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Offensive linemen get off the 'streets'
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Thursday, Nov. 15 2007
Granted, much of it had to do with Marc Bulger getting the ball out quickly and
with pinpoint accuracy. Obviously, having a (relatively) healthy Steven Jackson
going for four quarters was huge.
But in a results-oriented business such as the NFL, it's hard to ignore the
contributions of the Rams' offensive line in last Sunday's upset victory over
New Orleans. When you post season highs in points scored (37) and yards gained
(409), there's plenty of credit to go around.
When one considers the career paths of many of the blockers used by the Rams,
it makes what happened Sunday all the more glaring. Four of the six offensive
linemen employed by the Rams in the Superdome actually were unemployed at some
point this season.
"To come in and start in the NFL after being here only a month or so is pretty
amazing," Bulger said.
To summarize, starting left guard Milford Brown was signed by the Rams three
days into training camp (July 29). Starting right tackle Brandon Gorin was
added Sept. 12. Starting right guard Nick Leckey signed Oct. 6. Rob Petitti,
who split time with Gorin against New Orleans, was signed Oct. 24.
It was far from an ideal situation. But for one week at least, it worked
"I remember a lot of people last week were dogging the guys that were in
there," said center Brett Romberg, who missed the Saints game with an ankle
injury. "I read some things on the Internet about: 'Who are these guys? What
are they going to do?' But those are the guys that ended up blocking for over
100 yards (rushing), and keeping Marc clean, and winning a football game."
The Saints had held seven consecutive teams to fewer than 100 yards rushing
entering the game, which tied a New Orleans franchise record. But the Rams
finished with 133 yards rushing behind that makeshift line, which also included
Alex Barron at left tackle and Andy McCollum at center.
"They just really scrapped and played hard," offensive coordinator Greg Olson
said. "They're guys that really value having a job here in St. Louis. They're
fighting to try to make an impression, and it was good to see some of those
guys that were on the street really compete very, very well."
Given their humble origins, if the group continues to play like it did against
New Orleans, a nickname might be in order.
The Mongrels. ... The Streetfighters. ... The Castoffs. ... The Recently
"We all know that we were on the streets," Leckey said. "I don't know what you
would call us. The O-line. The St. Louis Rams. That's our name."
Leckey just might be the poster boy for the group. Although listed at 6-3, 291
pounds, he looks m-u-c-h smaller.
"I'm bigger than him," Jackson said. "Last week, I asked him how much he
weighed, and he said, 290, 295. I said, 'If he's 295, then I don't even want to
know how much I weigh.' "
Only fitting then, that offensive line coach Paul Boudreau calls Leckey, "The
It's not as if Leckey & Co. have no NFL experience. Leckey started 20 games for
the Arizona Cardinals over the 2005 and '06 seasons before falling out of
favor. Gorin started in the Super Bowl at right tackle for New England against
Philadelphia three seasons ago. Petitti started 16 games and played every
offensive snap as a rookie right tackle for Dallas in 2006.
"Whenever you're on the streets, as they call it, it's a weird feeling," Leckey
said. "It kind of feels like the offseason. ... So it was tough for me when I
was back in Arizona, just watching games on TV. I couldn't do it.
"Basically, I had to stay in shape and just realize where I'm at. Once I came
here (to St. Louis), I was fortunate. I was like, 'You know what? These guys
wanted me here, so I'm going to have to perform my best for these guys.'"
Adding to the surreal nature of the performance against New Orleans was that
unusual right tackle rotation. In the NFL, offensive linemen almost never split
time — at least not in the regular season. By unofficial count, Gorin was in
for 30 plays and Petitti for 41 against the Saints. Petitti was in for more
plays only because he was on the field for a couple of longer drives.
"We were told during the week (by the coaching staff) that we were going to
rotate," Petitti said. "They gave us the responsibility of rotating ourselves."
Gorin looks more like a prototype tackle, with long arms and a leaner frame.
Petitti, at 327 pounds, is more of a banger.
Not wishing to mess with success, coach Scott Linehan said Wednesday that his
inclination was to continue the Gorin-Petitti rotation and to give Leckey
another start at right guard this week against San Francisco.
"It worked for one game, one week," Linehan said. "We just keep finding ways to
settle in on what we think's the best way to win."
Re: Offensive linemen get off the 'streets'
The O-line was the reason we lost to the Whiners earlier this season. Bulger was hit numerous times and sacked 6 times. If the O-line plays anywhere near the level of last Sunday we will win this Sunday for sure.
Re: Offensive linemen get off the 'streets'
I wonder if Barron will be moved back to RT when Stuessie returns?
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