IRVINE — If the Rams locked their practice field, rookie fullback Sam Rogers would need a key. What’s the football version of a gym rat? A gridiron gopher?
The Rams raised some eyebrows in April when they drafted Rogers in the sixth round out of Virginia Tech. A fullback? In a modern NFL offense? Rogers seems to have set out, through the quality and quantity of his work, to prove during this training camp that he can have a role with the Rams in 2017.
Rogers typically is the first Rams player on the field for practice – 45 minutes early – and also one of the last. A mention of that fact this week, though, drew a purposeful look from Rogers’ intense blue eyes.
“It’s not like a publicity stunt or anything like that,” Rogers said after a recent practice. “I just try to get out here and work on some things. It’s just my way of getting ready.”
It seems to be working. There’s still a month to go before the start of the regular season, but as of now, Rogers seems to be headed toward a spot on the 53-man roster. Rogers’ combination of special-teams intensity, blocking and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield makes him an intriguing option.
There’s also a certain intangible about Rogers. A former college coach once referred to him as “a nonstop ball of butcher knives,” which is a bizarre but oddly accurate way to describe Rogers’ style of play.
Listed at 5-foot-10, 235 pounds, Rogers is neither the strongest nor fastest player on the field, but his straight-ahead, run-you-over intensity might make a defender think twice about standing in front of him.
It’s unlikely that the Rams will use Rogers as a lead blocker for Todd Gurley, but it’s possible that Rogers could emulate some of the roles filled by Benny Cunningham last year. Cunningham had only 21 carries last season but caught 16 passes.
In his four-year career at Virginia Tech, Rogers totaled 802 receiving yards (and seven touchdowns) compared to 692 rushing yards (and four touchdowns).
“I’ll do whatever they ask me to do,” Rogers said. “I’m here to help the team in any way I can, whether that’s special teams or blocking or catching or running. The goal for me is just to be as versatile as possible, so that they can use me in any way they see fit. So I try to be ready to do whatever.”
If there’s any question about Rogers’ spot on the roster at the end of the preseason schedule, special teams could tilt things in his favor. Coach Sean McVay…