NFL Nation: Scott Wells

Rams Camp Report: Day 12

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
9:05
PM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of St. Louis Rams training camp:
  • The Rams got back to work Monday afternoon in what was a mostly uneventful practice. As promised by coach Jeff Fisher, the team did get some players back to practice in some capacity. But key veterans such as linebacker James Laurinaitis (ankle), defensive tackle Michael Brockers (ankle) and guard Rodger Saffold (stinger) did not return to work. Among those getting back in the mix were defensive tackle Kendall Langford and cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Brandon McGee. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins did a little work on the side before practice and individual but not much else. Cornerback Darren Woodard was a new addition to the not practicing list. And tight end Justice Cunningham, who appears to be in a heated contest for a potential fourth tight end spot, limped off and rode to the locker room on the back of a golf cart.
  • Unhappy with his team's 14 penalties against the Saints, Fisher made his team run a sprint for every player who committed a penalty. That essentially meant the whole team had to run, though some more than others.
  • As for the practice, it was one of the team's more sluggish workouts of this camp, which is probably to be expected after a two-day layoff and a preseason game. Backup quarterback Shaun Hill got his share of work and had some good moments, including some nice throws down the seam in early team and 7-on-7s to tight ends Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks. The first offense appeared out of sync a bit as it had multiple near misses on deep connections and an occasional drop.
  • Cornerback Marcus Roberson hasn't had many shining moments in camp but showed some deep cover skills against Chris Givens on a deep ball during team. Roberson hasn't distinguished himself like other corners battling for roster spots and needs to pick it up to insert himself into the race. ... Rookie quarterback Garrett Gilbert had some ups and quite a few downs in his preseason debut against the Saints but had some good throws in Monday's practice. On one, he dropped a perfect pass into the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to receiver Jordan Harris.
  • The Rams don't quite have their projected starting offensive line in place yet with Saffold out but they're getting closer. Offensive tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells were back with the first team and in far more than just a cameo Monday. Both appear to be trending toward playing preseason games as they come off knee surgery (Long) and illness (Wells). They took the bulk of the work with the first team and appear to be moving well.
  • Quick roster note: the Rams signed tight end Brad Smelley to take the spot vacated by injured tight end Mason Brodine. Brodine suffered a fractured ankle against New Orleans and is out for the season.
  • The Rams are back at it Tuesday with a 5:30 p.m. CT practice. That workout is free and open to the public at Rams Park.

Rams Camp Report: Day 10

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
9:45
PM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of St. Louis Rams training camp:
  • The pads didn't pop as often or as loud Tuesday evening but the Rams continue to ratchet up the physicality as they prepare for the season opener. Once again, the run game took precedence and got plenty of work. Coach Jeff Fisher indicated after practice that he wants each of his running backs to get about six carries in the preseason opener and deployed them in a similar fashion Tuesday night. Even rookie Tre Mason got some reps with the first-team offense and had a couple of impressive runs, including one where he burst through the hole, bounced off a would be tackler, and darted left into the end zone for a would-be touchdown. It was one of his better practices. Running back Zac Stacy departed practice early. The injury didn't appear serious, but we'll see more when Friday night arrives. Receiver Austin Franklin also limped off during the workout.
  • Receiver Brian Quick returned to the practice field after sitting the past couple of practices. He made his presence felt early with a nice diving catch along the sideline from quarterback Sam Bradford. The rest of the injury list remains the same as Monday with key players such as linebacker James Laurinaitis, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and guard Rodger Saffold among those sitting it out.
  • Speaking of sitting it out, Fisher said after practice that Bradford, left tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells will be held out of Friday's game. He used the term highly unlikely when describing Bradford but that lines up with what he's intimated since the beginning of camp, so it's probably safe to assume Bradford won't play. For what it's worth, word out of Saints camp is that quarterback Drew Brees also won't participate.
  • Elsewhere on the practice field, receiver Kenny Britt landed awkwardly in individual drills but didn't miss much and came back to haul in another deep ball from Bradford for a big gain later in practice. ... Defensive lineman Alex Carrington provided a scary moment when he pulled up just as he got close to Bradford in a team drill. The two made contact, but no damage was done. ... It was one of receiver Tavon Austin's best practices as he came up with some big plays, highlighted by an over-the-shoulder gem on a perfect throw from Bradford in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown. He later beat cornerback E.J. Gaines and safety T.J. McDonald on a deep ball down the right sideline. ... It's been two practices in a row in which receiver T.J. Moe came up with a big play or two. He'll need a big preseason performance to stake a claim to a spot, but he's picking a good time to make some noise.
  • The Rams are back at it with a special teams practice set for Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. ET at Rams Park. That practice is closed to the public.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- If the St. Louis Rams projected starting offensive line can stay healthy, it has the talent and experience to be among the league's best.

The only problem is that the size of that "if" isn't done much justice in this font size. This is the next verse, same as the first when it comes to the Rams' offensive line. From left to right, the line has established Pro Bowlers and potential future Pro Bowlers. It also has an injury history that makes betting big on that group to stay together for 16 games a risky proposition.

[+] EnlargeJake Long
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonJake Long is on track in his recovery from offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL to start the season.
About a week and a half into this training camp, the Rams are starting to get the projected pieces in place. Left tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells returned to team drills last week as they recover from offseason knee surgery and an illness, respectively. Long and Wells form the experienced heartbeat of the line, the two most experience players upfront and two of the team's most veteran leaders in general.

Long is still slowly working his way into getting more reps but appears on track to play in some preseason games and be ready to start the season. Wells' return has been more accelerated as he's getting plenty of work in team drills.

Having Long and Wells back is a welcome sight for quarterback Sam Bradford and an added help to rookie left guard Greg Robinson.

"When Jake and Scotty are in the huddle, they just provide a ton of that veteran leadership on that line, especially with Greg in there," Bradford said. "I think having those two guys around him just helps him as far as communication goes so it’s really important for those guys to start jelling too. So the more we can get them on the field together, I think the better we're going to be."

Of course, no sooner did the Rams get Long and Wells back in the mix than right guard Rodger Saffold suffered an apparent stinger that has kept him out the past couple of practices. Such is the way things seem to go for this group.

