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Rams Notebook: Offensive Line Goes Through Changes

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  • Rams Notebook: Offensive Line Goes Through Changes

    Rams Notebook: Offensive line goes through changes

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/30/2009

    Already missing two offensive line starters against Seattle, the Rams lost a third — center Jason Brown — to a sprained right knee just before halftime.

    "I'm not sure if it was friendly fire, or from our opponents," Brown said after Sunday's 27-17 loss. "But someone rolled into the back of my legs, and I got my knee tweaked. It was quite puffy at halftime."

    It was the same knee Brown injured in Game 2 against Washington. Brown was able to return in that contest. But after suffering the injury on the final play before the 2-minute warning against Seattle, Brown did not return.

    "I think there was still a little bit of scar tissue up in there," he said. "I definitely heard some crunching. ... It's tender, but I don't think anything is torn."

    The Rams already were missing right tackle Jason Smith and right guard Richie Incognito because of injuries, with Adam Goldberg starting for Smith and Mark Setterstrom filling in for Incognito.

    When Brown went down, Setterstrom moved over to center, with John Greco coming off the bench to play right guard. It all made for an interesting day for Setterstrom, who was making his first start since Game 3 of the 2007 season.

    "It's been a while since I started a game, so I was excited to do so," Setterstrom said. "But basically it wasn't any different in my preparations. Every week, I'm one or two plays away (from playing), so I've just got to be ready to go."

    Except for one series in place of Brown in the Washington game, Setterstrom had not played center in an NFL regular-season game until Sunday. At least on the practice field, Setterstrom has been the Rams' backup center all season, so he said he felt comfortable making line calls Sunday.

    Seattle threw a lot at Setterstrom and the rest of the Rams' blockers with an aggressive blitz package that intensified as the Seahawks built up a 27-10 lead.

    "We got into a situation where they could be aggressive," Setterstrom said. "You know, they got ahead of us. But in reality, they weren't really doing anything different than what we had seen on film. They just were doing it more numerous times. ... Our quarterback got hit way too many times. We've got to clean that up."

    SMITH HOSPITALIZED

    Rookie offensive tackle Jason Smith was hospitalized briefly Sunday after experiencing nausea and headaches during the game. According to team officials, Smith had a CAT scan, which was negative, and was sent home.

    Smith was on the Rams' pregame inactive list because of a concussion suffered last week against Arizona and watched the game in street clothes on the sideline. The CAT scan was taken as a precautionary measure because nausea and headaches are common post-concussion symptoms.

    BAJEMA AT FB

    With fullback Mike Karney sitting out Sunday's game because of a neck injury, tight end Billy Bajema was pressed into service at fullback.

    Bajema said he lined up occasionally in the backfield with the ***** before joining the Rams via free agency last offseason, but nothing like Sunday's extended time as Steven Jackson's lead blocker.

    "It was a different experience getting in there and lead blocking," Bajema said. "I enjoy that; I like the physical aspect of the game. You've got to be able to run in there and bring it to those linebackers on the (isolation) blocks, and just be ready for some big contact."

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  • r8rh8rmike
    Opportunity Abound At Guard
    by r8rh8rmike
    Opportunity Abound at Guard
    Wednesday, December 16, 2009


    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Make no mistake; John Greco and Mark Setterstrom aren’t rookies. In fact, that duo has done what any dutiful backup offensive lineman is asked to do and filled in admirably when the man ahead of him is injured.

    The only difference is that when it happens this week, it will be on a slightly more permanent basis than a play here, a series there or even a quarter or a half.

    Following the season ending hamstring injury to Jacob Bell and the release of Richie Incognito, the Rams found themselves with two openings for new starting guards.

    So the time is now for Greco and Setterstrom to use the next three games, starting this week against Houston, to state their case for why they should figure prominently into the Rams’ offensive line plans.

    “Both of them have played throughout the course of this season so we don’t look at it that way,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “Those guys take a lot of pride in stepping up and being the next guy to go in.

    “They are all interchangeable. (Line coaches) Steve (Loney) and Art (Valero) have really prepared that whole group and everybody in this league knows that the so called backups have to be versatile and John and Mark have done that. We are looking for them to step right in and not skip a beat.”

    Of course, in the first practice since those roster alterations (Bell was placed on injured reserve, ending his year); the Rams didn’t even have the luxury of using the line they plan to use Sunday against the Texans.

    Center Jason Brown missed the practice with an illness, leaving Setterstrom to handle the center duties and rookie Roger Allen III to take the repetitions at left guard with Greco on the right side.

    For Greco, Allen and Setterstrom, the next three weeks could provide a big opportunity to provide the Rams with a much better idea of what they bring to the table.

    Considering the nature of the position and the collisions that occur every week, most offensive linemen prepare as though they will start every week. That should make the transition easier.

    Setterstrom, for one, believes things won’t be much different.

    “I don’t think it’s changed,” Setterstrom said. “We are going to go out and try to win the line of scrimmage. Games are won on the offensive and defensive lines. I know we say it all the time but it’s true. Our coach emphasizes it doesn’t matter who is in there, those five guys have to work together. We have to go out and perform and open some holes.”

