Center Battle Still Taking Shape
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
One of the most watched and talked about debates heading in to this year’s training camp is the developing battle for the starting center job between veteran Andy McCollum and the emerging Brett Romberg.
Six days into camp, it would stand to reason that perhaps one player has pulled ahead of the other and has the inside track on the job. Not so, according to coach Scott Linehan.
“It’s going to be one of those battles that will take place really when we start playing games,” Linehan said. “We evaluate it during practice with all players. But I think when we start playing games it will start to materialize.”
In other words, it’s too soon to come to any kind of conclusion about who will win the job. When McCollum returned from his knee injury early in the offseason, he took most of the repetitions with the first team offense in the full squad minicamp.
But entering training camp, Linehan wanted to have both centers get plenty of work with the first team offense. So, McCollum and Romberg were instructed to police themselves and split the reps.
So far, they have split those reps right down the middle, though McCollum has been given some addition rest time because of Linehan’s idea to rest selected veterans who are at or over a certain age.
That has helped McCollum stay fresh and it has allowed Romberg to get his share of the work, also.
While it might be too early to get a read on who is winning the battle, the duo’s teammates are keeping a keen eye on how the battle for the job is shaking out.
“I have worked with Andy a ton and I know he has done a great job and Brett coming in and doing what he did,” quarterback Marc Bulger said. “It’s a good problem to have. We haven’t had a lot of depth on the line. We will find a way to make it work.”
The Rams are also trying to bring rookie Dustin Fry along, as well. Fry has been getting work at both guard and center and is probably a year away from being in the mix. That means the battle will certainly come down to Romberg or McCollum.
Running back Steven Jackson is happy about the competition in front of him.
“You have a young guy that’s hungry and you have a seasoned vet that knows what to do and still has that passion to play, so whatever way we go, I don’t think we can go wrong,” Jackson said. “To have insurance of knowing both guys are capable of stepping up, that’s what you want.
One way or another, the Rams will have a pair of talented and ready to play centers by the time the regular season rolls around.
“These tough decisions are good problems to have,” Linehan said. “Great competitors know that it is part of the game and both of them are understanding and have been working very very hard and have improved from where they are in the offseason.”
C’ING LEADERS: For the first time, the NFL has decided to recognize the importance of captains on every team.
To that end, the league is allowing every team to recognize up to five captains with a patch on their jersey. The patch will be a part of each team’s color scheme and will be affixed to the front of the jersey.
Teams are allowed to name up to five “permanent” captains who can handle the duties of a captain for the full season. Those captains are the only ones allowed to wear the patch on the jersey.
The patches are expected to be in place in time for the start of the regular season and possibly as early as the third preseason contest.
INJURY UPDATES: Linebacker Chris Draft is nearing a return, but he still has a little hump to get over before he can get back on the field.
Draft has a precautionary test on the treadmill tomorrow to get cleared. Linehan said he expects Draft back by Friday.
Linebacker Tim McGarigle and tight end Joe Klopfenstein are dealing with hamstring injuries. Linehan said he expects McGarigle back late next week and Klopfenstein early next week.
Defensive tackle Tim Sandidge suffered a knee sprain during Wednesday’s practice. Linehan said he will be checked out this evening.
Linebacker Jon Alston took a shot to the head in Tuesday’s night practice and is being monitored closely over the next few days.
RAM BITS: Quietly, linebacker Brandon Chillar continues to outperform his public perception. Chillar had a better season than given credit for and Linehan singled him out after Wednesday’s practice for continuing his solid performance in this training camp…there will be an open practice tomorrow morning at 9 and Saturday’s practice is scheduled to be a scrimmage at 10:05 a.m…running back Brian Leonard continues to work in just about every situation for every package and has been told he will get some time at fullback this season in addition to his other roles.
Re: Center Battle Still Taking Shape
Looking forward to this battle. Anytime you plan on having a good battle between two (possibly three) position guys, that means you are blessed with more than one player who is good enough to start, usually.
Re: Center Battle Still Taking Shape
I like that about Chillar. He doesnt necessarily stand out, but he is totally solid. And thats what we need in certain positions on defense, just someone to do the job right.