Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Notebook: TE Cunningham in a Battle to Win a Roster Spot

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Notebook: TE Cunningham in a Battle to Win a Roster Spot

Article excerpt

On more than one occasion during Rams training camp, tight end Justice Cunningham has been seen limping off the practice field. Once, he even received a short cart ride to the locker room.

But without fail, when practice starts the next day, Cunningham is there, working with teammates.

"Just a bunch of little things that you have to get through, nothing real serious," he said following practice Thursday. "Playing football, you're going to have aches and pains, but you just have to fight through to make sure you're out there the next day."

To be honest, the 6-foot-3, 258-pound Cunningham doesn't have the luxury of taking time off these days. He is one six tight ends on the roster and currently in a heated battle for a roster spot.

The team figures to be set with veterans Jared Cook, who led the Rams in receiving a year ago with 51 catches for 671 yards and five touchdowns, Lance Kendricks (32 catches, 258 yards, four TDs) and Cory Harkey (13 catches, 113 yards, two TDs) to lead the way. After that, there's Cunningham, rookie free agent Alex Bayer, who led the team in the preseason opener with five catches for 71 yards, and newcomer Brad Smelley, who was picked up after defensive lineman- turned-tight end Mason Brodine went to injured reserve with a fractured ankle.

"I try not to think about it," Cunningham, 23, said when asked about the depth chart. "I just try to focus on the next practice, take it one day at a time, one play at a time. My goal every day is to work hard and try to become a better football player."

Cunningham, who played at the University of South Carolina, was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 draft by the Indianapolis Colts and spent much of last season on their practice squad. He appeared in one game, catching a 4-yard pass against the Arizona Cardinals before being waived.

He signed with the Rams in late November and spent the last five weeks of the season on the team's practice squad.

"It feels a whole lot better getting a chance to learn the whole system and getting to know the coaches and players," said Cunningham, who had a 5-yard pass reception in last weekend's 26-24 loss to the Saints. …

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