    Of the trio of guys who could figure into the mix in the next few weeks, none comes with more experience than Setterstrom.

    After starting the final six games of 2006, Setterstrom had looked to establish himself as a key component...
    -12-16-2009, 07:23 PM
  • eldfan
    Rams' O-line doing just fine
    by eldfan
    Rams' O-line doing just fine
    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/22/2009

    Not a lot has gone right for the Rams in 2009, no scoop there. The won-loss record doesn't lie — and the Rams are 1-8 entering Sunday's home game with the Arizona Cardinals.

    But the No. 1 goal of general manager Billy Devaney entering last offseason was to fix the offensive line. Nine games into the season, things are trending that way.

    "I know we've made strides," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "You can always get better everywhere. We're trying to get better at every position. But you do see a little bit of gelling there, guys working together. And that's even without Richie (Incognito) out there, and we know Richie's a key part of it. So there's more confidence there. I like the way it's developed. I think we've just got to keep working at that."

    Incognito will miss his third consecutive game Sunday because of a foot injury. But the line keeps perking along. Sacks are down and rushing yards are up. Against the Cardinals, running back Steven Jackson will be going for his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game, something he has never done since entering the NFL in 2004.

    "I think from the third game on, we've continued to improve," offensive line coach Steve Loney said. "I've been pleased with our progress."

    Granted, there's plenty of room for improvement. But with seven games to play, the basic numbers are good. The Rams are on pace to rush for 1,902 yards this season and currently are averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

    If those numbers hold up, it will be the team's best rushing performance since the 2001 NFC-championship squad rushed for 2,027 yards, at 4.9 yards per carry.

    Obviously, it's not all the line. Newcomer Mike Karney is the team's best blocking fullback since James "The Hammer" Hodgins played here from 1999-2002. The blocking of the tight ends has been solid. But run blocking begins and ends with up front.

    "It's definitely coming together," Jackson said. "Those guys are doing a great job of gelling. We actually have a (pass) protection meeting with them. When I say 'we,' I'm talking about the running backs. We spend extra time with those guys in walkthroughs. So we're all on the same page. Those guys are really communicating and keeping guys off Marc (Bulger). We're going in the right direction."

    Granted, the Rams aren't nearly the high-wire act in the passing game that they've been in the past. Even so, the team is on pace to allow 32 sacks this season — a modest two per game — which would be the lowest sack total since the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995.

    "They're not going unnoticed in this locker room, but I think maybe a little bit outside of here," Bulger said. "They're having a pretty good...
    -11-22-2009, 12:55 PM
  • RamWraith
    Gorin may be latest to bridge gap on line
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Wednesday, Oct. 03 2007

    Brandon Gorin isn't exactly setting down roots in St. Louis. But after signing
    with the Rams on Sept. 12, he did recently move out of the hotel where the Rams
    house new players.

    With a sense of accomplishment, Gorin announced: "I have my own cable TV, so I
    feel good."

    But Gorin hasn't been around Rams Park long enough to learn everyone's name.

    "Not everybody," said Gorin, a 6-foot-6, 308-pound offensive tackle. "But I'm
    pretty good with it. You've got guys like Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt — they've
    been around a long time. Marc Bulger. It's easy to know their names."

    Those offensive players, and more, could be getting to know Gorin in the coming
    weeks. After yet another injury on the offensive line, Gorin might be the
    team's next starting right tackle.

    Here are the possibilities the rest of the week at Rams Park:

    — If Richie Incognito's high ankle sprain is healthy enough for him to make his
    2007 regular-season debut, he will start at right guard Sunday against Arizona,
    with Milford Brown probably sliding over from right guard to right tackle.

    — If Incognito isn't ready to go, Brown probably stays at right guard, with
    Gorin starting at right tackle. Gorin replaced the injured Adam Goldberg early
    in the third quarter in Dallas and finished out the game at right tackle.

    "Obviously, you don't want to see anybody get hurt or anything like that,"
    Gorin said. "But this is the NFL. Things do happen. That's what we're prepared
    to do as a backup. Roles change, and I had to go in and try to perform."

    He had been with the team only 2˝ weeks before getting pressed into service
    against Dallas, but Gorin said he has a decent grasp of the playbook.

    "Unfortunately, I did make a couple of mistakes (against Dallas)," Gorin said.
    "Stuff that had nothing to do with the playbook. I don't plan on making those
    same type of mistakes again."

    A seven-year NFL veteran, Gorin played in college at Purdue when current Rams
    assistant coaches Greg Olson and Jim Chaney were on the Boilermakers' staff.
    Gorin entered the league in 2001 as a seventh-round draft pick by San Diego.

    Before joining the Rams, he played in 32 regular-season games, all with New
    England from 2003 through 2005. He started 18 regular-season games for the
    Patriots in '04 and '05, plus five postseason contests, including Super Bowl
    XXXIX against Philadelphia.

