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  • Opportunity Abound At Guard

    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 of the Rams’ line moving forward. He started the first three games of the 2007 season before a knee injury ended his season prematurely.

    That beat last season when Setterstrom again suffered a knee injury in the preseason and never even played in a game.

    The resilient and tough Setterstrom never let his unfortunate luck get him down and he reinvented himself as a more versatile player this offseason, developing his center skills and making himself more resourceful.

    Along the way, Setterstrom never let his bad injury luck creep into his mind.

    “That’s in the past,” Setterstrom said. “If you dwell on the past and coulda, wouldas and wishes, you are going to be looking backwards. I have been looking forward and I was just worried about getting myself strong enough and healthy enough to play this year and I have been able to stay healthy so I feel good.”

    The Rams drafted Greco in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft with hopes that he could swing between tackle and guard after he spent most of his college career at Toledo playing tackle.

    Since, Greco has been plying his trade at both spots while learning the guard position. He played in nine games as a rookie, starting and playing well in the season finale against Atlanta at right guard.

    This year, Greco has filled in a few times, including stints at right guard, left guard and left tackle. But this week will be his first start of the year and second of his career.

    Given his time in St. Louis, Greco says he is comfortable playing inside.

    “I don’t even think about it anymore,” Greco said. “It’s been almost two years I have been concentrating on guard so I don’t even think about it anymore. I just wait for opportunities and just try to step in there and show that I am ready for it.”

    Allen, meanwhile, is the rookie of the bunch with his experience limited to practice and the preseason. He signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent and though the team has high hopes for his future, he’s been inactive for the first 13 games of the season.

    In the meantime, Allen has bided his time and done all he can to learn from the veterans around him.

    Allen doesn’t figure to start right away but after being inactive, he’ll now truly be a play away from getting his first opportunity.

    “It’s great,” Allen said. “All year I have been wanting to suit. Wearing sweats on the sideline is not that fun. You don’t actually get to feel like part of the team. Now that I will actually get to put my jersey on for the first time since preseason, it’s just great.”

    Although continuity is one of the keys to success for an offensive line, it’s not like Greco and Setterstrom are strangers to the likes of Brown, Adam Goldberg and Alex Barron.

    That’s why they remain confident that they can step in and get the job done this week and beyond.

    “We play together every day,” Greco said. “This is the nature of the business. You have got to be ready to roll in there no matter who is in there so we play together every day and I would like to think everyone is comfortable next to each other.”

  • #2
    Re: Opportunity Abound At Guard

    What happened to Scheuning? I thought he was a true guard coming out of college and had a pretty impressive resume` to boot.
    Here's to hoping our patchwork line holds up for the last few weeks though.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Opportunity Abound At Guard

      I have always been a fan of setterstrom, he just hasn't been able to stay healthy when he is finally named the starter. Good luck to him, perhaps he can make a case and convince De Spags that we don't need a replacement for Cogs.

      Also I have really high hopes for Greco, plenty of great lineman have come from round three and beyond, heres hoping we got something right out of our historically bad drafts.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Opportunity Abound At Guard

        Wasnt Scheuing released?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Opportunity Abound At Guard

          Originally posted by Warner4prez View Post
          What happened to Scheuning? I thought he was a true guard coming out of college and had a pretty impressive resume` to boot.
          i was delighted when we drafted big Roy,a beastly guard with an amazing will to play even when far from 100% healthy..dont recall why or who we cut him for..but he was cut and picked up by the Raiders at the start of the season.

          Comment

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          • MauiRam
            St. Louis Rams Mark Setterstrom willing to do whatever's necessary to earn spot
            by MauiRam
            By Bill Coats
            ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
            05/21/2009

            Felled twice by major knee injuries, Rams offensive lineman Mark Setterstrom has established modest goals for the 2009 season.

            "I just want to contribute in whatever fashion that is. I just want to help this team to be a better team. I just want to be a part of the team," he said.

            Setterstrom's No. 1 priority is staying healthy. Nearly two years have passed since his improbable rise into a starting role was scuttled by a double-dose of bad luck.

            Setterstrom, a 6-foot-4, 314-pounder from the University of Minnesota, was a seventh-round draft pick in 2006. He was among the inactives for the first nine games of his rookie season, finally suiting up for the 10th in a reserve role.

            As injuries ripped through the line, Setterstrom found himself starting at left guard the following week. He remained there for the rest of the year, then re-earned the job heading into the '07 season.

            In Week 3, while blocking on a field-goal attempt, Setterstrom tore a ligament and suffered cartilage damage in his left knee. He had surgery and was placed on injured reserve.

            After months of tedious and painful rehab, Setterstrom arrived at training camp last summer as the first-team right guard. But in the second preseason game, vs. San Diego, he fractured his right kneecap. Again, his season was over.

