He keeps getting hit with penalties
BY STEVE KORTE
News-Democrat
ST. LOUIS - Right tackle Alex Barron said he's just trying to get an edge, but the St. Louis Rams would prefer that he was a little slower out of the gate when the ball is snapped.

Barron has been flagged for four false start penalties in the last two games, including two on back-to-back plays that helped kill a key fourth-quarter drive in the Rams' 31-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday.

"He has to gain more confidence," Rams offensive coordinator Greg Olson said of Barron. "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 is kind of ironic.

"We just have to tell him, 'You're a tackle in this league that can probably be a little late and be OK. You don't have to worry about the quick start because you're athletic enough that you can recover if you do get off late."'

Barron said that he's no different than any other player trying to gain an advantage. He feels like he needs to get off the ball quickly in certain situations, even though his quick feet and 7-foot-6 wingspan should help him recover quickly against most pass rushers.

"Sometimes I think I have to get a good jump on somebody because they're trying to get a good jump on me," Barron said. "Right now, it's kind of biting me."

According to a New York Times survey of penalties, Barron was the most penalized player in the NFL last season with 18 penalties.

Barron has been flagged seven times this season, though only six of those penalties have counted since a tripping penalty against him during the team's season-opening win over Denver was declined.

"It's unfortunate," Olson said of Barron's penalties. "Obviously, it's an issue, and it has been an issue for a couple of years.

"We've addressed it, and we've emphasized it. We'll continue to address and emphasize it as a coaching staff."

Rams coach Scott Linehan put a major emphasis on eliminating pre-snap penalties during training camp. Yet, the Rams have committed 19 false start penalties this season, including 12 over their last four games.

"It's certainly not acceptable, and we talked about it as an offense," Linehan said. "It's an offensive goal to eliminate the pre-snap penalties, but they're hard to overcome. I've always believed that you are what you emphasize, and we have emphasized it.

"Certainly not well enough to this point, but we'll work very hard at it. That's the only way I know."

Linehan stopped far short of calling for Barron's benching.

"Barron is doing a lot of good things other than making a few errors, but he's not the only one," Linehan said. "He had a big part in all four of our victories, and up until this last game, he's had a pretty good year of keeping the quarterback clean as far as pass protection, and he has improved in the running game."

Barron disagreed with Olson's claim that the false starts were being caused by a lack of 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."

Barron, the 19th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, has stabilized what had been a long-time problem spot on the Rams' offensive line.

Other than the penalties, he feels like he has made great strides in his 1 1/2 seasons in the NFL.

"I'm not satisfied because I've had a few mistakes, but I'm working to clean it up," Barron said.