center stage for Setterstrom?
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, Mar. 26 2008

It's not as if Mark Setterstrom can predict the future. But his idea to work at
the center position a couple of months ago might prove to be a good move.

Early in the offseason, Setterstrom was in St. Louis for a week of rehab work,
checking in with Rams trainers on the progress of his knee surgery in October.
When he returned home to Minnesota, Setterstrom took a football with him to
work at the center position.

This was long before Jacob Bell was on the Rams' horizon.

"I just thought it'd be a good thing to have in the back of my pocket — to work
on snapping," Setterstrom said, "in case I needed to slide over the center any
time this year."

Setterstrom was a rookie surprise in 2006, starting the final six games at left
guard. He opened the '07 campaign as the Rams' starting left guard but suffered
a season-ending knee injury in Game 3.

Besides continuing his rehab work from that surgery, Setterstrom worked on
snapping — particularly shotgun-formation snapping — with some of his former
college teammates at the University of Minnesota. Shotgun snapping wasn't just
an occasional way for Setterstrom to pass the winter months.

"I did that three days a week all winter," Setterstrom said. "So I'm feeling
pretty good at that."

Obviously, there's more to playing center than shotgun snapping.

"It's going to take some time to learn the techniques and the things that go
along with playing center," Setterstrom said. "But as far as learning the
offense and making the (line) calls, I think I should feel pretty comfortable
with that."

All the center work might come in handy because in the opening week of the free
agency period, the Rams signed Bell to a $36 million contract to play left
guard. Had Setterstrom not suffered the knee injury, he might still be the
Rams' starting left guard. But it happened, there's a new starter, and
Setterstrom chalks it up as part of the game.

"I don't really take it as a slap in the face,'' he said. "I think they wanted
to bring in some extra offensive line help, and it just happened to be at my
position. Just because they brought another guy in doesn't mean they don't want
me around. That's the way I'm taking it."

Setterstrom isn't sure if he'll be doing any work at guard once the team gets
to the organized team activities and minicamps in May and June.

"I talked to the coaches, and they said they want to give me a shot to develop
at center," he said. "I don't know where else that puts me, but I have to
imagine I'll work at both spots."

So Setterstrom, who never played center before at any level of football, will
compete with Brett Romberg and others for the starting center job. Five months
removed from surgery to repair a torn knee ligament, Setterstrom is on track
with his rehab. Tuesday marked the beginning of the Rams' offseason
conditioning program, and Setterstrom was able to do all the drills.

Like Setterstrom, teammate Richie Incognito made the transition from guard to
center, starting 12 games there in 2006.

"It's a big challenge," said Incognito, who was switched back to full-time
guard status in '07. "You get in a comfort level at a position. ... With
Setterstrom, I'm confident in his ability to play well (at center). It's just
about him building that comfort there, and getting in there and playing at a
high level through OTAs and minicamps."

If he does that, he could give Romberg a run for the starting job in training
camp.

jthomas@post-dispatch.com | 314-340-8197