            And again, he faced a scalpel and more rehab. Still, Setterstrom insisted that he never was tempted to ask, "Why me?"

            "I just move on, and that's the truth. You can't be looking back; you've got to look forward," he said during a break in organized team activities this week at Rams Park. "If I'm sitting here feeling sorry myself, then I probably wouldn't be on this roster. I'm just glad to have another opportunity."

            As Setterstrom toiled to get his knee back into shape, the structure of the Rams was changing shape. In addition to major shifts in front-office personnel, new head coach Steve Spagnuolo arrived with a mostly new staff.

            In early April, with the first of three minicamps approaching, Setterstrom went to Spagnuolo.

            "He told me he was uncertain about his knee," Spagnuolo said. "What he was concerned about was, a new staff, I'm not a hundred percent, I'm not going to impress."

            But after Setterstrom turned in a full workload, Spagnuolo was plenty impressed. "He fought through it," Spagnuolo said. "Now, it's all smoothing out a bit."

            The Rams are set at guard, with Jacob Bell and Richie Incognito. Setterstrom, 25, is trying to nail down a spot as a multipurpose backup. He's spent the offseason at center, a position he has never played.

            "I think it's a good opportunity to grow in my skill set," he...
            -05-21-2009, 09:31 AM
          • RamWraith
            Rams injuries have created offensive line moves
            by RamWraith
            Leckey moves into starting role as Rams center
            BY STEVE KORTE
            News-Democrat

            ST. LOUIS --
            The St. Louis Rams' depth on the offensive line already is being tested.

            Nick Leckey has moved into a starting role with center Brett Romberg hampered by a broken hand, and rookies John Greco and Roy Schuening now are key backups with Mark Setterstrom and Brandon Gorin out for the season with injuries.

            Rams coach Scott Linehan said Leckey is making a run at the starting job after not even being mentioned as a candidate for that role at the start of training camp.

            Romberg and Richie Incognito were supposed to battle to be the starting center, but Incognito has moved back to right guard where he played last season.

            "Sometimes there's an opportunity that arises because of an injury, but at this point, Nick Leckey has really made a statement for the center position," Linehan said. "There's nothing that Brett did do or didn't do, he just hasn't been able to be as effective because of his hand. Nick has gone in there and played really well."

            As for Greco and Schuening, who were added during the 2008 NFL Draft to lend depth to an offensive line that was riddled with injuries last season, the future is now.

            "There is a reason why they are here, we just are asking them (to be contributors) a little sooner," Linehan said. "It just gives them an opportunity now to get more snaps than what they would have gotten to this point. So in a lot of ways that is good for those two."

            Leckey said he feels better prepared mentally to be a starter now than he did last season when he thrust into starting lineup at right guard for two games due to injuries.

            "I feel that right now my focus is better," Leckey said. "In the past, I dwelled on things too much. I let it linger instead of just looking forward. In the past, maybe I was looking behind me a little bit, which never helps you out."

            Leckey and the rest of the Rams' starting offensive line paved the way for Antonio Pittman and Brian Leonard to rush for 105 yards in the first half of a 7-6 win over the San Diego Chargers last Saturday.

            "That always make the o-line happy," Leckey said. "Whenever you rush for over 100 yards on a really good defense, and I know they were missing a bunch of their guy, but anytime you can rush for that many yards, it's always a good thing."

            Leckey said it was sad to see Setterstrom being carted off the field with a fractured knee cap last Saturday in a scene eerily similar to last season when he was carted off with a torn ACL in his knee in Week 3 vs. Tampa Bay.

            "For him to just get off rehabbing and finally have the confidence to stand on his knee, it's heart-breaking to me," Leckey said. "He's such...
            -08-19-2008, 02:11 PM
          • RamWraith
            Seventh-round pick finds niche on offensive line
            by RamWraith
            By Jim Thomas
            ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
            08/24/2006

            Left guard Mark Setterstrom started 50 games over four seasons at the University of Minnesota. He was an all-Big Ten Conference first-teamer as a junior and senior, earning his share of all-American mentions.

            But on draft weekend, 241 players were selected ahead of him before the Rams called his name in the seventh round. When asked if that's a point of motivation, Setterstrom paused, and replied diplomatically: "To some degree. I felt like I had a good career at Minnesota. I had hoped to go maybe a little higher in the draft."

            So what happened?

            There was some concern from pro scouts about a past knee injury -- Setterstrom had cartilage work done in high school at Northfield (Minn.) High.
            "It was a minor issue in high school that happened," Setterstrom said. "I went to the (NFL scouting) combine, and apparently some things didn't look good. That was kind of frustrating ... to hear people say that."

