False starts dogging Rams' young tackle
ST. LOUIS - Alex Barron says he's no different from any other player, trying to gain an advantage.
But the St. Louis Rams' young offensive tackle keeps getting caught anticipating the snap. According to the New York Times, the team's first-round pick in 2005 was the most penalized player in the NFL during his rookie season, and was whistled for a pair of costly false start infractions that killed a potential game-tying drive in last week's loss to the Chiefs.
"Everybody is looking for an edge and (to) get a good jump," Barron said Thursday. "Sometimes it can kick you in the butt."
Barron gets generally high marks from the coaching staff. Coach Scott Linehan described the 6-7, 315-pound player as an athletic if not overpowering blocker on both the run and pass, but also one who's making too many youthful mistakes.
"If you eliminate some of these penalty things, I think he's played pretty well," Linehan said. "He's still a young player and he still makes young player mistakes. We just have to get through those things that happen before the ball is snapped before we get to another level."
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson thinks a lack of confidence may be a factor. He said Barron has enough physical gifts, including quick feet and a massive wingspan, that he doesn't need to cheat on the snap count.
"He's probably one of the more athletic tackles in the league, so for him to think that he needs to gain an edge and get a quick jump, it's kind of ironic," Olson said. "We just kind of tell him 'You're a tackle in this league that can probably be a little bit late and be OK.'"
Barron disagrees that his problems have anything to do with lacking confidence.
"That has nothing to do with it, as far as me getting that extra step," Barron said. "It's not the fact that I don't think I can do something."
He also believes officials are watching him closer than other players. The second of his back-to-back false starts, Barron contends, was a bad call.
"I've seen the film," Barron said. "After he blew the whistle I was like 'Are you serious?' Just because I did it the play before they were looking for it, and I'm known for it so they're looking."
The solution? Linehan said it's about making players accountable for their actions.
"It's not OK," Linehan said. "He's got to fix it so the team has a better chance of being successful."
Barron said All-Pro tackle Orlando Pace has advised him to raise his concentration level, while suggesting a few other techniques. One of them might be waiting to make sure.
"I need to work on that, and a few other things," Barron said. "Right now it's kind of biting me."
A mitigating factor last week might have been crowd noise, even though the Rams were playing at home. A large contingent showed up to root for the cross-state Chiefs, prompting quarterback Marc Bulger to use a silent count at times.
"It seemed to calm them down a little bit and they were good with that," Bulger said. "Unfortunately, we weren't good at the regular count."
Notes: LB Pisa Tinoisamoa remained questionable with a broken left hand and dislocated left elbow but barring a setback should return to the lineup Sunday after missing two games. "He had another good day," Linehan said. "It's looking more and more positive for this week." ... Linehan said RB Kay-Jay Harris, signed earlier in the week after Tony Fisher was placed on injured-reserve with a knee injury, has a "very good" chance of playing Sunday. The Rams are very thin at running back.