    Gorin's most recent stop was Arizona last season. Slowed by offseason surgery
    for a sports hernia, he was inactive for 14 games and did not play in two...
    -10-03-2007, 06:05 AM
  • RamWraith
    Setterstrom's first career start boosts battered line
    by RamWraith
    R.B. FALLSTROM
    Associated Press
    ST. LOUIS - Mark Setterstrom was in street clothes for the St. Louis Rams' first nine games, a typical fate for a rookie seventh-round pick.

    All of those weeks on the sideline were evidently well-spent, because he gave the team's battered offensive line a much-needed boost in Sunday's comeback victory over the *****. A patchwork unit kept Marc Bulger upright so he could lead the late-game drive that ended the Rams' five-game losing streak.

    "When you're on your third center and starting a rookie at left guard and our tackle is out of position, there's certainly things they're not going to do as well," Bulger said. "I think they're doing an exceptional job."

    Especially Setterstrom, who started every game in college during four years at Minnesota. Coach Scott Linehan said he graded out the highest on the entire line.

    "That's pretty impressive," Linehan said. "He was a big factor in being able to run the football. That's the reason we drafted him, it's the reason he's here."

    Setterstrom is the fourth player the Rams have tried at left guard. Richie Incognito started the opener at that spot before moving to center when Andy McCollum sustained a season-ending knee injury. Todd Steussie had eight starts before moving to left tackle when Orlando Pace was lost with a torn left triceps. Adam Goldberg started the fourth game of the season against the Lions when Pace was out with a concussion and Steussie had to fill in at tackle again.

    A fifth player, Claude Terrell, was lost in training camp with a wrist injury after starting 10 games at left guard last season.

    Patiently, Setterstrom added upper-body strength and worked on technique.

    "I was just waiting for my chance," he said. "This first year is kind of a development process and I tried to soak up all I could.

    "Obviously, I wanted to get out there but it wasn't frustrating."

    Setterstrom got his first game action two weeks ago in a loss at Carolina with two series at right guard, once to get his feet wet and also filling in when Adam Timmerman was nursing a rib injury. That cameo merited his first career start against the *****.

    Setterstrom is a much better run blocker at this stage of his career, and his work helped Steven Jackson rush for 121 yards. He's more raw protecting the passer, although his work helped limit the ***** to two sacks of Bulger, who had been sacked seven times the previous week.

    "He's really worked hard to get himself ready to play," Linehan said. "He played as good as any rookie I've been around in his first start, that's for sure."

    The only linemen still in their opening-game spots against the ***** were right tackle Alex Barron and Timmerman. Backup center Brett...
    -11-30-2006, 05:59 AM
  • eldfan
    Rams Report
    by eldfan
    USA TODAY

    During the 2010 season, Rams running back Steven Jackson spoke often about how important it was for the offensive line in front of him to have continuity.
    It is something the Rams' line has rarely had over the last decade. When it has, the result has been obvious. Even last season, though the Rams had a losing record, there was still improvement from the year before.

    The five players on the line started all but one game the entire season. From 1999-2001, when the Rams had a cumulative regular-season record of 37-11, the opening-day starters on the line missed a total of seven starts in three seasons.

    In 2002, there were several injuries on the line, and the record slipped to 7-9. It went back to 12-4 the next season when the all five linemen started every game.

    Of course, the biggest disaster for the Rams was 2007. Coming off an 8-8 season in 2006, there was optimism heading into the next year. Jackson had led the NFL in combined yards from scrimmage. Quarterback Marc Bulger passed for over 4,000 yards, while receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce each went over 1,000.

    But the attrition in the line in '07 started in training camp and extended into the first few weeks of the season. The casualties were Orlando Pace, Mark Setterstrom, Richie Incognito, Todd Steussie and Adam Goldberg, all by the fourth week of the season.

    By the end of the season, 13 different players had started games on the line at 18 different positions. Bulger was beat up like a rag doll, and the record was 3-13. He really never recovered.

    Now, the shuffling will likely be happening again on the line. Right tackle Jason Smith has already missed four games because of post-concussion symptoms and appears headed to injured reserve. Left tackle Rodger Saffold tore a pectoral muscle lifting weights last Friday and is done for the year.

    His replacement, Mark LeVoir, suffered a pectoral injury against Seattle that won't require surgery but will keep him on the sideline for at least two games and maybe four. Rookie Kevin Hughes replaced LeVoir in that game, and the Rams signed tackle Thomas Welch off the Buffalo practice squad this week, but neither is expected to start.

    The Rams are expected to play their best five guys, even if it means moving a guard to tackle. Both Jacob Bell and Harvey Dahl have played some tackle in their career, although it hasn't been for a while. Goldberg has also played left tackle in the past, and Jason Brown, who was benched two games ago at center, has played guard. Some NFL personnel people have thought Brown might be a better guard than center anyway.

    Also keep in mind that four of the Rams' final six games will be played against teams (Arizona, San Francisco twice and Pittsburgh) that play 3-4 defenses.

    Brown said he's not sure what the line will look like Sunday because he expects...
    -11-24-2011, 06:32 PM
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