The good news is that Saffold's latest issue doesn't seem serious and he should be back soon enough. The bad news is that Saffold having injury issues is nothing new. The same can be said of Wells and Long. That trio has combined to miss a total of 37 games over the past three seasons because of various ailments.

The Rams committed serious draft capital and dollars to the line in the offseason. They spent the No. 2 overall pick on Robinson, signed Saffold to a lucrative long-term deal and added veteran guard Davin Joseph on a one-year deal. Robinson and Saffold provide strong insurance in case anything happens to Long or right tackle Joe Barksdale.

Before Long returned and even now as he's working his way back into the mix, the Rams have taken the opportunity to get Robinson and Saffold some work at left tackle with Joseph filling in at guard.

“Well, that’s the big thing," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "We’re going to move guys around. Again, we’re trying to create competition, putting Greg in different spots, Rodger in different spots .... They’ve been working hard. The communication now is so much easier for them. We make adjustments, they make adjustments, make calls. That just comes from playing together."

Which brings us back to the original question of just how much that group will play together. Aside from Joseph, only backup center Tim Barnes has any sort of meaningful game experience and even that is limited to four starts last season. Offensive line coach Paul Boudreau is adept at getting a lot from a little but if the Rams' line breaks out in another rash of injuries, it could easily derail their hopes of a breakthrough season.

"I think we’re coming together real well," Long said. "Especially in practice against this defensive line it makes us better every single day. Getting Davin, a veteran who has been to the Pro Bowl and is a great player, he’s doing a great job out there. We have been working hard and just pushing each other and it’s coming along good."

For this group, coming together isn't the issue. Staying together is.

Rams Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
9:30
PM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of St. Louis Rams training camp:
  • Thursday night's practice might as well have been the NFL equivalent of homecoming as the Rams had a bunch of familiar faces return to the field, including some coming back from injury who will be key to their success this season. Offensive tackle Jake Long, center Scott Wells and end William Hayes all got at least a few repetitions in team drills after being limited to some individual work to this point in camp. They didn't get a ton of work, but there were at least a few reps in which the Rams had their projected starting offensive line of (from left to right) Long, Greg Robinson, Wells, Rodger Saffold and Joe Barksdale together for the first time in this camp. Long and Wells did not participate in one-on-one pass-rush drills but Hayes did take some reps. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson also got back to work after sitting a few days with a tight hamstring. Offensive lineman Brandon Washington was also back to work. Defensive end Ethan Westbrooks did some work in the pass-rush drills as well after starting camp on the non-football injury list.
  • Linebacker James Laurinaitis limped off the field late in the practice and did not return. Coach Jeff Fisher said Laurinaitis got stepped on during the practice. It didn't appear to be serious. Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner did not practice and had his right leg wrapped as he watched on the sidelines. Others not participating: offensive lineman Barrett Jones, running back Isaiah Pead (hand), safety Christian Bryant, cornerback Jarrid Bryant and defensive end Sammy Brown.
  • On the field, the action picked up where it left off Tuesday with the offense again starting to catch up to the defense now that shoulder pads are on. Quarterback Sam Bradford continued to take some shots down the field and find his connection. Early in team drills, he hit Stedman Bailey in stride about 40 yards downfield for what likely would have been a touchdown. He also continued to connect with Kenny Britt and Brian Quick on some deep balls and hit Tavon Austin on a deep ball while backed up at his 1-yard line. Austin's finest moment actually came on a deep comeback route in which Bradford threw high but Austin elevated and caught the pass out of frame. That's something we haven't seen much of from Austin since his arrival in St. Louis.
  • With shoulder pads on, the one-on-one pass-rush drills got rolling Thursday with some interesting matchups. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald continues to dominate and did what he wanted against center Tim Barnes on a couple of reps. If you felt the Earth shake tonight, don't worry it was just Robinson and tackle Michael Brockers colliding. Robinson did a nice job in a couple of matchups.
  • Also visiting St. Louis this week: an officiating crew which handled Thursday's practice and will spend time on points of emphasis with the team in the next couple of days through Saturday's scrimmage. And Blake Williams, former linebackers coach and son of defensive coordinator Gregg, who stopped in to see his dad and former team at work. He made a similar visit in the spring.
  • The Rams return to the Rams Park practice field Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET, which doubles as the next workout open to the public.

Rams Camp Report: Day 5

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
8:15
PM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of St. Louis Rams training camp:
  • The Rams put the shoulder pads on for the first time in this training camp Tuesday afternoon and it resulted in a little bit more of an even playing field. After the top defense dominated the first-team offense for much of the opening days of camp, the addition of pads got the offense some traction. Quarterback Sam Bradford had what looked like his best practice of camp as he frequently connected on passes down the field. The primary recipient? Receiver Brian Quick. Quick is off to a good start in this camp and only built on that start with Tuesday's work. Bradford and Quick hooked up a couple of times on deep balls in early team drills and then Quick brought even more cheers when he caught another deep ball from rookie quarterback Garrett Gilbert later on. Bradford also hit receiver Kenny Britt for about a 40-yard touchdown deep down the right sideline as Britt got behind cornerback Brandon McGee. That play elicited the biggest cheers of the day.
  • One thing that needs to be cleaned up early on is pre-snap penalties. So far, both sides of the ball have been guilty of jumping early. In many places, you'd allow for the benefit of the doubt since it's so early in camp, but the Rams have been persistent penalty magnets in the two years under coach Jeff Fisher and many of the infractions can be attributed to veteran players who should be past such mistakes. There isn't necessarily one player in particular jumping early, which might make it more frustrating for Fisher and his staff since it can be harder to rein in a team-wide issue.
  • Progress is coming for defensive end William Hayes, offensive tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells. All three have been participating in some individual work early in practice and Hayes and Wells, in particular, look to be close to a return. Hayes said after practice he had a couple of offseason procedures, though the nature of his injuries are unknown. Wells' injuries are also unknown at this point but none of that will matter much if they get back on the field soon. For what it's worth, Hayes says this is as good as he's felt since his second year in the league. That was 2009.
  • A few developments of note at running back. Zac Stacy continues to get most of the work with the first team, but Tre Mason got a few reps Tuesday afternoon and Benny Cunningham is finding his way onto the field some as well. Isaiah Pead sat out the practice and was wearing what appeared to be a cast on his right hand.
  • Some special guests were in the house Tuesday, including the bulk of the University of Missouri football coaches. Defensive end Michael Sam, cornerback E.J. Gaines, receiver T.J. Moe and center Tim Barnes spent some time with the staff after practice and Sam said it was good to see the group. Former Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage also took in the workout.

