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Practice squad QB a priority for Rams

Practice squad QB a priority for Rams

September 5th, 2011 by R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer in News

St. Louis Rams quarterback Thaddeus Lewis scrambles during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011, in St. Louis. Lewis, who lost a battle for the backup quarterback job, was picked up by the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Photo by The Associated Press /News Tribune.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - An indication of the St. Louis Rams' roster strength is the battles that went to the wire, and the quarterback they lost.

Thaddeus Lewis, who lost a battle for the backup quarterback job, was picked up by the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The Rams were hoping to re-sign Lewis to the practice squad for a second straight year, but his preseason work got the attention of Browns coach Pat Shurmur, St. Louis' offensive coordinator last season.

Two other players cut Saturday quickly found homes, wide receiver Mardy Gilyard went to the Cleveland Browns and defensive end George Selvie went to the Carolina Panthers.

The closest call in the final cutdown may have been keeping wide receiver Danario Alexander despite a balky left knee over Donnie Avery, who missed last season with a knee injury.

"I still think Donnie Avery is going to be a good player in the league and, knock on wood, Danario is going to give us a chance on game day to be out there and make plays and help us win games," general manager Billy Devaney said Sunday on a conference call. "So we weigh everything."

Devaney noted that having tough decisions to make is better than the alternative.

"We realize every time we make a move to put somebody out there, we always say you have to expect to lose them," Devaney said. "Like we said when they were leaving the building, we hope they go on and have great careers."

The Rams re-signed six players to the practice squad, all undrafted free agents. They have two spots open, one of them for signing a quarterback that Devaney said was a priority.

Like many teams following a rule change to allow a 46-man game-day roster instead of 45 players plus a third-string quarterback, the Rams elected to carry just two quarterbacks with veteran A.J. Feeley as the backup behind Sam Bradford.

Seven draft picks made the 53-man roster. Devaney said the final player on the Rams' game-day roster could likely be a special teams player instead of someone who carries a clipboard.

Players signed to the practice squad were defensive backs Tim Atchison and Jonathan Nelson, defensive tackle John Henderson, offensive linemen Kevin Hughes and Ryan McKee and running back Chase Reynolds.

The Rams also are looking for depth at cornerback, although Devaney said a lot of teams have that need.

"But we will keep looking, I promise you," Devaney said.