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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Of all the ways to describe last season for the Rams’ offensive line – and there are many – the best one might be transition.

    In a year that saw injuries across the board, ranging from season-enders for left tackle Orlando Pace and center Andy McCollum to a streak-ender for right guard Adam Timmerman, the Rams were forced to make adjustments all over the line.

    Those adjustments led to a mix of youth and experience that came together to pave the way for one of the most balanced offenses in the league and a breakthrough year for running back Steven Jackson.

    With free agency set to begin on March 2, the Rams’ needs along the offensive line seem to be less than other areas of the team. Assuming Pace returns healthy from an arm injury (he is expected to be rehabed and ready for training camp), the team should be set at tackle. Alex Barron will return for his third season at right tackle and though he continued to have issues with pre-snap penalties, he has proved to be a talented blocker.

    It’s the interior of the line that could see the biggest turnover in 2007. By the end of the season, the two guard spots and the center position were manned by a trio of players with less than a year of experience each.

    Rookie Mark Setterstrom was at left guard with Brett Romberg at center and Richie Incognito at right guard. All three proved to be more than capable and gave the running game a boost.

    Incognito worked at center and both guard spots, but the Rams see his future at guard more than center. The physical Incognito showed flashes of brilliance and could be on his way to becoming one of the league’s best and most powerful guards. There’s little doubt Incognito will be one of the line’s starters at one of the interior positions next season.

    Setterstrom was one of the most pleasant surprises, coming from the seventh round of the NFL Draft to a more than capable blocker by the end of the year. Setterstrom still needs some work as a pass blocker, but made enough of an impression to be in the mix for a starting guard position.

    Romberg had the shortest time frame to prove himself, but could be a long term answer in the middle. Still, Romberg is a bit on the small side and there’s a good chance he will get a long look in the offseason to win the job.

    Behind that quintet is a group of experienced veterans and a couple of youngsters with potential. McCollum is expected to return from a knee injury he suffered in the season opener and has designs on getting his job back.

    Timmerman suffered a variety of injuries last season, but continued problems with ribs ended his long streak of consecutive games. Timmerman has long been a warrior for the Rams and was in better shape last season than in previous years. Still capable, he could be brought back to compete for a position again.

    Todd Steussie proved to be an excellent backup and fill-in starter in 2006, finally giving the Rams the third tackle they have lacked. Steussie is a free agent, but the Rams have made it clear they’d like him back. His leadership for the youngsters on the line was invaluable and he was solid in replacing Pace for most of the season. Steussie has said he would like to return, but will explore possible options for starting first.

    Adam Goldberg was a late training camp addition and will be back as a utility man capable of playing anywhere on the line. Larry Turner could also return to compete.

    Should the Rams delve into free agency looking for help on the offensive line; it will be limited to a few spots. The possibility of looking for a center is strong. Dallas’ Andre Gurode is a possibility, though the Cowboys would like to retain the Pro Bowler. Among others who could be of interest are New York’s Shaun O’Hara, San Diego’s Cory Withrow and the expected to be released Damien Woody of Detroit.

    Another possibility would involve moving Incognito back to center and pursuing a guard. That isn’t as likely as the team looking for a center to compete with McCollum and Romberg.

    Regardless, the Rams feel much better about the future of the line at this point than they did at this time last year.

    Top Five Free Agent Offensive Linemen

    1. Max Starks, OT, Pittsburgh, RFA

    2. Eric Steinbach, G, Cincinnati, UFA

    3. Leonard Davis, Arizona, UFA

    4. Andre Gurode, Dallas, UFA

    5. Mike Gandy, Buffalo, UFA


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
    laram0 is offline Superbowl MVP
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line

    I want Steinbach, I want Steinbach, I want Steinbach.

  3. #3
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line

    Top Five Free Agent Offensive Linemen

    1. Max Starks, OT, Pittsburgh, RFA

    2. Eric Steinbach, G, Cincinnati, UFA

    3. Leonard Davis, Arizona, UFA

    4. Andre Gurode, Dallas, UFA

    5. Mike Gandy, Buffalo, UFA
    That's a joke of a list. Starks as the top free agent O-lineman? Did Wagoner see any Pittsburgh games this year? How does Mike Gandy make this list over Kris Dielman?

  4. #4
    RamsFan16 Guest

    Re: Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line

    2. Eric Steinbach, G, Cincinnati, UFA

    4. Andre Gurode, Dallas, UFA
    The guys who I'd like to see us sign. They play Guard (Steinbech) and Center Gurode).

    Both area's that could use some help.

  5. #5
    bigredman Guest

    Re: Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    That's a joke of a list. Starks as the top free agent O-lineman? Did Wagoner see any Pittsburgh games this year? How does Mike Gandy make this list over Kris Dielman?
    Looks like a list I found at this website
    Last edited by bigredman; -02-16-2007 at 04:00 PM.

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