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  • Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

    Rams must consider offensive line options
    5 hours ago • By Jim Thomas

    The Rams have taken major steps rebuilding the roster in two seasons of wheeling, dealing, and drafting under coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead.

    But just when it looked like much of the heavy lifting was done, the Rams could be facing a major renovation project on the offensive line.

    It all begins with Rodger Saffold, the tackle turned guard, whose original four-year contract is up. He’s scheduled for unrestricted free agency on March 11, the first day of the free agency-trading period, aka the start of the league year.

    Back in March, neither Saffold nor his agent were happy about Saffold being switched to right tackle after the signing of Jake Long in free agency. But Saffold uttered no discouraging words once he arrived at Rams Park for the spring practice period and over the course of the just-completed 2013 season.

    Before Saffold’s wild ride of a season ended with a possible concussion in Seattle, he had made only three starts at right tackle, started five games at right guard, and started the Seattle finale at left tackle in place of the injured Long.

    That’s nine starts. After suffering a knee injury in Week 2 in Atlanta, Saffold missed the next four contests. He returned from the injury Oct. 20 in Carolina and rotated with starter Joe Barksdale in that game as well as the next two contests.

    But it was those five starts at right guard, beginning with the Nov. 10 rout of Indianapolis, that got everyone’s attention. Before the start of this season, there were some at Rams Park who felt Saffold could be an elite performer at guard because of his combination of size, strength, footwork, and athleticism.

    Saffold’s play in those five starts did nothing to dispute that notion. There were times as a puller when he struck linebackers with such force they looked like they were going backwards on skates. He usually got from Point A to Point B quickly for a 330-pounder when pulling.

    Saffold was unavailable to the media after the Seattle game and on Monday at Rams Park because of the potential injury, which turned out not to be a concussion.

    He has a sunny-side-up personality. He’s optimistic by nature, enjoys playing for the Rams, and likes what the team is building here. But with all the switching around over the second half of the season, mainly as a result of injuries by others, he didn’t get a good sense of where he stood with the Rams. Was he a deluxe utilityman? Or a potential centerpiece of the line?

    With the Rams’ season over, the business season begins. Deciding Saffold’s worth will be tricky. Is he a tackle? Is he a guard? The Rams obviously think he’s a guard. Fisher said as much 10 days ago.

    “Rodger’s a tremendous athlete, and when healthy you could put him up there with some of the best in the league,” Fisher said at the time. “You would like to think his future’s probably at right guard. Or even left guard for that matter. But he plays the tackle position very well.”

    As impressive as he played in those five starts at guard, that’s a small sample size. How much is that worth for the Rams, or somebody else?

    “We think Rodger can play four different line positions at an exceptionally high level, as he proved this year,” said Alan Herman, Saffold’s agent. “He was absolutely dominating whenever he played guard. I think this puts him in an attractive situation as far as free agency.”

    The Rams haven’t opened negotiations with Saffold. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see Saffold test the market.

    “We look forward to exploring the market, and finding a spot where Rodger can contribute on a regular basis, play a specific position, and work to become an all-Pro player at that position,” Herman said.

    Saffold obviously is the top priority among the Rams’ pending unrestricted free agents, and the Rams are the only ones who can negotiate with him until March. It would be extremely surprising to see the Rams place a franchise or transition tag on Saffold as a one-year stop-gap measure. Last year, the franchise tag was $9.8 million and the transition tag $8.7 million for an offensive lineman. That’s a ton of money.

    In addition, Fisher mentioned two key words when he talked about Saffold’s athletic ability: when healthy. After playing and starting all 16 games as a rookie in 2010, Saffold missed 17 of 48 games from 2011 through 2013 because of injuries: seven games in ‘11, six games in ‘12, and four games this season. That must be factored into any contract discussions.

    Saffold’s not the only issue on the offensive line. Left guard Chris Williams, the only member of the unit to start all 16 games this season, is scheduled for unrestricted free agency. So is Shelley Smith, a handy backup who started two games at right guard this year, and six games at guard (four left, two right) in 2012.