Camp preview: St. Louis Rams

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
10:00
AM ET
» NFC Preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation's Nick Wagoner examines the three biggest issues facing the St. Louis Rams heading into training camp.

Sam Bradford's status: It's a familiar refrain that will be repeated ad nauseam for much of the offseason and camp, but it's the most basic and simple truth about the Rams in 2014 and the future: They'll go as far as quarterback Sam Bradford can take them. On the bright side, Bradford appears to be on schedule for a return to health from his season-ending knee injury, and the Rams expect him to be close to or at full speed for the start of camp.

That means Bradford will get a third season in coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's offense and the opportunity to get the Rams into the mix in the NFC West division. It's safe to assume the Rams won't ask Bradford to carry the freight for what will likely be a run-heavy offense, but they also will need more from Bradford than what was required of backup Kellen Clemens. The Rams have clearly abandoned the spread approach they were installing this time last year, but they will almost certainly be more balanced than they were after Bradford's injury in 2013.

The Gregg Williams effect: Much was expected of the Rams' defense in 2013 after it performed well enough to keep the team in games, especially divisional games, in 2012. But the group not only didn't take a step forward but regressed slightly under coordinator Tim Walton. So when the Rams had the opportunity to land Gregg Williams this offseason, they took it.

Now, the expectations are even higher after bringing Williams aboard and spending a first-round pick on defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Williams is expected to bring an array of exotic blitz packages and an aggressive approach to a defense that should be able to create consistent pressure. How that manifests itself in this training camp will go a long way toward determining the team's 2014 success.

Stability on the offensive line: The Rams made some major moves along the offensive line in the offseason in an effort to compete with the big, physical defensive lines around the NFC West. They used the No. 2 pick on Auburn's Greg Robinson and signed guard Rodger Saffold to a lucrative contract extension. On paper, an offensive line of (from left to right) Jake Long, Robinson, Scott Wells, Saffold and Joe Barksdale could be one of the better units in the league with a good mix of experience and potential.

But for the second straight year, that group faces the pressing question of whether it can retain some semblance of stability in the face of injury. The presumptive 2013 starting five played just 295 of the offense's 968 snaps, checking in just above 30 percent. Only three lines around the league spent less time together. Wells and Long are recovering from season-ending injuries, and although the Rams expect both players to be ready for the start of the season, it's fair to wonder how many games and what type of production they'll get. Saffold also has a lengthy injury history even though he has yet to suffer any serious ailments since moving to guard.

There are some intriguing young players behind the starting five, including Barrett Jones, Tim Barnes and Brandon Washington, but if the Rams are to be the powerful, run-heavy offense they aspire to be, they'll need the starting five in place as often as possible.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In his first nine seasons as the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback, Brett Favre had two starting centers -- James Campen (two years) and Frank Winters (seven).

Aaron Rodgers will be on his fourth in four seasons after Evan Dietrich-Smith signed a free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. And there is a decent chance it will be someone who has never played the position in the NFL.

Tretter
Dietrich-Smith completed his first full season as a starter last year after taking over for Jeff Saturday late in the 2012 season. Saturday lasted just one year after replacing Scott Wells, who was Rodgers' primary center in his first four seasons as a starter.

Perhaps the center-quarterback relationship isn't crucial, but don’t tell that to Rodgers. Shortly after the season on his ESPN 540 Milwaukee radio show, he called it "very important."

He then recalled a conversation he had with Dietrich-Smith during training camp.

"I just challenged him that this was a great opportunity and that he could really set up himself up to be a long-term guy here with a solid performance in training camp," Rodgers said. "And he did that and more.

"He's a very intelligent guy who had a very good season for us, and I'm proud of him in his development, and I hope that he’s around a long time."

Instead, Rodgers will have to adjust to someone new again.

The Packers have plenty of options, although none with any significant experience.

They like JC Tretter, a fourth-round pick last season who played tackle in college at Cornell. But Tretter did not play at all last season after breaking his ankle during the first week of offseason practices in May and only began working at center in November, when he returned to practice from the physically unable perform list.

"I think that kid has a lot of potential to play all five positions," Campen, the Packers' offensive line coach, said after the season. "Will he take reps at center? Yeah, sure he will. Wouldn't be surprised if he's taking reps at guard or tackle. You know, there's a lot of things that have to go through that process, certainly [Tretter] has displayed the ability to play center, yes."

Third-year pro Don Barclay, who played right tackle the past two seasons, could be an option. He worked at center during training camp last summer before he took over at right tackle. With Bryan Bulaga expected to return from his knee injury and go back to right tackle, it could free up Barclay to move inside.

The Packers have no plans to move T.J. Lang to center even though Lang slid over from right guard in two games last season when Dietrich-Smith was injured. The Packers don’t think Lang is a long-term solution at center and also believe he’s far more valuable at guard.

It's possible they could draft another center prospect, although it wouldn't likely be a high pick.

They also could pursue a free-agent center. The best one on the market is Alex Mack, a Pro Bowler with the Cleveland Browns. Mack currently carries the transition tag from the Browns, who could match any offer Mack gets from another team. The transition tag would pay Mack a $10 million salary this season. The most likely scenario for Mack to leave Cleveland might be in a trade.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For all of the bizarre things that took place in the past week to get offensive lineman Rodger Saffold back as a member of the St. Louis Rams and addressing the local media in a news conference Friday afternoon, the one move that really started it all happened Nov. 10.

[+] EnlargeRodger Saffold
AP Photo/L.G. PattersonSpending time at right guard opened up Rodger Saffold's options.
That was the day Saffold made his debut as a right guard against the Indianapolis Colts. It's hard to know for certain given the vagaries of the NFL but if that day had never happened, there's a strong possibility that Saffold wouldn't be a Ram nor would they have made much effort to keep him.

