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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Saffold Passes First Test

    Saffold Passes First Test
    By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

    Posted 20 hours ago

    The thought of a rookie starting at a high profile position against a fierce defense intent on throwing everything it has at you could easily have altered the way the Rams thought going into last week’s opener against Arizona.

    Fortunately for the Rams, left tackle Rodger Saffold was up to the challenge. What, you thought that was a reference to someone else?

    While much of the attention in the buildup to the opener was on rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, Saffold faced a tall order of his own in his NFL debut.

    With Arizona sackmaster Joey Porter his main matchup for most of the day, Saffold faced a daunting task both physical and mental.

    “He really didn’t say anything to me because I didn’t really talk much,” Saffold said. “He said a little bit to me but then after that he was like ‘Well, this isn’t that much fun because he’s not talking back.’ So I just pretty much tried to do my job and go back to the huddle.”

    As if facing off against the talkative and talented Porter wasn’t enough of a Herculean task, Saffold also had the job of getting past any butterflies he might have going into his first game.

    That’s one area Saffold says he took care of before the first ball was ever snapped.

    “It was right before the game, coming out, I saw the flames, I saw the smoke,” Saffold said. “I ran out to the middle of the field and I was like ‘Whoa, this is it.’ Then the lights came on. It was cool because you get so energetic when you run out there but at least the national anthem and everything made me calm down.”

    Saffold did indeed calm down with plenty of reasons to do so. Wearing the familiar No. 76 and lining up at left tackle in the spot manned by Rams legend Orlando Pace for so long, Saffold was performing with his idol in the building as the Rams honored Pace late in the game.

    Arizona entered the game with a defensive game plan intent on confusing and battering Bradford but for every exotic blitz package and disguised coverage that Bradford had to deal with, it was Saffold and his linemates that had to account for them.

    “(There were) a lot of people in different positions and I even went on the other side against (Darnell) Dockett a little bit too,” Saffold said. “So I was going against everybody and making sure that I understand the full, big picture. That’s the only way to be effective because sometimes you have got to be able to grab things on the run, especially safety blitzes and things like that.”
    By his own admission as well as the evaluation from coach Steve Spagnuolo, Saffold had a couple of miscues in his first start including a tendency to fall for pass rush moves that start on the outside and come to the inside.

    “He had a couple issues where he misfired, but for a rookie going in there and playing left tackle, I thought he did a pretty good job,” Spagnuolo said.

    Saffold agreed with his coach’s take, saying that when he arrived at work on Monday, he had some corrections to make. Overall, though, he was pleased with his performance and still graded out pretty well.

    “I thought I did pretty well,” Saffold said. “I definitely think there are some things I need to work on. There are a lot of shifts, a lot of movements that game that I needed to attend to the next day in the corrections meeting and now I just feel better about playing next week. I think I got a good view of how to play throughout a game not just the first half or first series.”

    In addition to the many shifts and blitzes the Cardinals used, Saffold also had to get used to the constant chatter of Porter, who worked tirelessly to bait Saffold and get into his head.

    At one point, Porter even used Rams running back Steven Jackson as his proxy, telling Jackson he wouldn’t be able to accomplish much running behind Saffold.

    But Saffold laughed off the attempts to get him to crack and said he stuck to the advice of his older teammates who told him not engage Porter in anything but a block.

    “Being a rookie left tackle it’s pretty huge to be able to battle somebody especially with his experience so I guess he knew that if he got me talking to him I would get flustered and it’d be a long day,” Saffold said. “(The veterans) said don’t be talking because you can be talking to somebody and get to the line and forget the play. I wasn’t going to let that happen.”

    When it was all said and done, though, Saffold had held his own and did not back down from his first assignment. Porter was held without a sack and was cordial to the rookie after the game.

    Riding the wave of emotion after a difficult loss, Saffold took some time to reflect on his first game but says it wasn’t until he woke up Monday morning that he realized just how much of a toll his job can take.

    “When I woke up the next day I felt like I got hit by a truck so it was definitely something that I was like ‘OK, this is a true battle on the field,’” Saffold said. “I loved it.”


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Saffold Passes First Test

    Rookie QB, Rookie LT and we only lost by 4. Actually could have or should have won by 6 at least.

    Things are looking up!

  3. #3
    OldSchoolRamFan's Avatar
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    Re: Saffold Passes First Test

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    “He really didn’t say anything to me because I didn’t really talk much,” Saffold said. “He said a little bit to me but then after that he was like ‘Well, this isn’t that much fun because he’s not talking back.’ So I just pretty much tried to do my job and go back to the huddle.”
    These are the kinds of things I really enjoy hearing and go right to the heart of the "four pillars" concept. This is exactly opposite of the type of thing we had to experience coming from Cogs and all this from a rookie playing in game one. I really believe that our offensive line is going to be a great foundation for the future coupled with the right talent AND the right attitude.
    Steve

    What you see is what you get, but what you see depends on where you stand.

  4. #4
    shower beers's Avatar
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    Re: Saffold Passes First Test

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSchoolRamFan View Post
    These are the kinds of things I really enjoy hearing and go right to the heart of the "four pillars" concept. This is exactly opposite of the type of thing we had to experience coming from Cogs and all this from a rookie playing in game one. I really believe that our offensive line is going to be a great foundation for the future coupled with the right talent AND the right attitude.
    Yeah Cogs would have definitely thrown a head butt or two.

  5. #5
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Saffold Passes First Test

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSchoolRamFan View Post
    These are the kinds of things I really enjoy hearing and go right to the heart of the "four pillars" concept. This is exactly opposite of the type of thing we had to experience coming from Cogs and all this from a rookie playing in game one. I really believe that our offensive line is going to be a great foundation for the future coupled with the right talent AND the right attitude.
    I agree completely. Saffold has a great attitude and has embraced every challenge with an attack mentality, wheras an Alex Barron hemmed and hawed when challenged to do even the simplest thing.

    I also agree that the line can be a great foundation, as long as they (knock on wood) stay healthy.

  6. #6
    NJ Ramsfan1 is online now Registered User
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    Re: Saffold Passes First Test

    I concur with both of you guys. Good to see a rookie have the poise and the presence of mind to not engage Porter in a lot of smack talk. That doesn't win ballgames. Hopefully, this is the start of a good career for Saffold.

    Billy Devaney has vested a lot of time and money into the offensive line. It is time for that line to collectively show something. Smith and Saffold have to establish themselves as the pillars management thought they'd be.

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