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  1. #1
    RamFan_Til_I_Die's Avatar
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    Friends do battle at center spot

    Friends do battle at center spot
    By Jim Thomas

    MEQUON, WIS. — Last year at this time it was Andy McCollum. This spring it was Mark Setterstrom. And now, as the Rams settle in at training camp, it's Richie Incognito.

    The Rams have done everything shy of calling for volunteers from the stands to make sure Brett Romberg has competition at the center spot.

    "Yeah, there's always going to be somebody," Romberg said, grinning. "I pretty much have a plan that it's going to be an uphill battle every year. You're always going to fight for your job. If you get lackadaisical, then somebody comes in and snatches you from behind."

    The twist this time is that the competition is coming from perhaps his best friend on the team in Incognito.

    "I've been friends with Richie ever since I got here," Romberg said. "He was my first guy — my 'road dog' — that I used to hang with all the time when I first got here."

    But Romberg is rooming with wide receiver Drew Bennett — not Incognito — this camp. And that has made it easier for some teammates and even coaches to tease Romberg and Incognito about their competition at center.

    "You can tell that there's a little bit of an 'atmosphere' going on about it," Romberg said. "We just sit and laugh about it. There's no hard feelings whatsoever. It's just that he's going to try to be the starter, and I'm going to try to be the starter."

    Because of a season-ending injury to McCollum, Incognito started 12 games at center in 2006, a year in which Romberg was a backup until the very end of the year. Guard is a more natural position for Incognito. He was slated to open 2007 as the Rams' starting right guard, but ankle and knee injuries limited him to four starts there.

    Not unlike Romberg, Incognito still feels he has plenty to prove.

    "There's a lot more for me to do," Incognito said. "I want to have a long career in this league. Injuries and things like that are just major setbacks. It's just time to step up to the plate."

    Whether it's center or guard, Incognito says he's comfortable.

    "It's just (that) they've got to let me know," he said. "I don't want to be jumping around — at the last second going to guard and going back to center. If they want me to play center, then leave me at center."

    In the early going at training camp, that's exactly what the Rams have done. Incognito has worked strictly at center. But so far, it has been strictly with the second team.

    "Right now, and I've told everybody at every position, don't worry so much about who's first string, second string," said Steve Loney, the Rams' new offensive line coach. "Because the '2s' and '1s' are getting nearly the same amount of reps, and I evaluate every practice film and go through things."

    But the time will come for the coaching staff to make a decision. Perhaps sooner rather than later.

    "Everything in our business is performance based," Loney said. "You take this thing and you go through probably the Tennessee game."

    (Which is the Rams' preseason opener Aug. 9.)

    "Then you're a month away from your (regular season) opener, and then you try to settle in on your evaluation at that point in time," Loney said.

    Listed at 318 pounds, Incognito provides more of a physical presence than Romberg, who's listed at 296. But Romberg has much more experience at center over the course of his college and NFL careers. After winning the starting job last season in a mild upset over McCollum, ankle injuries limited Romberg to nine starts.

    "They're in an extremely competitive situation right now," coach Scott Linehan said Sunday. "Brett's been good. He's one of the guys who has really showed up as being very, very consistent."

    And at the end of the day, Incognito could end up back at right guard, where Setterstrom currently is working with the first unit.

    "I've told them it doesn't make any sense to have one of the five best offensive linemen standing on the sideline with me," Loney said. "So we will find a way of having the five best offensive linemen start against Philadelphia (in the regular-season opener). That's all in the evaluation."

  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Friends do battle at center spot

    Whether it's center or guard, Incognito says he's comfortable.
    And so am I ... but ... I'd still rather see Richie at Guard and have Brett be our starting Center.

    Brett plays center well, he's proven himself (BTW, 300 pounds is what Andy McCollum played at too, I don't think that's an issue). Cog plays guard well and has been a starter there whereas Romberg is not experienced at that position. And as I've mentioned before, this setup frees / provides / yields another body to the Guard starting and/or depth post.

    In short, seems to me our OL needs Richie more at G than at C. Still, it's great to know he could play center if needed.

  3. #3
    Ramblin` Ram's Avatar
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    Re: Friends do battle at center spot

    ive always been against Cogs at Centre,since he arrived here!
    its not that i dont think he can play the position,its more to do with the fact i see him as the spear in our offensive line in running situations..where as the rest of the line are more pass protection if you put Richie at centre you taking away our spear!

    if ya know what i mean....i can get metorphorical on times i know...

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