    And what happens with veterans Scott Wells at center and Harvey Dahl at right guard? Wells, who turns 33 Jan. 7, missed the last four games of this season and nine last season because of injuries. He’s scheduled to count $6.5 million against the cap in 2014.

    Dahl, who turns 33 in June, missed four games this year and two a year ago with injuries. In a contract renegotiated in September, he is scheduled to count $4 million against the salary cap in 2014, with $2 million coming in the form of a roster bonus payable at the start of the league year.

    RAM-BLING

    The Rams signed five players Tuesday to their offseason roster: WR Emory Blake, DE Mason Brodine, TE Justice Cunningham, OT Sean Hooey, and CB Darren Woodard. All were members of the team’s 2013 practice squad.


  • #2
    Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

    I would love to see Saffold back in a Rams jersey. At the right price. 100% agree with Fisher to include those two key words whenever he's asked about him "when healthy". After starting all 16 games his rookie season Roger has been active for thirty one of forty eight games. Three of the games he was active this year he didn't start. He was truly dominant in the run game at guard and would really like to see him staring at LG next year. The run blocking from him and Long when they're healthy would be second to none. But just like Fisher says he's gotta be healthy. So does Jake for that matter.
    The restoration is complete!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

      I seem to remember Fisher using the "when healthy" phrase about Amendola when he was soon to be FA. If memory serves, that just about exactly when DA STOPPED being a Ram

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

        My dream would be to see Saffold a Ram at the RG spot for at least a few more years.

        Unfortunately, I'm just not sure if the Rams want to compete with what other teams may offer him. I think he'll be a pretty hot FA, he's played well when healthy. But, we know how oft-injured he is, and that's why I'd be skeptical to hand him a big contract.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

          The durability thing is big for the longterm but I think a tag would be wise for once. FA tackles are rare & any one decent would cost as much, like Long himself.Sounds like JL won't realistically be back until the second half of the season. Draft someone, by all means,but don't ask him to protect Sam's blindside and rebuilt knee out of the gate and see what you have in Barrett Jones and Barnes for another year .I think the greybeards and Williams are out and Darwin rules the rest. One year, get 'er done or get gone.

          Good for Saffold as well; his record isn't nearly as strong as Amendola's was. He needs a full good year at whatever spot to really get paid in STL or elsewhere,imo. Call the fat one year deal backpay for being a solid starter right out of the draft and a doozy insurance premium for Sam. With his rash of injuries and position swaps, it's easy to forget how good a find we thought Saffold was.

          ps: The Rams certainly have a lot of wheelin' & dealin' to do. I think Ol is like a Rubik's cube. You can't separate the parts or move them without an awareness of each and the big picture, as a game and a business, so hard to say how the RS issue will be resolved.

          I can say that the OL, while certainly needing stability and health, is light years ahead of two years ago. This year 8th fewest QB hits allowed. In 2011,dead last. Also gave up the most sacks in 2011. This last season, up 13 spots to 19th. The run game numbers jumped quite a bit as well, esp TDs, and I'm sure a full season of Stacy would have helped even more. We're getting there...
          Last edited by Azul e Oro; -01-07-2014, 11:03 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

            Does the phrase "Next Man Up" mean anything?

            I would like to see us keep all the OL players we have but it's the GM and Coaches job to fill any and all holes.

            Get er done!
            sigpic :ram::helmet:

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

              If I remember correctly, Saffold has only had significant injuries at either tackle spot. I think he had an injury at RG, but he only missed a play or few. If that is the case, and IF Saffold could see that, maybe he would take a 'FAT' RG deal. That I think is acceptable.


              gap

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              • #8
                Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

                Even if the Rams don't resign Saffold, someone will. But as pointed out at what price? Durability issues or lack there of them is a killer to O-lineman's career. Most teams are always strapped for cash one way or another and building a unit where its hard to pay for someone else to step in and give a team the same quality is near impossible in today's NFL.