To that point, the 2013 season had been relatively tumultuous for Saffold. Given Saffold's injury issues in 2012, the team signed Jake Long to play left tackle and asked Saffold to move to the right side. It was a move he didn't love but never publicly complained about. Then, after early-season injury issues again popped up, Saffold found himself sharing the right tackle spot with Joe Barksdale upon his return from a Week 2 knee injury.

The previous three weeks before the game against Indianapolis, Saffold split reps with Barksdale. But the Rams wanted to get their five best offensive linemen on the field and with Barksdale and Saffold alternating at right tackle, they took one of those five off the field for chunks of the game. Long before that, there had been whispers that Saffold might be a better fit inside but it had never been tried because the Rams didn't have many options at tackle.

So it was that Saffold, in looking for a chance to be on the field consistently, and the Rams, looking to put their best line together, hatched the plan to put Saffold at right guard. Rams coach Jeff Fisher recalled the pivotal decision spurred by offensive line coach Paul Boudreau on Friday afternoon.

"Well, the conversation was initiated by Coach 'Bou'," Fisher said. " It’s hard to find a better one in the league than ‘Bou.' He just felt like with his understanding and his knowledge, the fact that he would line up next to Scott [Wells], and Scott could be of assistance to him and athletic ability -- it was an easy decision."

Saffold worked at guard all week leading up to the Colts game, an experience that was foreign to him. But nearly from the moment he jumped into the lineup at guard, it looked like a natural fit.

The pass protection part became easier as Saffold was no longer forced to cover so much ground against speedier rushers on the edge. He held up fine in that regard, but it was his ability as a run blocker that opened more than a few eyes to his potential inside.

Saffold's athleticism and size allowed him to become the prototype pulling guard as the Rams often got him on the move and allowed him to open holes for running back Zac Stacy. His second start, against Chicago, was the better highlight reel as he regularly was noticeable down the field creating space for the Rams to rush for 258 yards in a win.

Unfortunately for the Rams, Saffold's sample size at guard wasn't as large as they would have liked as injuries to others, especially Long, forced him to move outside. Make no mistake, that versatility also helped Saffold's value but it was the glimpse of potential that elevated Saffold from a "might keep" to a "must keep."

Saffold's production inside didn't just change the Rams' view of his future but also made a difference for Saffold himself. When he first made the move, Saffold discussed it with me and another reporter. He didn't have any trepidation about the move but it was clear he was a bit unsure of himself.

After tasting success at guard, Saffold said he regularly spent extra time critiquing his technique and working to refine the details of his new position.

"Once things started going good, I was happy but I was also very, very hungry and very, very strict on myself," Saffold said.

Saffold's work was enough to draw the attention of other teams as he headed to free agency and make him the Rams' top priority. Oakland and Tampa Bay put on the full-court press and both were at least open to the idea of Saffold playing guard though Saffold indicated Friday he would have played left tackle for the Raiders.

Looking back on his first opportunity to play guard, even Saffold himself is taken aback by the domino effect the move created.

"Now that everything else has happened, it was pretty much a surprise for me as well," Saffold said. "I know that Coach Boudreau definitely had a lot of confidence in me, as well as Coach Fisher about playing the guard position, and I didn’t realize it until I actually started doing it."

Now that he has, there's no turning back.

"He made the switch last year, a difficult switch," Fisher said. "He was very, very productive inside. Our plan is to play him at guard as we continue to fill the pieces around him."

It's a notion that a year ago seemed far-fetched. As of Friday afternoon, it's Saffold's new reality.

Super XLV: Where are they now?

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
6:30
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Exactly three years ago -- on Feb. 6, 2011 -- the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, much has happened to the 53 players who were on the roster for that 31-25 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington, Texas.

Free agency, injuries, retirement and declining performance cause roster turnover.

Still, it’s eye-opening that from the group that suited up for the Packers’ last championship, only 12 players (just 22.6 percent) remain under contract with the team for 2014. Another 11 are still officially members of the Packers, but have contracts that expire next month. There are 13 players with other NFL teams, and 17 are out of football -- perhaps for good.

Here’s a look at the status of every player who was on the active roster three years ago today at Super Bowl XLV:

Under contract for 2014

  • [+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
    Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThree years after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers is still leading the Packers.
    QB Aaron Rodgers: Threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to winning the Super Bowl XLV MVP, then won the NFL MVP award the next season. Signed a five-year, $110 million contract extension last April.
  • G Josh Sitton: Started Super Bowl XLV at right guard, but moved to left guard in 2013 and was a second-team, All-Pro selection. Signed a five-year contract extension on Sept. 2, 2011 that averages $6.75 million per season.
  • T Bryan Bulaga: Started at right tackle, but moved to left tackle last offseason. A training camp knee injury ended his 2013 season, and he now enters the final year of his rookie contract.
  • G: T.J. Lang: Served as a backup, but became the starting left guard the next season. Signed a four-year contract extension on Aug. 14, 2012 that averages $5.2 million per season. Moved to right guard last season.
  • WR Jordy Nelson: Caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and went on to post 1,000-yard receiving seasons in two of the next three years. Entering the final year of his contract in 2014.
  • OLB Clay Matthews: Forced a fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that the Packers recovered and turned into a touchdown to pad the lead. Four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $66 million contract extension last April.
  • LB A.J. Hawk: Started and made seven tackles in the Super Bowl. Was released two months later, only to re-sign a more salary-cap friendly deal. Is under contract through 2015.
  • CB Tramon Williams: Broke up three passes in the Super Bowl, including the one that sealed the game on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers’ 33-yard line in the final minute. Entering the final year of his contract. Scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2014, and could be a candidate to be released or restructured despite a strong finish to last season.
  • K Mason Crosby: Made a 23-yard field goal in the game and signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract on July 29, 2011. Struggled in 2012, but bounced back last year to post his best season.
  • P Tim Masthay: Capped his first season with the Packers by averaging 40.5 yards and allowing the Steelers just 5 yards on punt returns in the game. Signed a four-year, $5.465 million contract extension on July 26, 2012.
  • LS Brett Goode: Has been the long snapper since 2008 and signed a three-year, $2.715 million contract extension on Oct. 13, 2012.
  • CB Jarrett Bush: Special teams player who was pressed into defensive duty in the game after injuries to Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, and intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the second quarter. Signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract on March 26, 2012.
Headed for free agency next month

