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Barron Poised for a Breakout

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  • Barron Poised for a Breakout

    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 this year.

    “He has shown he is still a young player with the mistakes he makes more pre-snap than post-snap,” Linehan said. “He still has those issues. I’m not harping on the negative, but he’s got to grow up. You have to make great strides from your rookie year to your second year.”

    Barron committed 16 penalties in his 12 appearances last season with nine false starts. In one particularly bothersome sequence against Jacksonville on Oct. 30, Barron committed an illegal use of the hands penalty, an illegal touching penalty and a false start on three consecutive plays. He finished that game with four total penalties, costing the Rams 25 yards of field position.

    Barron believes if he can cut out those kinds of mistakes, he can become the type of bookend to left tackle Orlando Pace that will be able to shut down opponents’ pass rush.

    “I believe if you get the mental aspect of the game down, everything else will come to you,” Barron said. “I think that’s kind of a big deal. Everybody when you get to the next level is bigger and faster and things like that. That’s everywhere. From what I have seen, the mental aspect of the game takes over so much from college.”

    Linehan said before camp he expects plenty of competition on the interior of the line. In other words, everything is set at the tackle positions with Pace and Barron.

    Barron said he doesn’t have a set weight for himself, believing he can play anywhere from 300 pounds to 330 pounds. But Linehan has a more ideal weight for his prized young tackle.

    “The tackle position requires a lot of anticipation and being smart and knowing how to set certain players so there are a lot of the tricks of the trade you have to learn,” Linehan said. “I think 310ish is fine with his range and ability to have the bulk to block the run game, but have the speed to go out in space like Orlando does and block the speed rush. People will flip ends on you and put guys on you. He’s making good progress.”

  • #2
    Re: Barron Poised for a Breakout

    What a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season last year. I remember there was talk that Barron would have problems because he was too "meek or "timid". He quickly dispelled that. Ask Strahan. Its hard to believe he performed as well as he did without any training camp. With Incognito doing well beside Pace, If Terrell can get it together and play more than a few downs without getting gassed, He would be a good fit beside Barron. Next years draft may bring us a Center.

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    • RamWraith
      Barron Learning on the Job
      by RamWraith
      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...
      -12-22-2005, 01:52 PM
    • 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
    • AvengerRam_old
      The Barron Situation is a Nonsense Magnet
      by AvengerRam_old
      Sometimes, I wonder why I even bother reading the opinons of fans and sportwriters.

      Take the Alex Barron situation. Yes, it would have been better if he had looked more prepared at mini-camp. Yes, it would have been better if he had signed before the start of training camp.

      But the conclusions that people are asserting based upon what has occurred are just plain nonsense.

      The latest one, which many fans and the great Blarney Miklasz have uttered, is "he won't be ready to contribute until 2006."

      Are you kidding me? What if Barron had missed mini-camp due to a death in the family, and then missed the first two weeks of training camp due to some minor injury. Are you telling me that people would now be saying that Barron has no chance of contributing in 2005? Please.

      If Barron can't contribute this year, it won't be because he missed two weeks of training camp - it will be because he's simply not capable (and nobody, not even Mike Martz and Alex Barron, know if he is capable at this point).

      The other great "nonsense" argument is - "it will be a big adjustment moving to RT." First of all, Barron played quite a bit of RT at FSU. Second of all, in most cases, lining up at RT means that you are usually not facing the best pass rusher on the other team. Finally, the RT is more likely to get help from a TE than the LT.

      Again, this stuff is all nonsense. Barron will get into some games in the preseason, and we'll all have a better idea of whether his talent (which is undeniable) will override his lack of experience and underdeveloped technique.

      My bet is that it will, and that he'll be starting by week 5 or 6. But I am just guessing - just like everyone else!
      -08-11-2005, 09:49 AM
    • RamWraith
      Offensive lineman Alex Barron is unusually quick
      by RamWraith
      By Bill Coats
      ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
      Sunday, Sep. 24 2006

      Florida State tailback Leon Washington thought he was alone as he sprinted
      toward the end zone two Octobers ago against Syracuse. Then he glanced to his
      side and saw teammate Alex Barron cruising stride for stride with him.

      "I'm telling you, you could line him up at running back," an incredulous
      Washington told reporters later.

      A 6-foot-7, 315-pound running back would be quite a site. Anyway, the Rams
      prefer to keep Barron at right tackle, where he has been a starter since the
      fourth game of his rookie season last year.

