posted on September 04, 2012 01:23
Me thinks Paul Boudreau has his work cut out for him.
It was going to be hard enough anyway, but after the Rams’ almost mind-numbing roster machinations over the weekend, the team’s offensive line coach is now trying to piece together an offensive line that will have someone starting at left guard Sunday against Detroit that hasn’t had any snaps with the first team this summer at that position.
Now, don’t get me wrong; the world won’t stop spinning on its axis because Quinn Ojinnaka was cut Sunday. But if that was a possibility, might it not have been a thought to have someone else play left guard in the four preseason games?
Consider this: Throughout the offseason OTAs and minicamps, Bryan Mattison got virtually all of the reps with the first unit at left guard. That was partly because Ojinnaka saw time at left tackle with Rodger Saffold not having been cleared for practice.
When training camp opened, Ojinnaka was the left guard, and he never budged. Mattison started at right guard in the third preseason game because Harvey Dahl was out with a virus. Robert Turner, who started the first two games because of Scott Wells’ knee injury, started the preseason finale at right guard.
Now, it seems likely Turner will be the left guard against the Lions unless Boudreau wants to take a chance at starting raw rookie Rok Watkins on the road in what promises to be a loud Ford Field.
Offensive line play is about chemistry and communication. Chemistry this line doesn’t have and communication is always harder in loud road stadiums.
Wells and Dahl have played two games this summer and none together. Whoever lines up to Wells’ left will be someone he hasn’t played with.
Turner started three games, but not at left guard. Watkins has played, but not with the first team. Any idea what the over-under will be for false starts? Right tackle Barry Richardson has had a few of those already, but I guess it’s better to get a false start than get quarterback Sam Bradford killed.
This line will have to protect Bradford, who has a green undrafted free agent as his backup. The Detroit secondary is vulnerable, but Bradford will have to get some time. It appears the Lions will start Drayton Florence at quarterback, and he just signed Sunday after being released by Denver.
Yes, it will be a busy afternoon for Steven Jackson.
Speaking of that green undrafted free agent: We all were impressed with the job Austin Davis did during the preseason. But, it was against deep backups. It is unprecedented for a team to enter the season with an undrafted rookie free agent as the No. 2 quarterback. I don’t know if that’s ever happened in recent NFL history.
Sure, Kellen Clemens threw a bad interception against Baltimore, but he's a veteran that has experience in coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's offense.
Last week, coach Jeff Fisher said, "Austin's done a great job. He's picked up this offense, which is not easy to do in a short time and he's done a good job. But Kellen's been in this offense for six or seven years and he has a good sense, a good feel for it." Guess not a good enough feel.
While still with the Falcons, general manager Les Snead said he scouted Davis at Southern Mississippi last season because the team was looking for a backup to Matt Ryan.
Snead said on the TV broadcast last Thursday, "Just what you've seen (this summer) is what I saw. He's just a winner and he makes plays."
So far, on the NFL level, he’s only done that in the preseason against very few players that are even on rosters now.
Surely, the Rams have told Clemens not to venture too far from his phone. If anything happens to Bradford, that phone will likely be ringing.
Roster notes: The current 53-man Rams roster has 16 rookies, including six undrafted free agents. There are 21 players with one year of experience or less. Only 22 players were under contract to the Rams at the end of the 2011 season and six of those were on injured reserve.
There are also 21 players on the roster that weren’t drafted. Nine entered the NFL with the Rams and 12 with other teams.
Rams: 2012 -- Quarterback Austin Davis, defensive tackle Matthew Conrath, cornerback Quinton Pointer, safeties Rodney McLeod and Matthew Daniels, punter Johnny Hekker. 2011 -- Long snapper Jake McQuaide. 2010 -- Defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo, safety Darian Stewart.
Other teams: 2012 – Tackle Ty Nsekhe (Colts, played four seasons of indoor football). 2011 – Tight end Mike McNeill (Colts). 2010 – Linebacker Justin Cole (Chiefs), defensive tackle Kellen Heard (Raiders). 2009 – Fullback Brit Miller (Panthers). 2008 – Wide receiver Danny Amendola (Cowboys), tight end Matthew Mulligan (Dolphins), linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar (Saints). 2007 – Center/guard Robert Turner (Jets), safety Craig Dahl (Giants). 2005 – Guard Harvey Dahl (Cowboys). 2003 – Safety Quintin Mikell (Eagles).