                Saffold is better off where he is at even if he signs just a 2 year deal and come at it again in a short time. Its a huge risk either way, either for him or the team he plays on. IF he takes the 2 year deal and proves he isn't worth serious $$$, then he is stuck going from team to team with little certainty. Where as is there a team out there that will give him the $$$ and hope he works out--about the only way that happens is if he finds himself on a team in the middle of a rebuild with plenty of cash available. But once that team gets its pieces together Safforld is back to square one with an uncertain future since likely that team would like to restructure or just cut him

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

                  We do not have the luxury of unloading Saffold- not with the question marks surrounding the other guys on the line. He is certainly not the picture of durability, but he is a valuable commodity and a decent player. He also keeps his mouth shut and has performed admirably despite being bounced around.

                  It is frustrating to see our struggles with this unit, which have been ongoing since the Devaney/Spags regime. It is not for a lack of trying. Billy D. spent a lot of money trying to upgrade the line and it just didn't work. Jason Brown, Jacob Bell, Jason Smith, etc. and so forth. I DO think this year's performance was decent, but certainly upgrades are needed. You cannot win in this league if you don't keep your QB upright. And the late season injury to Jake Long is a huge concern.

                  There is no question in my mind the Rams will look to once again target a lineman or two high in the upcoming draft. It's not the way I was hoping we'd go, but it is critical for the offense that we do so.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

                    Personally, I'd give Roger a deal like this:
                    2 years
                    signing bonus: 4M
                    Base Salaries: 1.5M, 3.5M, First year only guaranteed.
                    Incentive: 500K each year for 70% of snaps, additional 1M for 90%

                    Cap hits of 4M(with additional 1M not likely to be earned) and 6M(again, 1M NLTBE).

                    Probably a bit more than I'd like to give him, but it at least protects us against further injury. He has the potential to hit 6M/year if he's a starter and healthy, which would put him in the same ball park as the tackles this past year. Don't like the 2M cap hit if we cut him after this year, but we'd save double that if he doesn't pan out, and we'll have the new TV money anyway.
                    I believe!:ram:

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

                      Sneed and Fisher let Amendola go last year. He was a fan favorite and a big part of Sams success in 2012.
                      Sneed and Fisher let Jackson go last year. He was the fan favorite and our only good player for many years.

                      Both received money that Rams fans thought was fair compensation and they felt that the Rams made big mistakes not matching. Given Saffolds injury history, lets not forget this guy missed one of every three games the last three years, and the NFL's habit of throwing band-aids at their tackle problems, Saffold is very likely to be over paid. I think it's more likely we retain Wells or Dahl than resign Saffold.
                      The restoration is complete!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

                        Originally posted by Mikey View Post
                        Sneed and Fisher let Amendola go last year. He was a fan favorite and a big part of Sams success in 2012.
                        Uuuuhhhh, Injury history?

                        Originally posted by Mikey View Post
                        Sneed and Fisher let Jackson go last year. He was the fan favorite and our only good player for many years.
                        In all due respect, the RAMS gave SJax the decision to do what he wanted, something he earned by his commitment to the RAMS. This will also pay dividends to the RAMS in the long run, as it shows that the RAMS are a team that treats players with respect. Quality players will take less to play for an organization like that.


                        gap

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Thomas: Rams must consider offensive line options

                          Originally posted by gap View Post
                          Uuuuhhhh, Injury history?



                          In all due respect, the RAMS gave SJax the decision to do what he wanted, something he earned by his commitment to the RAMS. This will also pay dividends to the RAMS in the long run, as it shows that the RAMS are a team that treats players with respect. Quality players will take less to play for an organization like that.


                          gap
                          I agree with both points. Not sure if you think I was complaining or not. I wasn't complaining about either player not being on the Rams this year. Didn't want the Rams to spend money on either player. Yes I know Danny has an injury history that's why I'm glad they didn't resign him.

                          I was simply pointing out that the Rams with the current leadership isn't going to over pay one of their own free agents. They only do that to other teams free agents.
                          The restoration is complete!

