Wells' return Means Line Finally Intact
Wells' return means line finally intact
12 hours ago • By Jim Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org
Saffold, Turner, Wells, Dahl and Richardson. Those were the Rams’ five offensive line starters way back when, in the season opener Sept. 9 in Detroit.
Center Scott Wells suffered a fractured foot in that game and was done by halftime. Left tackle Rodger Saffold went down with a knee injury the following week against Washington, and there were other injuries and line permutations along the way. As the weeks rolled by, the Rams had four additional starters up front and four different line combinations.
Saffold returned to action two weeks ago in San Francisco after missing six games. And now, for the first time since Sept. 9, it looks very much like the Rams are back to Saffold, Turner, Wells, Dahl and Richardson — the players deemed the best five on opening day. The group is back intact with Wells activated from the injured reserve/designated for return list this week after missing nine games.
“It felt good to be able to go out there and practice every day with the first team,” Wells said after Friday’s practice. “Get back out on the field with the guys, get out of the training room.”
This is far from the first rodeo for Wells, a seventh-round draft pick by Green Bay in 2004. Sunday’s 3:15 p.m. (St. Louis time) kickoff at Arizona marks his 110th NFL start — regular-season and postseason games included.
“I’m excited to be back out there,” Wells said. “Watching is not fun for me; it’s not in my makeup. So I’d much rather be out on the field. I’m excited for this opportunity and looking forward to taking advantage of it.”
With two-plus months of recovery and rehab time after foot surgery, Wells has been knocking the rust off the last two weeks in practice, first as the scout team center leading up to the New York Jets game and this week with the Rams’ first-team offense.
“He’s just another solid guy up front,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “He went to the Pro Bowl. We expect him to come in and play at a high level, and hopefully just bring those guys up front together.”
Wells, 31, made his first Pro Bowl last season as a Green Bay Packer, then signed a four-year, $24 million free-agent contract with the Rams. But knee surgery sidelined him for most of the spring practice period, as well as most of training camp and the preseason. Then came the foot injury in the season opener.
One of the first orders of business this week for Wells and Bradford was getting in sync on snaps.
“The biggest thing for me is learning to take snaps from him,” Bradford said. “Obviously, I’ve taken snaps from Rob (Turner) for the past nine, ten weeks. They snap it in a different way.”
For his part, Wells said he and Bradford made a lot progress “day-to-day” in that area. “I feel able and confident and comfortable with what we’re doing,” Wells said. “I think he feels comfortable with me. So we’ll go out there and move forward.”
Whether it’s snapping, making the line calls, or just plain blocking, Wells is jumping into the deep end in his return because of the competition. Arizona enters the game ranked ninth in the NFL in total defense. The Cardinals are very effective at interior blitzes, particularly inside linebacker Daryl Washington. Wells will spend much of his day going head-to-head with capable nose tackle Dan Williams, as well as Pro Bowler Darnell Dockett in passing situations.
But the Rams brought Wells in for just these types of challenges, because of his skill, strength, and savvy.
“There’s a quickness level there,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said of Wells. “Here’s a guy that has a wrestling background. He’s quick, bunch of experience. I think you put him in there and his ability just to kind of drive the whole ship, take charge, and to get on people has been great. I’m real proud of how he’s worked throughout the injury, getting his mind caught up. It will be nice to have him out there this week.”
With Wells back at center, Turner is free to return to the position he manned in the season opener — left guard. Turner downplayed the adjustment process in returning to guard this week, even though he has spent the past nine games at center.
“I’ve played left guard before,” Turner said with a shrug. “It’s practice, you know? We’ve got adjustments. It’s a different defense that we saw last week. Guys shuffled around. I think as the week went on, we got progressively better as far as execution, timing, things of that nature.”
Obviously, it won’t be practice on Sunday. It’ll be one of the NFL’s better defenses.
“The key is that everyone of us, no matter what five are out there, is just having each other’s back and just making yourself better and making the guy next to you better,” Turner said.
Re: Wells' return Means Line Finally Intact
I just hope intact translates to effective, functioning unit.
Re: Wells' return Means Line Finally Intact
Robert Turner is my favorite Rams O-lineman. I fully believe he will have any sort of problem transitioning back to LG.
I hope Wells won't be too rusty.