Thursday, November 10, 2011
On the Rams' outlook along offensive line
By Mike Sando
The St. Louis Rams head into the second half of their schedule with Tony Wragge at center and Adam Goldberg at right tackle.
The team did not plan for journeyman backups to emerge as starters, but the switch to Wragge from Jason Brown was voluntary. The switch to Goldberg from Jason Smith was related to injury, but after two-plus games with Goldberg, are the Rams worse off? Tough to say.
Offensive line was one area where the Rams invested heavily through the draft and free agency. They have relatively little to show for their investments, a concern as the team tries to build around quarterback Sam Bradford.
Heading into Week 10, however, the picture looks like this:
- Left tackle Rodger Saffold is struggling with consistency. He's had lingering back problems and suffered a lower-leg injury at Green Bay. Whether those injuries are affecting his play, Saffold hasn't taken the next step after a promising rookie season.
- Left guard Jacob Bell was released before the season and brought back on a reduced contract, an indication the team no longer valued him as it once did. Bell has played pretty well, however.
- Brown, the starter at center since signing a big free-agent contract in 2009, does not play with the surly demeanor the Rams have been seeking along their line. He hasn't played consistently well this season. The change from Brown to Wragge suggests Brown will not be back next season under his current deal, and probably not at all.
- Harvey Dahl remains the starter at right guard. The team signed him because it wanted a bigger, stronger guard with toughness and attitude. Dahl better fits the McDaniels mold for guards. He seems to be functioning as anticipated.
- Goldberg is starting at right tackle while Smith recovers from head/neck injuries suffered at Dallas. The team signed Dahl to replace Goldberg at right guard. Goldberg isn't a power player and doesn't project as a long-term starter. He's a versatile backup, though.
The Rams thought they had overcome a 2005 draft that brought them Alex Barron, Richie Incognito and Claude Terrell. At best, however, they are set for next season at left tackle and right guard, unless Smith returns and improbably justifies his first-round salary.