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  • Barron Learning on the Job

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    As Orlando Pace addressed the media after being named to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl on Wednesday, he joked about bringing rookie right tackle and fellow bookend Alex Barron with him to Hawaii to get a taste of the proceedings.

    Every one got a little chuckle out of the joke, with the possible exception of Barron. By most accounts, though, maybe Barron should lobby for a trip just to get used to the atmosphere.

    “I think he’s going to be spectacular,” interim coach Joe Vitt said. “I really do. He’s athletic. I think when he has a whole offseason in the weight room with power lifts and getting stronger, I think he’s going to be a premier tackle. I really do.”

    In other words, it might not be long before Barron joins Pace on the annual journey to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. Barron probably isn’t ready for all of that, but he might not be far off.

    Considering the amount of things Barron has dealt with as a rookie, he might be well on his way to a long and prolific NFL career. Nary a rookie in the league has an easy first season. There are always speed bumps along the way such as adjusting to the speed of the NFL, learning proper techniques and handling the sudden fame and money that go with being in the league.

    Barron learned all he needed to know about the business side early on. After the Rams chose him with the 19th pick of the first round, Barron was held out of training camp for most of the first month.

    Even before Barron had signed his name to a contract he had struggled mightily in the team’s mini camp. He was trying to learn the right side and seemed overwhelmed by the playbook.

    After arriving at camp, Barron worked to get better, but was at a distinct disadvantage because he wasn’t used to working exclusive on the right side and his absence had rankled the coaching staff. Barron fell on the depth chart behind the likes of Rex Tucker, among others.

    Tucker won the job coming out of camp and it seemed that Barron would be on the bench learning for most of the year with coach Mike Martz going so far as to say that would be a good thing.

    Even when Tucker suffered a calf injury against the *****, Barron remained on the left side and inactive for games.

    Blaine Saipaia handled the right tackle job against Arizona and Tennessee, but because of the injuries on the line, Barron finally started to get worked in on the right side in the week leading up to the game against the Titans in week three.

    Barron was active for the first time that week and with Saipaia struggling, he got his chance late in the third quarter. Barron wasted no time asserting himself, rag dolling defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch on his second play and coming up with a huge fumble recovery soon after.

    With that test passed, Barron faced a huge challenge for his first start in New York’s Michael Strahan.

    “That’s why he is here,” Martz said at the time. “That’s why he is a first-round pick. That’s why he’s starting. We’re not trying to develop him; this isn’t the Boys Club. He has to go play.”

    Barron more than held his own against Strahan. Strahan got one sack, but that came on a stunt and he didn’t beat Barron to get it.

    While Barron’s performance in his first few games was excellent, he still has some work left to do. For now, he is getting by mainly on his supreme athleticism and wingspan. He can use those traits to keep speed rushes to the outside away from his quarterback, but he has plenty of learning to do to become the player he could.

    “Natural ability I think the sky is the limit,” guard Adam Timmerman said. “He’s got a ton of athletic ability. As soon as he can learn the technique a little better as far as pass sets and doing some of those things I think he is going to be fine. He’s young and he’s immature a little bit.”

    Since taking over the job, Barron has made the revolving door at right tackle come to a stop. He has earned the starting job and held on to it. He even learned an important lesson about what it takes to be great in the NFL.

    “It’s just a whole bunch of hard work,” Barron said. “It’s just the hard work, period. That’s the bottom line.”

    Barron has been able to get by for most of this year on that aforementioned natural talent, but as his mental game grows so too does his confidence.

    The challenges every week have only grown. Against Houston, Barron suffered a thumb injury that caused him to have surgery to repair torn ligaments in his hand. He missed the games against Washington and Minnesota before returning last week against Philadelphia.

    Battling Jevon Kearse with a huge cast on your hand isn’t a task many would welcome, but Barron held up well.

    “To do what he did, coming back from surgery, playing with a cast, going against Jevon Kearse, I was really proud of him,” Vitt said. “He battled. He has to get a little bit more confidence. I know his hand was hurting him. He was catching more than punching. I think that will come, but I was proud of him.”

    Barron’s development certainly hasn’t been stymied by the injuries or any other extraneous factors. The soft-spoken tackle has been more than willing to learn and who better to teach him than Pro Bowler Pace.

    “He’s taught me some different things, a few things I didn’t know,” Barron said. “He helped me touch up some things that I was already doing and different things to focus on.”