  • RB James Starks: Started the Super Bowl and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. Battled injuries most of his career, and might not be re-signed.
  • WR James Jones: Caught five passes for 50 yards in the game, and signed a three-year, $9.6 million contract on Aug. 2, 2011. Caught 59 passes for a career-high 817 yards in 2013, and could be a re-signed despite his age (will turn 30 next month).
  • DT Ryan Pickett: Started the game, made two tackles and was in on the play in which Matthews forced Rashard Mendehall's fourth-quarter fumble. Played in all 16 games last season with a base salary of $5.4 million, but might be at the age (34) where the Packers let him walk.
  • DT B.J. Raji: Capped a strong 2010 postseason with a pair of tackles in the game. Finished his rookie contract in 2013, and reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer last season.
  • DE C.J. Wilson: Started the game, but played only 14 snaps. Biggest impact came the night before the game, when he kept things loose in the team hotel by playing piano and leading a team sign-along. Finished his rookie contract in 2013.
  • FB John Kuhn: Played on both offense and special teams in the game. Signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract on Aug. 1, 2011.
  • CB Sam Shields: Suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the game. Had his best season in 2013 while playing under the restricted free agent tender of $2.023 million. Will command a big contract either from the Packers or another team in free agency.
  • LB Robert Francois: Went back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster throughout the 2010 season, and played on special teams in the game. Played last season under a one-year, $725,000 deal, but tore his Achilles tendon on Oct. 6.
  • TE Andrew Quarless: Caught one pass for 5 yards in the game. Suffered a major knee injury the next season and missed all of 2012. Returned last season to catch 32 passes for 312 yards (both career highs) in the final year of his rookie deal.
  • QB Matt Flynn: Served as Rodgers’ backup but did not play in the Super Bowl. Left after the 2011 season as a free agent, and after stints with Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, he returned to the Packers last season for a one-year minimum deal and played in five games after Rodgers broke his collarbone.
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was inactive for the Super Bowl. Became a starter late in 2012 and for all of 2013, when he played under the restricted free agent tender of $1.323 million deal.
With other teams

  • [+] EnlargeMcCarthy
    Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike McCarthy and the Packers have seen a lot of roster turnover since winning Super Bowl XLV.
    WR Greg Jennings: Started and became just the third player in team history to catch multiple touchdowns in a Super Bowl by recording touchdowns of 21 and 8 yards. Signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Vikings last March.
  • G Daryn Colledge: Started at left guard, but left in free agency a few months later to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Cardinals. Has started every game for the Cardinals since.
  • C Scott Wells: Started at center and remained with the Packers through the 2011 season before signing a four-year, $24 million contract with the Rams. Has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.
  • LB Desmond Bishop: Became a starter earlier in 2010 after Nick Barnett's wrist injury and made nine tackles in the Super Bowl. Also recovered the fumble that Matthews forced. Signed a four-year, $19 million contract in 2011, but was released after missing the entire 2012 season because of a hamstring injury. Signed with the Vikings last offseason, but appeared in only four games.
  • OLB Frank Zombo: Started the game and had the Packers’ only sack of Roethlisberger but battled injuries the next two years and was released. Signed with the Chiefs last year and appeared in all 16 games.
  • CB Charles Woodson: Started at cornerback, but broke his collarbone late in the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Played two more seasons with the Packers, who released him last year. Returned to his old team, the Raiders, and played in all 16 games last season.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins: Played 36 snaps and had a pair of quarterback pressures. Left in free agency the following year and signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Eagles, who released him after two years. Signed a three-year, $8 million contract with the Giants last season.
  • TE Tom Crabtree: Played on both offense and special teams in the Super Bowl, catching one pass. Left last year to sign with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent, but was limited to seven games because of injuries.
  • CB Josh Gordy: Was inactive for the game, and the next season was signed off the practice squad the by the Rams. Spent the past two seasons with the Colts.
  • G Nick McDonald: Was inactive for the game, like he was for every game that season. Was released in training camp the next year, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the Patriots. Did not play in 2013, but was recently signed by the Chargers.
  • OLB Erik Walden: Was inactive after suffering an ankle injury in the NFC Championship Game. Played the next two seasons before signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Colts last year.
  • DE: Jarius Wynn: Was active but did not play. Played in Green Bay through 2011, and with the Titans and Chargers before landing with the Cowboys last season.
  • FB Quinn Johnson: Inactive for the game. Was traded to the Titans in 2011. Has played in 24 games for the Titans over the past three years.
Out of football

  • T Chad Clifton: Started at left tackle, but his long career with the Packers ended when they released him after he played in only six games in 2011. Was never signed by another team.
  • WR Donald Driver: Started the game and caught two passes for 28 yards before leaving with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Retired after the 2012 season as the team’s all-time leading receiver.
  • S Nick Collins: Started and made a key early play when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of 2011 and hasn’t played since.
  • DT Howard Green: Claimed off waivers earlier that season and started the game. His hit on Roethlisberger led to Collins’ interception return for a touchdown. Returned in 2011 and played in all 16 games, but has not played since.
  • WR Brett Swain: Posted a team-high four special teams tackles. Was released the following season and played briefly with the 49ers. Was cut in training camp last season by the Seahawks.
  • S Atari Bigby: Played on special teams. Signed with the Seahawks the following season and played in 15 games. Played in eight games with the Chargers in 2012, but did not play in 2013.
  • CB Pat Lee: Special teams player who saw action on defense after injuries to Woodson and Shields. Played one more season in Green Bay before splitting time in 2012 between the Lions and Raiders. Did not play in 2013.
  • RB Brandon Jackson: Played as the third-down back, but did not have any carries in the game. Caught one pass for 14 yards. Signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Browns in 2011, but missed all of that season and played in only two games in 2012.
  • FB Korey Hall: Caught one pass for 2 yards and made one special teams tackle in the game. He played in 13 games with the Saints in 2011, and retired after going to camp with the Cardinals in 2012.
  • S Charlie Peprah: Led the Packers with 10 tackles (including nine solo stops). Returned as a starter in 2011, when he had five interceptions, but was released shortly before training camp in 2012. Played in five games for the Cowboys in 2012.
  • LB Diyral Briggs: Made one special teams tackle in the game, but never played in another NFL game.
  • LB Matt Wilhelm: Made two special teams tackles, but seven-year career ended after that game.
  • G Jason Spitz: Played on special teams. Left in free agency the next year and signed a three-year, $4.05 million contract with the Jaguars, who released him in training camp last summer. He signed with the Seahawks, but was released on Oct. 12.
  • TE Donald Lee: Played in the game, but did not have a catch and was released two months later. Played in nine games for the Bengals in 2001.
  • QB Graham Harrell: Inactive for the game. Remained with the Packers until he was released in training camp last summer. Also spent time briefly with the Jets before being released.
  • RB Dimitri Nance: Inactive for the game. Was released by the Packers the following summer and never played in another NFL game.
  • CB Brandon Underwood: Inactive for the game. Was released in 2011. Went to camp with the Raiders in 2012 and Cowboys in 2013, but did not make either team.
ST. LOUIS -- As the offseason approaches, there's no spot on the St. Louis Rams' roster with more questions than the offensive line.

