EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Asked about his matchup for this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long offered the normal show of respect for presumptive Jaguars right tackle Luke Joeckel.
Within hours, that potential matchup changed dramatically as Jacksonville dealt left tackle Eugene Monroe to Baltimore for draft picks with the intent to shift Joeckel to the left side. The Jaguars have two options to move into the right tackle spot: Cameron Bradfield, an undrafted free agent from 2011 with 12 starts at the position, and Austin Pasztor, who started three games at left guard in 2012 but is listed as the backup at right tackle.
In moving back to the left side, Joeckel figures to get comfortable a bit faster given that was his primary position in college at Texas A&M. In the first four weeks, Pro Football Focus had rated Joeckel slightly above average as a pass blocker but well below it in the run game. They have him down for allowing three sacks and 11 hurries in the first quarter of the season.
Now, Joeckel will draw Rams end Robert Quinn instead of Long, a difficult assignment considering Quinn's production this season. Quinn is one of the highest-rated 4-3 defensive ends in the league and leads the Rams with five sacks.
On the other side, this week could provide an opportunity for Long to get rolling. Slowed by an injury in the first few weeks, he's posted a half sack and Pro Football Focus has him down for two quarterback hits and eight hurries.
Bradfield is probably the most likely replacement because of his experience playing tackle. He has played just four snaps this season, far from a big enough sample size to draw any conclusions. He played a lot in 2012, though, and allowed six sacks, nine hits and 21 hurries in his dozen starts.
Pasztor has less experience than Bradfield, allowing a sack, two hits and five hurries in his three starts at left guard last season.
Entering the season, the Rams had hoped their pass rush would again be the driving force for the defense. It was just that in Week 1 and in the second half of Week 2 but they need more consistency from that group moving forward. The subtraction of Monroe, who was Jacksonville's best lineman, guarantees nothing but it certainly can't hurt.