    And Pace has been a willing mentor.

    “He has all the skills,” Pace said. “I have an open door policy if he wants to come and ask me some questions or if I see something I can probably help him do then I’ll do that.

    “I think he is getting better week in and week out. Every game he plays, I think he is progressing. He has some torn ligaments in his hand, but he went out and fought hard and played hard. I think he is going to be better. His future is really bright.”

    Pace has spent the better part of the past few years searching for a bookend on the right side, he certainly has that now, but it might not be long before he gets a travel partner, too.

  • #2
    Re: Barron Learning on the Job

    By next year we will have the best pair of tackles in the nfl. now, if the interior of the line cooperates, we may just be on our way to return to glory, assuming of course that someone other than big grease, little and pisa can tackle.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Barron Learning on the Job

      Barron has really outplayed my expectations this season.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Barron Learning on the Job

        Barron has played beyond where I thought he might be at this point in his first season. Very nice pickup in the first round for the Rams, and a very bright future at both tackle positions. It will be so nice next season not to have to," chip block" an end on that right side and let the TE go do his thing upfield.

        Great pick, Shaw, or was it Zygmunt, no Armey, oh ya MARTZ !!!!!!!

        Maineram -

        Comment

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        • RamWraith
          Barron Poised for a Breakout
          by RamWraith
          Thursday, August 3, 2006

          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          A year ago around this time, Alex Barron was at home in Orangeburg, S.C., awaiting a contract offer from the Rams that would meet he and his agent’s desires.

          This year, though, things are much different for Barron. After a 16-day holdout that was trumped among first-rounders only by Chicago running back Cedric Benson, Barron reported to St. Louis on Aug. 11, 2005.

          For all intents and purposes, Barron is actually participating in his first professional training camp.

          “To tell you the truth, when I got here last year they had already played the Bears and camp was about over with,” Barron said. “This is actually like my first camp. It’s all right. It’s something everybody has to go through every year to get ready for the season.”

          The time Barron missed last season probably cost him a shot at being the starter at right tackle for the entirety of his rookie season. Soon after the Rams used the 19th pick in the draft on Barron, he was declared the starter by coach Mike Martz.

          But Barron fell behind during the holdout as he initially had trouble switching to the right side after playing a lot of left tackle at Florida State. He also was way behind on the playbook because of all the missed installation periods. So, Barron was declared inactive for the first two games of the regular season.

          “It was kind of difficult,” Barron said. “I was learning the plays, learning the system and coming from college (adjusting) to the speed of the game and things like that.”

          Finally, on Sept. 25 against Tennessee, Barron got his first action, replacing a struggling Blaine Saipaia at right tackle. Barron manhandled Titans’ defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch repeatedly and recovered a key fumble in the fourth quarter. He had staked his claim to a starting job he would not relinquish the rest of the season were it not for a hand injury.

          Barron went on to start 11 games, playing in 12 and acquitted himself well against the likes of the Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. Still, Barron was not content with his debut season.

          “You can’t really ever be satisfied,” Barron said. “As a team, we had some different things goal wise and individual. You can never be satisfied you just look to the next year to get better.”

          For Barron, one aspect of getting better meant working diligently in the offseason to improve his physical stature. He played last season in the 315-320 pound range, but estimates that he somewhere below 310 pounds right now. In the opening days of training camp, Barron has looked slimmer yet stronger.

          To get to the level that he wants, though, the real task for Barron will be improving on the mental aspects of the game. Silly errors plagued Barron as a rookie and it’s something he and coach Scott Linehan hope to improve...
          -08-03-2006, 06:54 PM
        • RamWraith
          Barron emerges as a dependable rookie
          by RamWraith
          By Bill Coats
          ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
          12/23/2005


          Rams offensive line coach John Matsko ordered center Andy McCollum to clam up the other day during a unit meeting. It wasn't that Matsko was angry because McCollum was whispering to guard Adam Timmerman.

          The problem was that rookie tackle Alex Barron, whose soft voice belies his large size, was being drowned out - even though McCollum was barely audible.

          "I couldn't hear what Alex was saying," Matsko explained.

          "I'm not a rowdy guy, and I don't have much to say," Barron told reporters when he played at Florida State. That hasn't changed since Barron arrived in St. Louis last spring.

          "He's extremely quiet," Matsko said. "But he's really into football. He's very open and very responsive, very acceptable to coaching. He really wants to do it the way you teach it."