            Maybe the fact that the Golden Gophers were a run-oriented team and the NFL is a passing league worked against him on draft day as well.

            "On average, we probably passed 10 to 12 times a game," Setterstrom said. "We just ran the ball. I have a ways to go on my (pass-blocking) technique."

            But Rams doctors weren't as concerned about medical problems as some other teams were. And Rams coaches got rave reviews on Setterstrom from the Gophers' staff in the pre-draft evaluation process.

            "They felt consistently over the last three years that this kid was one of their best players," Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau said. "So we just kept turning the film on. And I kept on looking at him, and I'd see something I'd really like. So when he's sitting there in the seventh round, you say, 'why not?'"

            So far, Setterstrom is making that seventh-round expenditure look like a wise investment. It looks like Setterstrom will make the roster as a backup guard. Over the course of training camp he even got some practice repetitions with the first unit.

            "He's mature beyond his years," coach Scott Linehan said earlier in camp. "A guy that starts four years in the Big 10, plays at a high level in a system that, you know, they do a lot of things we do at Minnesota. That makes you excited about him.

            "He plays with great leverage. He's smart. He plays with a great base. You don't see him lunging, and getting over-extended. He knows what he does well, and he doesn't 'maximize' his limitations, so to speak. And that's very rare in a rookie."

            Linehan said he spent a day with Golden Gophers coach Glen Mason over the summer in Minnesota.

            "Glen said he's the best lineman he's had since he's been there," Linehan said....
            -08-24-2006, 05:54 AM
          • MauiRam
            Rams reshuffle line again ..
            by MauiRam
            reshuffling of the Rams’ offensive line continues.

            Mark Setterstrom has been moved back to guard after an audition at center, and Richie Incognito, the first-team right guard last season, returns to center, where he started 12 games in 2006.

            Incognito will battle incumbent Brett Romberg for the starting job at training camp.
            Setterstrom was a first-teamer at left guard for the last six games in ’06, his rookie year, and the first three games in ’07 before he suffered a season-ending knee injury.

            Setterstrom is working at right guard during organized team activities at Rams Park, with free-agent pickup Jacob Bell at left guard.

            Of course, nothing is set in stone in early June.

            "It’s a long time until we play a game," Setterstrom said. "Things work their way out."

            STLtoday - Rams reshuffle line again
            -06-05-2008, 12:53 PM
          • MauiRam
            Center Stage for Setterstrom ??
            by MauiRam
            center stage for Setterstrom?
            By Jim Thomas
            ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
            Wednesday, Mar. 26 2008

            It's not as if Mark Setterstrom can predict the future. But his idea to work at
            the center position a couple of months ago might prove to be a good move.

            Early in the offseason, Setterstrom was in St. Louis for a week of rehab work,
            checking in with Rams trainers on the progress of his knee surgery in October.
            When he returned home to Minnesota, Setterstrom took a football with him to
            work at the center position.

            This was long before Jacob Bell was on the Rams' horizon.

            "I just thought it'd be a good thing to have in the back of my pocket — to work
            on snapping," Setterstrom said, "in case I needed to slide over the center any
            time this year."

            Setterstrom was a rookie surprise in 2006, starting the final six games at left
            guard. He opened the '07 campaign as the Rams' starting left guard but suffered
            a season-ending knee injury in Game 3.

            Besides continuing his rehab work from that surgery, Setterstrom worked on
            snapping — particularly shotgun-formation snapping — with some of his former
            college teammates at the University of Minnesota. Shotgun snapping wasn't just
            an occasional way for Setterstrom to pass the winter months.

            "I did that three days a week all winter," Setterstrom said. "So I'm feeling
            pretty good at that."

            Obviously, there's more to playing center than shotgun snapping.

            "It's going to take some time to learn the techniques and the things that go
            along with playing center," Setterstrom said. "But as far as learning the
            offense and making the (line) calls, I think I should feel pretty comfortable
            with that."

            All the center work might come in handy because in the opening week of the free
            agency period, the Rams signed Bell to a $36 million contract to play left
            guard. Had Setterstrom not suffered the knee injury, he might still be the
            Rams' starting left guard. But it happened, there's a new starter, and
            Setterstrom chalks it up as part of the game.

            "I don't really take it as a slap in the face,'' he said. "I think they wanted
            to bring in some extra offensive line help, and it just happened to be at my
            position. Just because they brought another guy in doesn't mean they don't want
            me around. That's the way I'm taking it."

            Setterstrom isn't sure if he'll be doing any work at guard once the team gets
            to the organized team activities and minicamps in May and June.

            "I talked to the coaches, and they said they want to give me a shot to develop
            at center," he said....
            -03-26-2008, 02:29 AM
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