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Opportunity Abound At Guard

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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.


    • #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.


      • #4
        Re: Opportunity Abound At Guard

        Wasnt Scheuing released?


        • #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.


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            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.

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            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.

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            There was some concern from pro scouts about a past knee injury -- Setterstrom had cartilage work done in high school at Northfield (Minn.) High.
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            "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.

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            Incognito will battle incumbent Brett Romberg for the starting job at training camp.
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            Setterstrom is working at right guard during organized team activities at Rams Park, with free-agent pickup Jacob Bell at left guard.

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            Center Stage for Setterstrom ??
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            It's not as if Mark Setterstrom can predict the future. But his idea to work at
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            Early in the offseason, Setterstrom was in St. Louis for a week of rehab work,
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            Setterstrom was a rookie surprise in 2006, starting the final six games at left
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            All the center work might come in handy because in the opening week of the free
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            Setterstrom isn't sure if he'll be doing any work at guard once the team gets
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