          After a rocky start, Barron has emerged as exactly what the Rams hoped he would be when they took him in the first round of the draft: a dependable starter at right tackle.

          "He continues to get better every game," interim head coach Joe Vitt said.

          Barron grew up in Orangeburg, S.C., where he worked summers as a bagger and stock boy at a local grocery (sound familiar?).

          He chose Florida State over Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, and, after nearly leaving early, became a consensus All-American - and completed his degree in social science - his senior year.

          Longtime Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden has called Barron one of the top offensive linemen he's had, and several scouting services rated Barron, 23, as the top offensive lineman in the draft. But tackle Jammal Brown of Oklahoma was taken six spots earlier; some teams reportedly were scared by Barron's gentle demeanor.

          Coach Mike Martz called the Rams' selection of Barron at No. 19 overall "a major step in solidifying our offensive line."

          When Barron visited Rams Park a few days after the draft, Martz declared him the starting right tackle.

          By early August, however, Barron had taken up residence in Martz's doghouse. He missed the first 19 days of training camp in a contract dispute. When Barron finally showed up after signing a five-year, $9.2 million deal, a peeved Martz said Barron was so far behind that he doubted whether he could help the team this season.

          Barron wasn't deterred, though.

          "I can't say I was too worried about it," he said. "I kind of took things as they came."

          And he took Martz's criticism as a challenge.

          "He battled," Matsko said. "I'm very impressed with both his physical toughness and mental toughness. Because he's had some stuff go wrong, and he bounces back with determination."

          Inactive for...
          -12-24-2005, 04:37 AM
        • RamDez
          Barron Begins Crash Course
          by RamDez
          Monday, August 15, 2005

          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          While the lights were out at Rams Park this weekend because of a power failure, a trio of offensive line instructors was spending its time trying to help the lights come on in the head of rookie tackle Alex Barron.
          As most Rams enjoyed their Saturday afternoon off after their win against Chicago on Friday night, the offensive line’s newest arrival was getting acquainted with his new coaching staff.
          No other players were present at Rams Park as offensive line coaches John Matsko and John Benton and Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater gave Barron a crash course in everything from technique to the offense to foot work.
          For the better part of the day, Matsko, Benton and Slater took turns drilling Barron on different things. Matsko did an hour on pass protections, Benton handled run blocking and Slater drilled technique. Then, the trio went through it again. It was a quick, tireless introduction to training camp.
          “They did a great job working with me this weekend,” Barron said. “The other guys were off. I just got a little extra work in during the days. It helped out a great bit. It caught me up to some of the things that had been going on in camp, some new plays, different techniques and stuff.”
          Barron’s work was cut short by a loss of electricity that occurred around 4 p.m. Saturday. But by that time, Barron had already dived in head first. It brought the teaching session to an abrupt halt, but it was Barron’s first crack at working out in St. Louis after a two-week holdout.
          Barron continued the workouts through the weekend, but he still has a ways to go. Barron played left and right tackle at Florida State, but it was more of a strongside versus weakside type of change than making the permanent move to the right side. That seemed to give him an advantage coming in, but Matsko said it is natural for Barron to be uncomfortable when he is so used to being the left tackle.
          “I like him if he has got a chip on his shoulder,” Matsko said. “Mentally, he was very sharp when he was here. The challenge that he had came when he was on the right side was being dominant with the left hand when he was in pass protection.”
          That all goes back to technique and that was an area Barron struggled with at the team’s mini-camp in June. Barron looked somewhat lost on the right side and got beaten repeatedly in pass rush drills. After each practice, Barron looked worn down and tired.
          “I think it might have had something to do with the combination of being in the situations he was in and working with the ones and the multitude of plays he was trying learn and then trying to master the technique,” Slater said. “I think it was the combination of all of that more than anything else.”
          But the rookie was much improved in his first practice Monday morning. Working at his more natural left tackle spot, Barron held his own in the morning workout...
          -08-15-2005, 03:26 PM
        • RamWraith
          Barron Braces for Big Test
          by RamWraith
          Thursday, September 29, 2005

          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          If Alex Barron thought he was thrown into the fire against the Titans last week, then this week he will be tossed into a blazing inferno.

          Assuming everything goes as expected and Barron starts at right tackle against the Giants this weekend; he will be facing one of the best defensive ends in the league in New York’s Michael Strahan.
          Barron is well aware of the giant task facing him this week and there are a few things that stand out about Strahan to him.