      For the second half of Sunday's game in San Francisco and during most of this
      past week in practice, Barron and right guard Adam Timmerman were the only
      familiar faces on a patched-together offensive line.

      At center, Richie Incognito has replaced Andy McCollum, who suffered a
      season-ending knee injury in the opener, with newcomer Adam Goldberg at left
      guard and first-year Ram Todd Steussie at left tackle in place of Orlando Pace,
      who suffered a concussion late in the second period vs. the *****.

      Barron called his elder-statesman status "kind of funny. This time last year, I
      was just chilling on the sidelines, just hanging, watching the team."

      The team's first-round draft pick, Barron missed 19 days of training camp
      before signing a five-year, $9.2 million deal. He was on the inactive list for
      the first two games while he hustled to gain at least a minimal understanding
      of the offense. Barron suited up for the third game, Sept. 25 vs. Tennessee,
      and with starter Blaine Saipaia struggling, was tossed into the fray late in
      the third quarter. On his first NFL snap, Barron flattened Titans defensive end
      Kyle Vanden Bosch.

      Barron started 11 of the final 13 games; he missed two with a thumb injury that
      required surgery. The results generally were positive, but hardly overwhelming.

      "He got into the system kind of under fire," said offensive line coach Paul
      Boudreau, a member of new coach Scott Linehan's staff. "He really didn't
      understand the whole picture."

      Two games into his second season, "I'm feeling a little bit more comfortable,"
      Barron reported.

      "He's doing the things you want to improve on from your first year to your
      second," Linehan said. "He's a very good pass protector, and his run-blocking
      is better. He's progressing very well."

      Barron's athleticism belies his position -- he's no "hog." At Florida State's
      pro day, Barron impressed the scouts with his performance, which included a
      4.82-second 40 and...
      -09-24-2006, 06:32 AM
    • eldfan
      It's time for Barron to blossom
      by eldfan
      When he'd leave the modest ranch house on Hillcrest Avenue in Orangeburg, S.C., young Alex Barron usually was headed for the outdoor basketball court nearby.

      It was — and still is — his favorite sport. He was good at it, too.

      Good enough to average a double-double at Wilkinson High, good enough to be invited to walk on at Florida State, and good enough, the 6-foot-7, 302-pound Barron insists, to have made a splash in college, and possibly the NBA. MORE RAMS

      "Truth be told, I think I would've been OK," he said. "I'm not here to say I would've been an all-star for 10 years or anything like that. But I know I'd have done pretty good in college."

      After a pause, Barron added softly, "But that's not the road I chose."

      In reality, the road chose him. It's led him to a new position — he's the Rams' first new full-time left tackle since 1997 — at the best possible time. Barron, 26, is in the final season of the original five-year, $9.2 million deal he signed in 2005, when the Rams took him in the first round of the draft.

      If his play this season suggests that he could rank among the league's top linemen, Barron, who became the Rams' first-team right tackle in his rookie season, stands to cash in — big time. Left tackles, charged with protecting a righthanded quarterback's blind side, are among the game's most valued, and best-compensated, performers.

      "He's talented, and he deserves it," his kid sister, Lasaundra, insisted. Barron doesn't feel entitled, though.

      "I try not to put any added pressure just because of what year it is for me," he said. "But I'm not going to lie and say I haven't thought about it. Why wouldn't I want to be in the conversation with the top tackles in the league? That'd be stupid."

      HOOP DREAMS

      They still talk about "the play" in Orangeburg, a quiet, working-class hamlet of about 12,500 near the center of the state. The basketball fieldhouse at Wilkinson High was packed as the Bruins took on archrival Irmo.

      A teammate missed a free throw, and Barron soared after the loose ball. Here's how Barron described what happened next to The State, the newspaper of Columbia, S.C.: "I got the rebound, kind of squirmed and went up and let it go. I kind of turned around, so it was almost like a 360, but not all in the air."

      The climax was a rim-rattling slam dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy. "The place exploded. They about took the roof off," said former coach Geb Runager, who was in the stands.

      Barron's father, also named Alex (they have different middle names), was Wilkinson's coach. "It was just unreal," he said. "I looked at my assistant coach and said, 'He could've been doing that all along.' ...

      "I just thought he pretty...
      -08-23-2009, 08:48 AM
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