                          Comment

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                          • Nick
                            PD: Rams' Saffold will hit the open market
                            by Nick
                            Rams' Saffold will hit the open market
                            7 hours ago • By Jim Thomas

                            Although the dialogue continues between the Rams and the agents representing offensive lineman Rodger Saffold, it’s becoming evident that Saffold will not be re-signed by the start of free agency on Tuesday. In fact, one of those agents — Alan Herman — flatly stated that will be the case.

                            “Rodger definitely will be out in the free-agent market,” Herman told the Post-Dispatch.

                            Of course, a lot can happen between now and Tuesday. And the Rams could provide millions of reasons for Saffold and his representatives to change their minds before then.

                            “We had a good conversation with Rodger’s representatives at the (scouting) combine,” Rams executive vice president Kevin Demoff said. “They said all the right things. As Jeff (Fisher) and Les (Snead) said in their interviews, re-signing Rodger is a priority. There’s good dialogue going on.”

                            Fisher is the Rams’ coach and Snead their general manager.

                            The parties had talks again this week, and they will talk over the weekend.

                            “I’m always a believer that at this point it’s more likely than not that a player gets to free agency once they’ve come this far,” Demoff said. “They want to peek behind the curtain.

                            “My hope is that’s not case. But Rodger has good representatives. They do a good job. We have a good relationship with them. If there’s a deal that comes together, I know we’ll figure it out.

                            “If there’s not, then he’ll go to free agency and by no means is that the end of this conversation. Hopefully, once it’s there we’ll have an opportunity to figure it out and keep him as a Ram.”

                            As an example, Demoff cited the case of cornerback Ron Bartell, who briefly reached the free-agent market in 2009. He was strongly pursued by New Orleans but opted to re-sign with the Rams.

                            “I have high hopes (on Saffold returning), but he’s a talented player, and when you get to this point talented players are in demand,” Demoff said.

                            “We are having good conversations and hopefully those conversations will wind up with Rodger returning in a Rams uniform. But there’s still plenty of time to see how that story plays out.”

                            Complicating matters with Saffold is the fact that he’s drawing interest both at tackle and guard. Good tackles generally make more money than good guards.

                            It’s clear the Rams are more interested in Saffold at guard, although if he re-signs he could open the season at left tackle if Jake Long isn’t ready following knee surgery last January. Some in the industry believe Saffold’s next contract — wherever it is — will come in excess of $6 million per year.
                            -03-07-2014, 06:43 PM
                          • MauiRam
                            Saffold heading elsewhere ..
                            by MauiRam
                            By Jim Thomas

                            The market developed quickly for Rodger Saffold over the weekend during the NFL's 3-day negotiating period. To the point where Saffold's agent informed the Rams on Sunday that he was heading elsewhere.

                            "We spoke with Kevin Demoff numerous times over the weekend," the agent, Alan Herman, told the Post-Dispatch on Sunday evening. "But we're probably going to move in another direction."

                            There's no deal done at this moment. But there were widespread rumors Sunday that Oakland and Tampa Bay were hot and heavy on Saffold, and that Oakland may be his final destination. Herman would not comment on potential suitors.

                            It's clear, however, that Saffold is going to make more money in his new home than the Rams were offering which led to notifying the Rams of Saffold's decision.

                            "Kevin is a good person and a good businessman," Herman said. "He's wonderful to work with in these types of situations. The Rams made a valiant effort. But it's pretty hard to have multiple people making big dollars on the offensive line."

                            That was a reference, of course, to Jake Long. Long was signed to a four-year, $34 million free-agent contract last March to play left tackle. That signing moved Saffold to right tackle, a move he was not happy with. Then, after missing four games because of a knee injury, Saffold wasn't happy when he didn't regain his starting job there. To his credit, he never spoke out against the Rams, but it was clear what his feelings were.

                            Saffold blossomed at right guard over the final half of the season, and now is on the verge of signing a lucrative free-agent contract elsewhere. "Lucrative" will be in excess of $7 million a year. How much above $7 million is uncertain.

                            "Kevin was very gracious and said he was happy that Rodger had done well for himself," Herman said.

                            Losing Saffold may make the Rams more likely to draft an offensive lineman _ maybe a guard and a tackle. The Rams also have offensive guards Chris Williams and Shelley Smith about to hit the market as unrestricted free agents.

