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  1. #1
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    Barron's move fits his goals

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Sep. 23 2007

    Alex Barron is fully aware of whose size 16EEE shoes he's trying to fill.

    "Seven-time Pro Bowler, future Hall of Famer," Barron mused. "Big O has made
    his mark on the league; people know who he is. I'm just trying to come in and
    do my best."

    Orlando Pace, a mainstay at left tackle since the Rams made him the No. 1
    overall draft pick in 1997, is on the shelf for the second consecutive season,
    the victim of a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener.

    When Pace went down last November with a torn triceps, the Rams had veteran
    Todd Steussie to fill in. They didn't have that option this time: Steussie is
    out indefinitely after breaking a bone in his foot during an exhibition game.

    Thus, there was little hesitation to turn to Barron, who has started 29 of 30
    games at right tackle after the Rams selected him in the first round (No. 19)
    overall in 2005.

    Shifting sides isn't as easy as it might seem.

    "It changes the way you think," said Paul Boudreau, the Rams' offensive line
    coach. "If you're looking across at a guy and you're a right tackle, you're
    going to kick out with your right foot, all your weight's on your left foot,
    you want to hit him with your outside hand or maybe your inside hand based on
    the play.

    "And then all of a sudden you flip over to the left side and your whole
    mind-set changes: 'I've always kicked out to the right, I've always hit with my
    right hand. Now, over here I've got to kick with my left foot.' It's just
    different."

    The position also comes with added responsibility. The left tackle is charged
    with protecting a righthanded quarterback's blind side, from which the most
    vicious hits originate.

    Coach Scott Linehan said Rams quarterback Marc Bulger "has to count on that
    guy, and Alex's No. 1 ability is to pass-protect. He's become a lot better
    run-blocker as he's progressed."

    Barron played mostly on the left side at Florida State, where he was a two-time
    consensus All-American. In the NFL, however, he'd been there for only part of
    one game (in 2005 at Houston when Pace went out with leg and hip injuries)
    before switching for last Sunday's contest vs. San Francisco.

    "You could see some rust," Boudreau said. "There was a little bit of tentative
    play, as far as not making a mistake. This week, he seems much more natural."

    Shuffling on the offensive line is nothing new for the Rams: When they send out
    Barron and Adam Goldberg at the tackles, Mark Setterstrom and either Claude
    Terrell or Milford Brown at the guards, and Brett Romberg at center Sunday at
    Tampa Bay, it'll be the 21st different configuration since Bulger took over as
    the team's primary quarterback in 2002.

    "It's hard," Barron conceded. "But injuries happen to everybody ... some more
    than others. We just try to work through it and do the best we can."

    The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Barron is as unflappable as he is athletic: He can
    sprint 40 yards in 4.82 seconds and has a vertical leap of 38 inches. He speaks
    in a low monotone and often appears to have little interest in the conversation.

    "He's quiet, and sometimes you don't really know if he's listening," Boudreau
    said. "But then when you ask him a question, he can give you the answer."

    With a shrug, Barron said, "I've been like that ever since I was a young boy. I
    don't really plan on changing."

    He perks up when the competition ramps up, noted Terrell, Barron's closest
    friend among his teammates. Even on the bowling lanes.

    "We've been having this little mini-rivalry going, three-on-three with me, Alex
    and Eric Moore vs. Dominique Byrd, Dominique Thompson and Marques Hagans,"
    Terrell said. Barron, he said, simply hates to lose.

    That attitude began to develop in tiny Orangeburg, S.C., where basketball was
    Barron's first passion. His parents — Alex Sr. and Lucinda — are teachers; his
    father also coached the basketball team at Wilkinson High.

    Barron was asked to walk on to the basketball squad after his freshman year at
    Florida State, but football coach Bobby Bowden wasn't enamored of the idea. "So
    I just kind of left (basketball) alone," Barron said.

    That proved to be a wise, and lucrative, decision. Barron's original five-year
    deal with the Rams is worth $9.2 million. He'll make much more if he
    establishes himself as a top-tier left tackle.

    "That's what I want to work to," said Barron, 24. "You want to excel and be at
    your best." With a rare smile, he added, "And you know what they say: (Left
    tackle) is where the bread's at."

    That prospect is well within Barron's potential, Boudreau stressed.

    "Absolutely," he said. "As far as natural talent goes, the future is bright for
    him. He could be as good as he wants to be."


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    Re: Barron's move fits his goals

    LOT is Barron's natural position. He has more ability to play LOT than almost every starting LOT in the NFL. I'm betting he settles into the position and plays at a high level for a long time.

    Pace should not be given his old spot back next year. If he returns, he should play ROT or we should trade him.

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