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Friday, December 6, 2013
Morning Ram-blings: The other center

By Nick Wagoner

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In Thursday's coverage, we took an in-depth look at Rams center Tim Barnes as he prepares to take over for injured starter Scott Wells this week and likely over the final four weeks.

Barnes appears poised to handle the job barring an injury of his own, but that leaves the question of what happens should something happen to him? All signs point to rookie Barrett Jones, a fourth-round pick out of Alabama who has yet to be on the active roster on game day.

Although Jones has been stuck behind Wells and Barnes all season, some might wonder why, given his pedigree and draft position, Jones isn't getting a chance to step in. After all, Jones projects as a potential long-term starter in the middle, potentially even as soon as 2014.

For answers, one need only to see the answer Rams coach Jeff Fisher gave when asked how Jones has progressed this year.

“Barrett has done a real good job in the weight room, and he’s gained a lot of strength," 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.”

It's instructive to note that Fisher immediately pointed to Jones' work in the weight room rather than some sort of understanding of the playbook or on-field technique work. Coming into the league with a Lisfranc injury in his foot, the Rams originally viewed this year as something of a redshirt season for Jones anyway. Adding to that, the team wanted him to add strength and reshape his body before throwing him into the mix.

In the meantime, Jones has been inactive for each of the team's 12 games. This week, that could well change since the Rams have no other obvious options behind Barnes. The Rams would likely prefer to not have to use Jones, but he's certainly more suited to step in now if needed than he was in September.

I.C.Y.M.I. 

A roundup of Thursday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. … In the Ram-blings, we talked a little college football with the Rams' ties to the SEC championship game as the focus. … From there, we dived into some of the draft-related content on ESPN.com right now and discussed some possibilities for how things may play out as the season wraps up. … Next, it was the aforementioned story about Barnes and how he is handling the opportunity in front of him. … We then looked at he current Pro Bowl voting and how Rams punter Johnny Hekker is being left out of a mix he should firmly be in. … Last but not least it was the daily injury update.

Elsewhere: 

NFL Insider Mike Sando offers his weekly breakdown of the match ups with a look at the Rams-Cardinals game.

The NFL Live crew makes its picks for the Rams-Cardinals matchup.

Our resident fantasy expert Matthew Berry believes in Rams tight end Jared Cook this week for another big performance against Arizona.

At stltoday.com, columnist Bernie Miklasz writes that Rams fans have been awfully patient with little return on investment and wonders how much longer that will last.

Jim Thomas' interpretation of Barnes' story.

Joe Lyons chronicles Fisher's interest in the SEC title game.

Turf Show Times takes a look at the Rams' issues with drops, especially at receiver.