                            Both Williams and Smith are getting calls from other teams during the 3-day negotiating window before the official start of free agency Tuesday, according to league sources. The Rams have expressed at least modest interest in re-signing both players.

                            There are some guards about to hit the market, such as Zane Beadles of Denver, and Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz _ both of Kansas City. In addition, Tampa Bay reportedly is releasing two-time Pro Bowler Davin Joseph.
                            -03-09-2014, 11:01 PM
                          • r8rh8rmike
                            Rams, Saffold Talk New Contract
                            by r8rh8rmike
                            Rams, Saffold talk new contract

                            22 hours ago • By Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197

                            INDIANAPOLIS • The attempt to keep offensive lineman Rodger Saffold in a Rams uniform next season and beyond is about to reach a critical stage. With the start of the free agency period less than three weeks away, the Rams are scheduled to meet with Saffold’s representatives today in Indianapolis at the NFL scouting combine.

                            “Obviously we have a serious interest in getting Rodger back,” coach Jeff Fisher said Friday. “It’s important for us to get that done. He’s expressed serious interest in coming back at well.

                            “He’s going to be an outstanding guard in this league. Now, that doesn’t mean to say that he could not play either tackle because this year he did. He stepped in when Jake (Long) went down. And he stepped in here and there and played some really good football at the tackle spot.”

                            Saffold wasn’t happy when the Rams signed Long in free agency last March, meaning Saffold had to switch from left to right tackle. After missing four early-season games with a knee injury, Saffold rotated with Joe Barksdale at right tackle when he returned to action.

                            But Barksdale remained the starter and played about twice as much as Saffold in those games. Saffold wasn’t happy about losing his starting job. And when he was switched to guard, he was puzzled by what appeared to be a utility role.

                            However, Saffold played so well at guard that neither he nor his agents are opposed to Saffold playing that position on a regular basis. But will it be in St. Louis?

                            The advantage with the Rams at this point is they are the only team allowed to negotiate with Saffold until just before the start of free agency March 11. (There is a three-day window to contact and negotiate with players from other teams on March 8, 9, and 10.)

                            Already there are rumblings of potential interest from other teams, including NFC West rival Arizona.

                            WILLIAMS, TOO

                            Fisher said the Rams are interested in re-signing left guard Chris Williams as well. Williams, who’s also scheduled for unrestricted free agency, was the Rams’ only offensive lineman to start all 16 games in 2013.

                            “Yeah, we had a really good visit when he left (for the offseason),” Fisher said. “He’d like to come back and it makes sense that we would try (to re-sign him). He played good; he was solid. When you don’t hear his name, you don’t talk about him.”

                            WHAT ABOUT FINNEGAN?

                            Although speaking optimistically, Fisher and general manager Les Snead were less definitive about the future of Cortland Finnegan in St. Louis. The cornerback has three years remaining on a five-year, $50 million contract. It seems unlikely the team would want him back at his current cap figure of $10 million for 2014.

                            Short of releasing Finnegan,...
                            -02-22-2014, 10:08 PM
                          • MauiRam
                            Saffold knows he'll get punked, but still being a Ram makes it all good ..
                            by MauiRam
                            Saffold knows he'll get punked, but still being a Ram makes it all good
                            By Nate Latsch

                            Rodger Saffold knows something is coming. The St. Louis Rams' offensive lineman can feel it. He just isn't sure when.

                            But, yes, he's well aware that his offseason free agency odyssey from St. Louis to Oakland and then back to St. Louis has provided some material for his wannabe prank-artist teammates.

                            "I know that they are planning and scheming," Saffold tells FOXSportsMidwest.com. "I know that when we were out in our little sandbox area everybody was joking, saying that we were on Oakland's beach. So I had to take that.

                            "I was like, 'Oh, OK,'" Saffold continues, letting out a fake laugh. "That's funny. Hilarious. They are going to get me. I can feel it coming. It's kind of like when you know that people are talking about you behind your back."

