MACOMB, Ill. - It may not be a pretty picture, but the news that offensive tackle Kyle Turley (four weeks) and center Dave Wohlabaugh (three months) will be out for extended periods at least clarifies the situation on the Rams' offensive line. Namely, that . . .
The left guard job is Andy King's to lose.
Unless he plays himself out of the spot, he will open the regular season in the starting lineup.
Tackle Grant Williams probably
gets moved to the starting job at right tackle whenever left tackle Orlando Pace shows up and is deemed ready to play.
And more than ever,
the Rams will rely on the Donut Bros. - Andy McCollum and Adam Timmerman - to keep the offensive line anchored and focused.
"Andy McCollum and Adam Timmerman have really done an outstanding job of leading our offensive line," line coach John Matsko said. "Adam is extremely consistent in his run blocking and pass protection, and he's very good in space - in his pulling and getting out there on his screens.
"Andy's very, very sharp on the calls. And the calls are very, very automatic to him. He reacts to what he sees as quickly as anybody."
McCollum played left guard last season but was switched back to center last spring after Wohlabaugh's hip surgery. Center hardly is a new position for McCollum - he started 52 regular-season and postseason games for the Rams there from 2000 through 2002.
"I definitely like having Andy back there," Timmerman said. "Not that Dave was bad at it, but Andy has been in the system longer, and Dave was new to it last year. So I think Andy's a little bit sharper on (line calls) and just communication. We're totally on the same page."
Wohlabaugh left camp last week for further evaluation of his right hip, on which he had surgery for a torn labrum March 5. The recommendation is that he continue to rest and rehab the hip for another three months. Even before Wohlabaugh rejoined the team Thursday, watching the Chicago game from the sidelines, Rams players knew his return to action wasn't imminent.
"I'm no doctor, but Dave looks like he's a long ways from (playing)," Timmerman said. "He's not exactly getting in a stance yet, and that's a long way from playing football."
Ditto for Turley, who aggravated a back condition the first few days of training camp and hasn't been in Macomb since. The recommendation on Turley is that he let the back rest and "calm down" for the next four weeks. That takes the Rams right up to their regular-season opener Sept. 12 against Arizona.
For the second camp in a row, Williams has been keeping the left tackle spot warm while Pace skips Macomb in a contract impasse. Last year, Williams returned to the bench once Pace reported. But that may not be the case this year; he may be headed to right tackle as soon as Pace shows.
"I would be wise if I anticipated that," Williams said. "Certainly, I have to be ready to go right, and that'll be fine."
Williams, who also experienced back problems last year in camp, is better equipped to handle extended playing time. Williams lost 30 pounds during the offseason, dropping from 330 pounds to 300.
"He's a lot quicker," Matsko said. "He's a better knee-bender. He has improved his pass-protection skills. He's playing a lot lower in the running game. We're really excited about him."
Williams lost the weight in part because it would help prevent his back problems from recurring.
"Just to feel truly healthy for the first time in two years was nice," Williams said after Thursday's 13-10 overtime loss to the Bears. "I'm looking forward to a week from Monday at Kansas City."
That's when the Rams play their next preseason game - Aug. 23.
With Williams at left tackle, King at left guard, McCollum at center, Timmerman at right guard and Scott Tercero at right tackle, the starting offensive line acquitted itself well against the Bears.
"Coming together like they have, they did a great job," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "They've been mixing and matching, and guys have been playing different positions. The only time I was touched, I think, was from a hot read, which they're not responsible for."
Blitzing Chicago linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer got past tight end Brandon Manumaleuna for a sack on the play in question.