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Saturday, July 26, 2008
Rams position battles

By Mike Sando

Posted by's Mike Sando

Center: Brett Romberg vs. Richie Incognito

Romberg played well enough at center under tough circumstances last season to earn a shot at the job this summer. Incognito provides his primary competition. Their camp battle has ramifications elsewhere on the line.

If Romberg prevails at center, Incognito moves into the lineup at right guard. If Incognito becomes the center, Romberg battles Mark Setterstrom for the starting job at right guard. Incognito will take most of his reps at center, a more demanding position from an assignment standpoint.

The shuffling would be nothing new for a line that used 18 combinations last season. Jacob Bell, signed from Tennessee in free agency, is the starting left guard. Orlando Pace and Alex Barron are the starting tackles. Incognito has proven to be one of the five best offensive linemen on the team, but the Rams aren't yet sure where he'll line up. Romberg will have a say in the matter.

Last season taught the Rams' offensive linemen to be ready for just about anything. A position battle, no matter how hot, cannot compare to what the team went through in 2007.

"Things can happen day to day," Romberg told reporters. "It may not come down to a coaching decision this camp. There could be an injury or something could happen, so you just go in everyday and take one day at a time."

Intensity index: Hot

Receiver: Reche Caldwell vs. Donnie Avery

The Rams opened camp without Avery, whose agent continued working toward a contract agreement. The missed time isn't a significant factor this early, but Avery needs as much work and study time as he can get.

Coach Scott Linehan wasn't shy about pumping up rookie receiver Keenan Burton, who made big plays as camp opened. "Its one of the best motivators in sports, so we will leave it at that," Linehan told reporters.

The Rams are installing a new offense far more sophisticated than anything Avery ran at the University of Houston. Even with a full camp, Avery could have a hard time challenging for this job until later in the season.

Caldwell, now with his fourth team in four seasons, caught the ball consistently during minicamps. He also seemed to absorb the playbook without much trouble.

Intensity index: Mild