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First-round pick finally ready for duty
ST. LOUIS - First-round pick Alex Barron is ready to play catch-up after ending his two-week holdout with the St. Louis Rams.
Barron watched the Rams' preseason opener, a 17-13 victory over the Chicago Bears on Friday night, from the sideline wearing jeans and a T-shirt. He agreed to a five-year contract two days earlier but didn't arrive in training camp until earlier on game day due to a problem with some lost luggage.
The offensive tackle from Florida State, the 19th pick of the draft, struggled in minicamp earlier this year at right tackle to the extent that coach Mike Martz demoted him from starter to backup. Barron was primarily a left tackle in college and footwork appeared to be an issue early.
Martz also was highly critical of Barron and his agent, Roosevelt Barnes, during the drawn-out negotiating period.
Now that he's finally in the fold, Barron doesn't expect repercussions. After Friday's game he said he hadn't talked to Martz yet but wasn't concerned about aftereffects.
"It was a learning experience," Barron said. "I mean, it's complicated. It took a while. I mean, it's done. We're ready to get it on."
Martz at times became exasperated during the negotiations, perhaps in part because injuries and rehabs kept all but one starter from last year, center Andy McCollum, on the sideline for the preseason opener. But Barron said it wasn't overly frustrating waiting for a deal to get done.
"I thought as long as I was working out and keeping in shape and keeping up with what was going on, I was fine," Barron said. "That part is over with. I'm here and ready to get on the field."
Barron didn't try to put a timetable on himself. Martz has said there's "no way" Barron will be ready to start in the season opener Sept. 11 in San Francisco.
"I'm just here to get out there and learn as much as I can as quick as I can," Barron said. "After that, you know, we'll just see what happens."
After his first look at Martz' complicated system in the minicamp, Barron knows it'll be an uphill battle at first.
"It's an extreme playbook," he said. "I mean, it's an extreme team. That's one of the things that comes with an NFL team, period. It's a lot to process, that's all."
Martz said perhaps the best thing to come out of the preseason opener was no one got hurt. Bears quarterback Rex Grossman broke his left ankle and will be sidelined three to four months.
"We came out of this thing clean," he said.
Several players sat out, among them offensive tackle Orlando Pace (calf), offensive guard Adam Timmerman (shoulders, foot), free safety Adam Archuleta (back), defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (back) and cornerback Jerametrius Butler (knee). All but Timmerman and Butler could be back for the next preseason game next Sunday at San Diego.
Butler has a torn ligament that he could possibly play with and is weighing that vs. season-ending surgery. Martz has said that Timmerman might not play until the last two preseason games.
To help keep the team healthy, Martz gave players Saturday and Sunday off, aside from some lifting the first day and a meeting the second day.
"They've done everything we've asked them to do, and we've put them in some tough situations on purpose," Martz said. "There's not much to be displeased with.
"It just seems like what we're doing in camp is the right thing."