Feldman: Rams offensive line facing major challenges

Feldman: Rams offensive line facing major challenges

Credit: Getty Images

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 12: Head coach Jeff Fischer of the St. Louis Rams watches his players during rookie mini camp at the ContinuityX Training Center on May 12, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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by Brian Feldman

KMOV.com

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

(Football StL) -- This is not how Jeff Fisher drew it up in the offseason.  Not at all.  He said from the get go that he was planning on Sam Bradford staying on his feet.

Ya, how’s that working out?

In Detroit, the 24-year old quarterback was sacked 3 times and hit on 7 other occasions.  Then the Rams lost their starting left tackle (Rodger Saffold) and starting center (Scott Wells) to injuries.

Wells is out for, roughly, half the season with a fractured foot while Saffold might be a couple weeks away with a strained neck.

So let’s recap the current state of the Rams O-Line compared to what Fisher thought he had coming into training camp.

Left tackle: Rodger Saffold was/is the best offensive lineman on this team who is a year removed from a terrific season protecting Bradford’s blind side.  He had some bad luck last year by missing a huge chunk of the season with a pectoral injury.  Now?  The Rams will be rolling out Jets castoff Wayne Hunter while Saffold is out of action again.  Not good.

Left guard:  The Rams never really had a left guard.  They went into training camp looking at all of their options and had an open competition.  The person who was the favorite for the gig, Quinn Ojinnaka, was cut right before the first game.  He has since returned...but it seems rookie Rokevious Watkins will man that spot for now. 

Center:  Scott Wells was signed to be the steady force on this unit.  He did it for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay; the hope was he’d do the same for Sam Bradford.  Well, you won’t be seeing Mr. Wells for at least half the season.  And now 4-year pro Robert Turner (a guard by trade) is going to be filling that role.  No bueno.

Right guard:  Harvey Dahl is the only person who was supposed to be starting a few months ago that currently is.  Rams fans.  Pray he’s not next in line for the injury report.  He’s the only thing the offensive line has right now.  The only thing.

Right tackle:  Jason Smith got one more chance.  Jeff Fisher and Les Snead didn’t make offensive tackle much of a priority in the offseason as they decided to give Smith a first hand look.  It took a few weeks before he was shipped to New York for Wayne Hunter.  Barry Richardson took over.  By default more than anything.  Richardson’s a solid, experienced pro who won’t embarrass himself.  A star he is not. 

This may not be pretty for several weeks.  It wasn’t exactly a work of art when Saffold and Wells were healthy...and now those guys aren’t around. 

On a weekly basis, I’m sorry, but the Rams are simply going to have to go max protect and keep Bradford upright as much as possible.  That entails keeping all 5 offensive linemen, a tight end and a running back or two in the backfield to pass block.  What you give up is only sending a couple receivers out to catch passes.  But that’s just the reality of where the Rams are at right now. 

Jeff Fisher took this job because he believes he has a franchise quarterback.  Well, franchise quarterbacks can’t do much if they’re on their back. 

 

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