Rams Notebook: Offensive line goes through changes

By Jim Thomas

Already missing two offensive line starters against Seattle, the Rams lost a third center Jason Brown to a sprained right knee just before halftime.

"I'm not sure if it was friendly fire, or from our opponents," Brown said after Sunday's 27-17 loss. "But someone rolled into the back of my legs, and I got my knee tweaked. It was quite puffy at halftime."

It was the same knee Brown injured in Game 2 against Washington. Brown was able to return in that contest. But after suffering the injury on the final play before the 2-minute warning against Seattle, Brown did not return.

"I think there was still a little bit of scar tissue up in there," he said. "I definitely heard some crunching. ... It's tender, but I don't think anything is torn."

The Rams already were missing right tackle Jason Smith and right guard Richie Incognito because of injuries, with Adam Goldberg starting for Smith and Mark Setterstrom filling in for Incognito.

When Brown went down, Setterstrom moved over to center, with John Greco coming off the bench to play right guard. It all made for an interesting day for Setterstrom, who was making his first start since Game 3 of the 2007 season.

"It's been a while since I started a game, so I was excited to do so," Setterstrom said. "But basically it wasn't any different in my preparations. Every week, I'm one or two plays away (from playing), so I've just got to be ready to go."

Except for one series in place of Brown in the Washington game, Setterstrom had not played center in an NFL regular-season game until Sunday. At least on the practice field, Setterstrom has been the Rams' backup center all season, so he said he felt comfortable making line calls Sunday.

Seattle threw a lot at Setterstrom and the rest of the Rams' blockers with an aggressive blitz package that intensified as the Seahawks built up a 27-10 lead.

"We got into a situation where they could be aggressive," Setterstrom said. "You know, they got ahead of us. But in reality, they weren't really doing anything different than what we had seen on film. They just were doing it more numerous times. ... Our quarterback got hit way too many times. We've got to clean that up."


Rookie offensive tackle Jason Smith was hospitalized briefly Sunday after experiencing nausea and headaches during the game. According to team officials, Smith had a CAT scan, which was negative, and was sent home.

Smith was on the Rams' pregame inactive list because of a concussion suffered last week against Arizona and watched the game in street clothes on the sideline. The CAT scan was taken as a precautionary measure because nausea and headaches are common post-concussion symptoms.


With fullback Mike Karney sitting out Sunday's game because of a neck injury, tight end Billy Bajema was pressed into service at fullback.

Bajema said he lined up occasionally in the backfield with the ***** before joining the Rams via free agency last offseason, but nothing like Sunday's extended time as Steven Jackson's lead blocker.

"It was a different experience getting in there and lead blocking," Bajema said. "I enjoy that; I like the physical aspect of the game. You've got to be able to run in there and bring it to those linebackers on the (isolation) blocks, and just be ready for some big contact."