- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Coach Steve Spagnuolo told reporters Sunday that the St. Louis Rams' inability to pass protect effectively Saturday night stands as a "concern" -- and that protection issues will likely influence whether the team goes with A.J. Feeley or rookie Sam Bradford as its starter.
"Probably, yes," Spagnuolo said during a conference call. "Really, offense begins with the offensive line. I’ve been saying it since we got here. I know the offensive line understands that, and until we straighten out some of these things, it’s going to be tough for any quarterback. My guess is that the group of offensive linemen that we have, that they’ll take this challenge."
The more experienced Feeley might be more apt to start for the Rams early in the season if Spagnuolo still had concerns about protection.
The Rams experimented with a new combination up front Saturday. They moved center Jason Brown to guard because they thought his size would help against a 4-3 defense with massive tackles. Veteran Hank Fraley played center. Left guard Jacob Bell was injured and not available.
Spagnuolo said he expects second-year right tackle Jason Smith to improve as he gets more practice and game reps. Smith has missed time after suffering a broken toe during June camps. He struggled in protection against the Vikings. Rookie left tackle Rodger Saffold gave up a couple pressures to the inside, Spagnuolo said, but overall the Rams were happy with his performance under the circumstances (first preseason game, Jared Allen at defensive end for the Vikings).
Spagnuolo on Smith: "The comment I made this morning was, 'He just needs a thousand reps.' He's behind everybody else in that regard, and all of a sudden you put him out in a game and the speed of the game is completely different. So I think he’ll smooth that out. I don’t think there’s any concern there. He played well there over on the right side about four or five games in the middle of the season last year, so hopefully he can get back in that groove."