Of the five linemen who opened the season as starters in 2013, it's possible that none will be available for opening day in 2014.

[+] EnlargeRodger Saffold
AP Photo/G. Newman LowranceRodger Saffold's versatility on the offensive line is a major reason why the St. Louis Rams will work to retain the fourth-year pro in 2014.
Rodger Saffold and Chris Williams are set to become unrestricted free agents. Center Scott Wells and right guard Harvey Dahl are under contract, but with salary cap numbers projected at $6.5 million and $4 million, respectively, either or both could become salary cap casualties.

To top it off, left tackle Jake Long suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Week 15 against Tampa Bay and at the very least would be cutting a return for the opener awfully close.

Put simply, the Rams have much to figure out in free agency and the draft.

"That's what the offseason is for," general manager Les Snead said. "We have got a plan so it's not a stressful situation. It's something that has got a lot of moving parts that we've got to address and keep them from moving."

As is often the case with offseason plans, Snead declined to elaborate on what the Rams' strategy for the line is moving forward. Regardless, it's probably a safe bet the Rams will be making some changes and adding some new pieces one way or another.

While decisions on Wells and Dahl may be the first order of business, figuring out a way to retain Saffold is the one piece of the puzzle Snead made clear the Rams are looking to figure out.

Saffold moved to right tackle in the offseason and started the year there before a knee injury cost him four games. He returned and began rotating with his replacement, Joe Barksdale, for a few weeks before settling in at right guard when Dahl suffered a knee injury.

There, Saffold showed the ability to be a potentially elite guard. Coach Jeff Fisher even acknowledged that Saffold's unique skills when pulling made him a good fit for the spot long term.

Asked directly if Saffold's versatility makes retaining him an important cog in the offseason plans, Snead acknowledged that it did.

"I would say yes," Snead said. "You love versatility on your offensive line. Take it broader than that, a lot of times you're keeping seven and eight up on game day, so when you've got a lot of versatility you can keep seven up and now your special teams are stronger."

The question then becomes how Saffold is valued around the league and whether teams see him as a guard or tackle and pay him as such. Snead believes the delineation of value among the line spots has blurred in recent years, making that an issue that may not matter much when it comes to Saffold.

"I think today in the NFL, it's not like it (used to be)," Snead said. "Now you see right tackles getting paid if they're really good, you see guards getting paid if they're really good. A lot of teams probably, it's not utopia so your best two players might be your right tackle and right guard so those teams usually pay them. I think it's a little broader now."

One more way for the Rams to fill possible line vacancies is from within. Snead expressed confidence in the development of rookie lineman Barrett Jones and the Rams have other young linemen such as guard Brandon Washington and tackle Mike Person in whom they've invested plenty of time and effort.

Offensive line coach Paul Boudreau has proved more than capable of bringing along young linemen and putting them in position to succeed. Barksdale's success in 2013 is a prime example.

The Rams will add to the line in the offseason, likely through the draft. Whether they use a high pick on a lineman remains to be seen, especially given Fisher and Snead's short two-year track record of not drafting linemen early.

Still, with the Rams having an extra first-round pick and likely obvious needs on the line, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them make it a priority in this draft.

By the time the draft rolls around in May, the Rams will have a good handle on what form the line is set to take. The contract situations will be decided and free agency will be complete.

For now, it's obvious Snead and the Rams aren't worried about the possible line alterations.

"One will be a rehab situation; one is an unrestricted free agent," Snead said. "Of any group I was most proud of, it was that group this year. I have a heart for offensive linemen because that's your basketball team. It's not just one great player. It's five guys working together."

The question for the Rams in 2014 is who those five will be.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As every other member of the St. Louis Rams' 2013 draft class has had at least one game full of snaps and opportunity, offensive lineman Barrett Jones has stood calmly on the sideline watching and waiting.

Watching as linebacker Alec Ogletree, receiver Tavon Austin, running back Zac Stacy, and safety T.J. McDonald have stepped into starting or expanded roles. Watching as receiver Stedman Bailey has earned increased opportunities, eventually earning a start last week against Arizona. Watching as cornerback Brandon McGee stepped in to fill a void in an injury-depleted secondary. And Jones has waited.

[+] EnlargeBarrett Jones
AP Photo/G. Newman LowranceRookie center Barrett Jones, recovering from a foot injury, might get some playing time in the Rams' final three games.
"I’m not frustrated," Jones said. "I’ve just kind of used this as a growth year, a year to kind of adjust to the NFL, really have some experience in the scheme and get faster and stronger, and I think I’ve made the most of it. I’m working really hard off the field, in the film room and the weight room so I feel really good about being ready when my time comes."

The natural question is when, exactly, his time will come? Considering the Rams have been officially eliminated from the playoff chase, many are wondering if that time is now. A player like Bailey, for example, has earned more and more repetitions as the season has gone along and figures to see more of those chances in the final three weeks.

But of course this isn't a YMCA league where everybody gets to play and juice boxes are handed out after the game. If a player gets a chance in the NFL, it's because he's earned it, not because it's mandated.

That said, it seems as though Jones would be a logical candidate to get some opportunities in the final three weeks, especially with starting center Scott Wells now officially on injured reserve with a broken fibula. Tim Barnes started in Wells' stead last week, and while he was OK, it's Jones with the more likely future as a possible starting center.