          “How good he is at technique and things like that and just the general fact of knowing that he is a veteran in the league and knows all the tricks of the trade,” Barron said. “You just have to focus in on what you need to do and your effort for helping your team. All that other stuff, you really can’t do anything about.”

          What Barron can do is take a good, long look at what he will be up against this weekend. Strahan is 12th all-time in sacks with 120.5 and is first among active players in sacks. He also holds the season sack record with 22.5 in 2001.

          Coach Mike Martz said because of Strahan’s ability and reputation, there has to be some accountability for him at all times regardless of if the player blocking him is a rookie or not.

          “I think always you have to have plan B if you need to help him, and we’re going to do that,” Martz said. “Obviously, we’re going to try and help him a little bit, but he has to play. That’s why he is here. That’s why he is a first-round pick. That’s why he’s starting. We’re not trying to develop him; this isn’t the Boys Club. He has to go play.”

          Strahan is a slightly different player this season than he has been in years past. He shed about 20 pounds in the offseason in an attempt to get quicker and stay healthy. Strahan is coming off a pectoral injury that ended his season early last year.

          So far, the loss of weight has made Strahan quicker and has had no ill effects according to coach Tom Coughlin.

          “He is a little bit lighter,” Coughlin said. “He wanted to play that way, and I certainly have seen him play and perform very well regardless of what weight he is. He is every bit as good of a football player as he has been, and as a matter of fact there are a lot of things happening that are away from Michael. The loss of weight is probably a good thing.”

          Strahan has two and a half sacks this season and is no doubt a tough task for a rookie such as Barron.

          Fortunately for Barron, though, this won’t be his first appearance in a regular season game. Although he played a little over a quarter against the Titans, he got enough game action to get some much-needed experience before having to deal with Strahan.

          Barron was solid in his debut against Tennessee, even picking up and slamming defensive end Kyle...
          -09-30-2005, 04:15 AM
        • RamWraith
          Barron may have tamed a Titan, but Strahan is a Giant challenge
          by RamWraith
          By Jim Thomas
          ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
          Thursday, Sep. 29 2005

          It's not as if Alex Barron was eased gently into his NFL career last Sunday.
          With the game on the line and Tennessee defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch looking
          like the second coming of Deacon Jones, Barron was called off the bench to make
          his NFL debut late in the third quarter.

          Barron performed well. Very well. Vanden Bosch didn't touch Rams quarterback
          Marc Bulger the rest of the day - at least not when Barron was blocking him.

          But if Barron thinks he was thrown into the fire last week, just wait till this
          Sunday at Giants Stadium. Barron, a rookie offensive tackle, will be making his
          first NFL start. His draw? None other than defensive end Michael Strahan of the
          New York Giants.

          "It'll be a real challenge," said John Matsko, who coaches Rams offensive
          linemen along with John Benton. "Michael's playing at a high level. He's one of
          the best players ever to play in the National Football League."

          Matsko knows better than most. Before joining to the Rams in 1999, he spent two
          seasons coaching the Giants' offensive line. His charges went up against
          Strahan every day in practice.

          "Michael goes as hard as he can go every day, every snap," Matsko said.

          At age 33, Strahan is playing noticeably lighter than his listed playing weight
          of 275. But even the trimmed down Strahan looks as strong as ever on tape.

          "And he still seems to have the same quickness to me," Matsko said. "When I was
          with the Giants, we had a lot of good athletes on that football team, and he
          was the best-conditioned athlete on the team. He still looks like he's the
          best-conditioned athlete. ... He looks like he could go forever."

          Strahan is the NFL's active leader in career sacks with 120 1/2, a figure that
          ranks 12th for all time. Of that total, eight and a half have come against the
          Rams in eight games dating back to the 1993 season. The most memorable of those
          eight contests came Oct. 14, 2001, when Strahan rang up four sacks and forced a
          fumble against the Rams.

          Best of luck, Alex. The soft-spoken Barron, who turned 23 on Wednesday, says
          he's up for the challenge.

          "Yeah, I'm all right," Barron said. "I'm going to take it day by day, watch a
          good amount of film, try to get some notes down about some different things."

          So what has he noticed watching tape of Strahan?

          "Just how good he uses his technique and things like that," Barron said. "He's
          a veteran in the league, and he knows a lot of tricks of the trade."

          In college at Florida State, Barron...
          -09-30-2005, 04:16 AM
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