                            Saffold isn't worried about most of his teammates, many of whom are younger and less established than the four-year NFL veteran blocker, who soon will be 25. Only one particularly concerns him: center Scott Wells.

                            "Because I'm the third-oldest guy, there aren't a lot of people that can play jokes on me," Saffold says. "Only the top two guys (Wells and Jake Long). Everyone else is like, 'I don't know if I want to do this.' I already know that Scott has something up his sleeve. I'm worried about it, honestly."

                            It's easy to laugh about now, more than two months later, after Saffold signed a new five-year contract worth more than $31 million with the Rams just days after he agreed to a five-year, $42.5 million deal with the Raiders that was nullified by Oakland because of a failed physical.

                            Saffold is happy to be back in St. Louis and the Rams, who would have had to replace two starters on the offensive line had he left, are certainly happy to have him.

                            Saffold proved his value last season when he started games at right tackle before suffering an injury, then right guard upon his return, and then shifting to left tackle -- where he started his first three seasons -- following Long's season-ending knee injury.

                            So Saffold's presence strengthens a line that lost guards Chris Williams (Buffalo) and Shelley Smith (Miami) to free agency and released Harvey Dahl (still unsigned).


                            "You've got four returning starters," Saffold says. "You can't do much better than that. Now we just have to fill in a couple gaps, get some depth. That's all for Les (Snead) and coach (Jeff) Fisher. They are the ones who are going to be making those decisions. We just have to keep working."

                            After re-signing Saffold, the Rams selected Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, claimed backup Travis Bond after he was released by Carolina and signed free agent...
                            -05-31-2014, 10:36 PM
                          • MauiRam
                            Saffold's back, and at right guard/PD/JT
                            by MauiRam
                            By Jim Thomas

                            The big fella is back in uniform and all about the business of getting ready for the season opener Sept. 13 against Seattle.
                            One of the strongest players on the team, and easily the most experienced starter on the offensive line, Rodger Saffold immediately makes the Rams a better blocking team.

                            “Rodger’s back on the field a little bit, doing some stuff,” coach Jeff Fisher said after Tuesday’s practice. “He’ll be questionable for Thursday, but obviously, definitely, he’s in a really good position for the opener.”

                            The Rams close out the preseason Thursday at the Edward Jones Dome with the almost annual Governor’s Cup game against Kansas City. Then it’s on to the real deal — Seattle and opening day.

                            Saffold left no doubt about his availability for that one.

                            “Absolutely,” he replied.

                            In fact, he even provided a position.

                            “I’m gonna go ahead and play right guard,” Saffold said. “The coaches really felt the way that things have been going we would be firmer (in that alignment).”

                            Suddenly, four-fifths of the Rams’ starting offensive line looks set for Seattle, with Greg Robinson (left) and rookie Rob Havenstein (right) at tackle, and rookie Jamon Brown (left) and Saffold (right) at guard. As for center? TBD.

                            Brown has missed both practices this week with an ankle injury but is expected to be fine for Seattle. As for Saffold, it seems like forever since he last played, but in truth it’s been less than three weeks. He went out on the Rams’ fourth offensive play of the Aug. 14 preseason opener in Oakland.

                            “It was just an awkward hit,” Saffold said. “I was definitely ready to (return) sooner than (the coaches) wanted. But I understand for the sake of the season, and for the sake of some of these guys to get some experience playing ball, I needed to wait.”

                            Saffold underwent surgery on his left shoulder immediately following the 2014 season; the injury in Oakland was a tweak of his right shoulder.

                            Saffold has enough experience that it shouldn’t be a problem being mentally ready and technique ready for Seattle. They’re a familiar opponent.

                            “He’s played a lot of games,” Fisher said. “He’s played the Seahawks. He understands, so I’m not concerned about that. The one thing that he’s doing is he’s getting the walk-through reps, so the communication is very sound up front with the young guys.”

                            Because of past injuries, Saffold also is used to playing with a brace or wrap around his shoulder, and used to getting ready to play in a short period of time. Even so, there is that little matter of getting into “football shape” — the banging and...
                            -09-02-2015, 12:05 AM
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