Given Wells' $6.5 million salary-cap number for next season, it's no guarantee he'll return. The Rams have unrestricted free agents at left guard and right tackle in Chris Williams and Rodger Saffold, respectively, and right guard Harvey Dahl is to count $4 million against the cap, making him another possible cap casualty.

From a Rams perspective, it could make sense to get a look at what they have in Jones with hopes he shows enough to give them some cap flexibility combined with the knowledge they won't have to leave their locker room to renovate up to 80 percent of the offensive line.

Before giving Jones a chance, the Rams have wanted to be sure he's ready. A serious foot injury and lack of strength kept him inactive in the first 12 games.

“Barrett has done a real good job in the weight room, and he’s gained a lot of strength," coach Jeff Fisher said. "So, he’ll be ready to go. Obviously, he’ll know what to do and how to do it, he just hasn’t had an opportunity.”

Upon arrival in St. Louis after the team used a fourth-round pick on him in April, Jones already had a good idea that the Lisfranc injury in his foot was going to take some time to heal. He said the Rams were honest with him right away about his chances for playing this season, and let him know they wanted him to fully heal and add muscle to his 308-pound frame.

"I knew these things kind of take about a year to feel 100 percent," Jones said. "I didn’t know exactly what the situation was going to be. But they have been really great and been up front with me the whole time, so I have no complaints and I’m excited about the future."

Jones is about a month away from the one year mark in terms of being removed from the injury. In the meantime, he's worked hard to reshape his body. Jones was able to become one of the most decorated players in college football history with outstanding technique and intelligence, but by his own admission didn't do a whole lot of lifting or working out when Alabama was in season.

"I just think I was playing so much I didn’t have as much of an opportunity to work out," Jones said. "You’re playing all the time. I worked out really hard in the offseason, but during the season it was more of a sustain kind of deal, so it’s been good to really get in there and hit it hard."

Jones has taken to spending early mornings in the Rams Park weight room, arriving before his teammates about 6:30 a.m. and putting in more than an hour on the weights before meetings begin. As for the mental side, that's never been a problem for the former four-time Academic All American, and it doesn't appear to be one now.

"I feel ready," Jones said. "I think I’ve improved a lot. I’m feeling pretty healthy, and so if I get an opportunity to play in these next few games, I’m excited to have a chance."

It's a chance that could come sooner than later.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The Rams added center Scott Wells to the injury report Saturday, joining cornerback Cortland Finnegan and running back Benny Cunningham on the list. All three are listed as questionable on the injury report.

Fisher said Wells was "a little tight" at the beginning of practice so the team opted to hold him out of most of the final workout before Monday night's game against Seattle. He was listed as a limited participant with a thigh injury. Although it didn't appear to be anything too serious, Fisher said Tim Barnes would be ready to go at center if Wells is unable to go.

Finnegan also was downgraded from limited work the past two days to not practicing Saturday. Fisher said Finnegan got some work done inside. The only other player on the injury report is Cunningham, who is dealing with an ankle injury.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Entering his fourth season in the league, St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford feels like the wise old man of the offense.

When Bradford stops and looks around the locker room or huddle he sees a group of youngsters, particularly in the wide receivers and running backs, only a year or two removed from being in college.

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesRams quarterback Sam Bradford has grown comfortable in Brian Schottenheimer's offense and is ready to share his knowledge with the rest of the offense.
Not that Bradford minds being considered a veteran on a young team.

“It makes me feel old, No. 1,” Bradford said. “But, I think it’s great. I think those young guys bring a certain energy to our locker room. They’ve got a lot of energy. They’ve got more than some of the vets and it’s great. I think it gives us a spark.”

Although Bradford does have some help in the leadership department from a veteran offensive line that includes tackle Jake Long, guard Harvey Dahl and center Scott Wells, a big part of his responsibility moving forward is embracing a leadership role to ensure the young players surrounding him reach their potential sooner than later.

Upon the departure of running back Steven Jackson, Bradford quickly realized a leadership void beyond just the opening at running back had been created. He’s embraced that role in this camp as he can regularly be found offering pointers to his receivers during practice or working extra with them afterward.

“It’s fun for me because I get to take more of a leadership role and try to help mold some of those young players and teach them the game and teach them through experiences that I’ve had,” Bradford said. “I think it’s great that we have a lot of young guys. I think it gives us an opportunity to take a lot of steps forward.”

The reality is that Bradford probably wasn’t as equipped to take the reins as the primary voice of the offense until this season. Not only was Jackson the more established veteran but Bradford continued to find himself in a position where he never had the chance to learn all the ins and outs of the offense.

Changing offensive coordinators three times in his first three years left Bradford trying to play catch up. It’s made it difficult for him to offer advice to his receivers and backs because he’s been working to learn it himself.

Now in his second year in coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offense, Bradford seems more at ease with his role. The timing of that couldn’t be better given how young his wideouts and backs are.

Projecting a receiver and running back corps with an average age of 23 might be fun in terms of the locker room but it also means the Rams and Bradford have high expectations for young players at a position where youth doesn’t always quickly translate to success.

Rookie and young running backs have a long history of producing right away. Just last year, two of the league’s top five rushers (Washington’s Alfred Morris and Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin) were rookies. That could bode well for second-year back Daryl Richardson and his young cohorts.

The receiver spot is a bit more difficult to make an early impact save for a select few. Among the top 20 in receiving yards in 2012, only three were in their second year but none were rookies.

Austin Pettis is the elder statesman of the receiver group entering his third season in the league. Chris Givens and Brian Quick are heading into Year 2 and Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are rookies.

Tight end Jared Cook should ease some of the pressure on those young receivers a bit, but it still might be asking a lot for such a young group to contribute in a major way so early in their careers at a position where that’s generally been difficult.

Bradford is aware of that, but he’s also made it clear he doesn’t plan to wait around for them to develop.

“I think there’s obviously a certain level of patience that you have to have,” Bradford said. “Obviously, we’re going to go through growing pains, but at the same time those guys have to understand what they’re expected to come in and do -- and that’s play at a high level. I think that we’ve tried to make that clear to a lot of the rookies, especially on the offensive side of the ball. They might be rookies, but they have to grow up fast because we are depending on them for our offense to be successful. So, we can’t afford them to have a season of learning. They’ve got to be able to come in and help us immediately.”
The St. Louis Rams finished 7-8-1 last season with Robert Turner and Barry Richardson leading their offensive line in most snaps played.

