman Logan Bruss would be sidelined until 2023 because of a knee injury suffered 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 fortify an offensive line in transition, utilized a third-round pick — their highest in the draft — to select Bruss, who joined fellow former Wisconsin linemen Rob Havenstein and David Edwards with the Rams.

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

Following the Rams’ victory over 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 regarded as the eventual successor to 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 first-team reps at right guard during training camp and appeared on track to start the season at that spot. But Rams coaches projected Bruss as a potential midseason replacement, allowing the versatile Shelton to be available at all three interior line positions.

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

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

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

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

McVay said he has been impressed with “incredible strides” made by linemen A.J. Jackson and Tremayne Anchrum. And fourth-year pro Bobby Evans has starting experience at guard and tackle.

Bruss is not the only member of the rookie class who will have surgery.

Outside linebacker Daniel Hardy suffered an ankle injury against the Texans and will undergo a procedure that will probably land 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, and then was elevated to the roster during 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 divisional-round victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Starting in place of injured Tyler Higbee in the Super Bowl, Blanton caught five passes before he suffered a shoulder injury.

Higbee appears to be back at full strength after offseason knee surgery, and Brycen Hopkins’ ascent no doubt factored into the decision to waive Blanton.

Hopkins, a 2020 fourth-round draft pick from Purdue, caught four passes in the Super Bowl. During two preseason games, he demonstrated 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 agent Lance McCutcheon, McVay said no. The decision was made after evaluating what was optimal for the offense.

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

Running backs Raymond Calais and A.J. Rose, receiver J.J. Koski and defensive back Jairon McVea were other players waived ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to trim rosters to 80 players.

McVay said making the cuts early might allow players to be signed by other teams ahead of the final preseason games next weekend.

Rosters must be cut to 53 players by Aug. 30.

Etc.

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

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