They posted that record with Wayne Hunter and Quinn Ojinnaka combining for nine starts (neither player is on a 90-man roster at present). They posted that record with Shelley Smith and Joe Barksdale combining for eight starts after St. Louis claimed both off waivers during the season.

I think that context is important when considering what our NFL scout, Matt Williamson, had to say about the Rams' current offensive line.



The Rams are young just about everywhere but along their line. Center Scott Wells, left tackle Jake Long, right tackle Rodger Saffold and right guard Harvey Dahl combined to miss 21 regular-season games last season. All but Saffold are coming off surgeries. Losing Turner in free agency hurt the depth, and Rok Watkins' release for being overweight was another blow.

From the Rams' perspective, however, the foursome of Wells, Long, Saffold and Dahl are all healthy entering camp. Wells started the final six games last season. Jones is a rookie the team can develop. And if the team could compete with the group it assembled last season, just about anything seems possible. I'd certainly rather go with Long-Saffold than Saffold-Richardson at the tackle spots.

The Rams have stocked their roster at the skill positions while building a capable defense with few missing pieces. But as we look into the future, it's clear the team needs to draft and otherwise acquire talent for its offensive line. Keeping Saffold, who is entering the final year of his deal, could be an option if he plays well this season. Developing Jones would certainly help. Even then, the team could use a couple interior linemen and another tackle.

And if injuries strike the line hard in 2013, Williamson is right. The depth is a concern, for sure.
Three of four starting NFC West left tackles have been named to start a Pro Bowl over the past few seasons.

The fourth, Levi Brown, was drafted fifth overall in 2007.

From 2009 through 2011, NFC West teams used five first-round selections for offensive linemen, more than any other division.

Results have been mixed. Overall, however, the lines in this division should be on the rise. There is still quite a bit of variance top to bottom.

Matt Williamson, who scouts the NFL for ESPN.com, picks up the conversation from there as part of our ongoing series ranking NFC West position groups.

Williamson: San Francisco has the best offensive line in the league. The 49ers bring back all five starters. They are loaded. Arizona has one of the worst lines in the league, although I think it will be better. Brown is back from injury. Bobby Massie and Nate Potter will be better in their second seasons. All the draft analysts seem to think the Cardinals need a tackle. They really need a guard. That is the weakest spot on the line, right guard.

Sando: I was pretty surprised when the Cardinals gave decent starting money to Adam Snyder in free agency last offseason. He's most valuable for his versatility and would be ideally suited as the sixth man for any line.

Williamson: Snyder is terrible. I don't think they'll draft Chance Warmack seventh overall. They need an outside pass-rusher. Still, they should strongly consider Warmack. He would help their line more than anybody.

[+] EnlargeChance Warmack
AP Photo/Dave MartinESPN's Matt Williamson says Alabama guard Chance Warmack would fill a glaring need for Arizona.
Sando: Arians and general manager Steve Keim think the line will be vastly improved this season for some of the reasons you outlined. I tend to agree. The line already improved once D'Anthony Batiste left the lineup. Beyond Arizona, you've got Seattle with the second-best line in the division. Was that a tough call for the second spot?

Williamson: I think you could make an argument between the Seahawks and the Rams O-lines. The Rams' line has been so bad for so long that it's easy to say they stink. But look at them player by player. They have four quality starters now that Jake Long is the left tackle. Age and/or injury is a big issue for three of the four. I think they should draft Warmack on Jonathan Cooper over a wideout. Add one of those guards to the line and you'd have five solid starters. Not many teams can say they have that.

Sando: There is definitely a tendency for people to pencil in a wide receiver for the Rams in the first round. If there is a truly elite WR prospect available, I'd have no problem with that. But there's absolutely no need to force a wideout in the first round. The Rams already have developmental prospects at the position. Using a first-round pick for another Brian Quick really wouldn't make sense if an immediate starter were available for the line.

Williamson: Guard is a bigger need than wideout, with safety being the biggest need. Rams fans will go crazy if they end up with Cooper and Kenny Vaccaro, but to me that would be a home run. Jared Cook is a wideout. Quick will be a good player. Givens already is good. He emerged. And if you can protect, Givens will be that much better.

Sando: Let's get back to the debate between Seattle and St. Louis for the No. 2 line in the division. The Seahawks have two Pro Bowlers on their line in center Max Unger and left tackle Russell Okung. They're not all that great elsewhere on the line.

Williamson: Seattle has the two best guys from either team's line. If you asked 100 people to rank these guys, 98 would put Seattle over St. Louis, but it's much closer than people think. That right side of the offensive line in Seattle scares me. Before the Percy Harvin trade, I would have said D.J. Fluker was who I would add to Seattle -- the biggest, nastiest pure right tackle and guard to compete with the physicality of the Niners.


Sando: The Seahawks don't have a first-round pick now, and I'm not sure they see the line as a primary need. For reference, NFC West teams have drafted 10 offensive linemen in the first three rounds over the past five drafts. Mike Iupati, Anthony Davis, Okung, Unger and Rodger Saffold became starters. Chilo Rachal, James Carpenter, John Moffitt, Jason Smith and John Greco haven't produced and have moved on in some cases.

Williamson: No picks for Arizona in there.

Sando: Right. That will presumably change this year. To your point about the right side of Seattle's line scaring you, we should note that right tackle Breno Giacomini gives the Seahawks a physical, nasty presence. He has played to negative reviews, but I think Seattle likes him.

Williamson: Breno has been serviceable. Marshawn Lynch has room to run. I think they have two good players and then a bunch of guys. I do think the whole is greater than sum of the parts. There is some truth to that in Seattle, which goes to coaching.

Sando: That really was true for the Rams last season as well. Adding Long lets them move Saffold to right tackle, an upgrade from Barry Richardson last season. Scott Wells' return to the lineup for the final seven games last season went under the radar a little bit. His presence for a full season could help Sam Bradford. But there are injury concerns across the board for the Rams on their line. Adding a starting guard through the draft would certainly improve the outlook.

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