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  • Saffold knows he'll get punked, but still being a Ram makes it all good ..

    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 "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 Davin Joseph, a two-time Pro Bowler.

    If the Rams can stay healthy up front -- always a big if -- Saffold and Co. could be the strength of the offense next season, run-blocking for Zac Stacy, Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham and pass-blocking for Sam Bradford.

    Of course, staying healthy has been a problem for Saffold.

    After the Rams picked him in the second round of the 2010 draft he started all 16 games his rookie season. After that, though, he played nine games in 2011, 10 in 2012 and then 12 last season.

    "The second year was a torn pec in the weight room," Saffold says. "That was a freak accident. The third year was when I got the knee injury after picking up a fumble. So I'm just like, 'How many breaks can you get?' I think it's finally over. I would hope."

    He thought his bad luck was over early in the 2013 campaign, but after starting the first two games he would miss the next four with another injury.

    "I said if I'm gonna make it through the second game, I'm gonna be just fine," Saffold says. "Of course, it was the second game when the defensive lineman falls into my knee. I wasn't paying attention. I don't even see him at all. I just know it. That kind of stuff stinks. At the end of the day, what can you do? Now I'm in the middle, in the trenches, so most likely I'll see what's coming and, hopefully, I can protect myself."

    Now healthy, despite what the Raiders said, and happy, with his new contract, Saffold got right back to work at Rams Park after he re-signed.

    Saffold says he's as strong as ever -- he reports weighing 325 after playing last season around 317 -- and he's ready to take the next step in his career while helping the Rams take another big step forward.

    "I've just been trying to continue to perform at a level, the best I possibly can," Saffold says. "Not having sacks (allowed) last year. Only have one sack the year before. Those are huge, huge wins for me. The real key is just to make sure I continue to take care of my body and still play effectively like I've been doing."

    The big fella no longer has to worry about what might happen when he hits free agency. He has the security of a five-year deal.

    "Now it's time to try to perfect the technique and be the best in the league," Saffold says. "There's nothing else to worry about. Everything is taken care of. With no worries, you're able to play to your top potential. You can take risks in games. There's no more worrying about how you're going to perform in this game for what's to come in the offseason (as a free agent). It's just playing. My big thing is to play and get to a Pro Bowl. To play and to be an All-Pro. That's the goal for myself. For this team, it's to win a championship."

Related Topics


  • MauiRam
    Saffold, has seen it all and wants to come back for more ..
    by MauiRam
    Longest-tenured Ram, Rodger Saffold, has seen it all and wants to come back for more
    Lindsey Thiry

    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- There was commotion all around.

    It was a Friday afternoon inside the Los Angeles Rams' locker room, practice had run long and a caravan of buses was scheduled to leave the practice facility in less than 90 minutes for Los Angeles International Airport, where the team would depart for Detroit.

    As teammates scrambled to drive home to pack their belongings for the rare three-day road trip, Rodger Saffold milled about at a glacial pace. In a veteran move, he already had packed his suitcase and was ready to go. There was no need to rush to his Encino, California, home and back in time to avoid being left behind or risk a fine for tardiness.

    So Saffold settled on a small stool at his locker.

    “So, what’s it like to be the longest-tenured player here?” he was asked.

    “Yes, my life sucked until this point ...” Saffold responded.

    His tone was facetious, but the description had more truth than perhaps he would want you to believe.

    In nine seasons with the Rams, Saffold, 30, has been on a two-win team and experienced enough mediocrity to last a career. But now, in Sean McVay’s second season as coach, the 12-3 Rams have clinched a second-consecutive division title and are poised to make a deep playoff run.

    “He kind of sums up everything this franchise has been through to get to this point,” said D'Marco Farr, a longtime Rams radio broadcaster who played defensive tackle on the Rams’ 1999 Super Bowl team.

    Saffold has started 30 games over the past two seasons and has proved himself as a reliable left guard for a team that boasts the second-leading rusher in the NFL in Todd Gurley II and has kept Jared Goff upright while allowing him to pass for 4,273 yards this season.

    “What he enables us to do both in the run and the pass," McVay said, "the combination of his athleticism, his ability to get to the second level, play in space, but then also play with power, get removal at the line of scrimmage. You're not limited in any really scheme run-wise. He's a great matchup.”

    The Rams selected the University of Indiana product in the second round of the 2010 draft to protect the blind side of quarterback Sam Bradford. In nine seasons, Saffold has had so many coaches that it’s difficult to remember who has come and gone. Head coaches Steve Spagnuolo and Jeff Fisher preceded McVay. Saffold has seen six changes at offensive coordinator and has been instructed by three offensive line coaches. Oh, and he moved across the country when the franchise relocated from St. Louis.

    “It’s just been crazy,” Saffold said.

    At some point, the 7-9-ish seasons ran together. But there always were a few that stood out.

    -12-26-2018, 11:29 AM
  • MauiRam
    After crazy few days, Saffold welcomed back by Rams ..
    by MauiRam
    By Joe Strauss

    He was leaving for the money and Rodger Saffold made no apologies for it.

    Actually, Saffold wasn’t leaving as a free agent. He was gone. The dysfunctional Oakland Raiders offered him $42.5 million over five years because the only way the Raiders get players nowadays is to draft them, overpay them or scrape them off the street.

    Saffold was leaving the Rams for the money. Or, as he further explained Friday morning, doing it for his family, especially his young daughter.

    Saffold was in East Bay last Tuesday. He had discussed his decision with friends, including several former teammates, and had said goodbye to the Rams. Set to formalize the deal, Saffold was told to go into a room to take a call from his agent, Alan Herman, who informed Saffold he had flunked the Raiders’ physical due to concerns about a left shoulder that lifted 400 pounds 10 days earlier.

    Before speaking to his agent, Saffold thought he was guaranteed $21 million. Afterward, he had nothing.

    An organization reveals itself in different ways. If professional sports are cold, the National Football League carries a reputation as downright arctic. Players are commodities who rarely see the end of partially-guaranteed contracts. The Raiders emerged from last week wearing another level of stink.

    Rejected, the Rams could have wiped their hands of him, chuckled and classified Saffold’s misfortune as his comeuppance.

    Saffold described his decision to leave St. Louis as “business.” The Rams could have used his description to take its money elsewhere.

    Blast the Rams for their slow drift within this month’s free-agent market. They’ve yet to address a vulnerable secondary and a receiving corps that appeared to plateau last season. They appear wedded to developing players selected in the last two drafts. If they move for a free agent, they could add bad actor wideout Kenny Britt.

    But in Saffold’s case the organization showed something else.

    As Saffold twisted in limbo, Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff repeatedly assured Herman he would personally vouch for Saffold’s medicals. Demoff was even willing to speak directly to the Raiders on his ex-player’s behalf. (Such a conversation never took place.)

    It’s unclear if the Raiders harbored real concerns about Saffold’s shoulder or merely experienced buyer’s remorse over a deal widely lampooned within the league.

    Saffold’s reaction, however, was obvious: Return home. Return to St. Louis.

    “It was a slightly embarrassing feeling because I just didn’t want the Rams to feel a certain way,” Saffold explained at Rams Park Friday, adding that he would have had no issue accepting the Rams’ standing offer if not for the Raiders’ outrageous bid. (No, Saffold didn’t use the word “outrageous.”)

    “Like I said, this...
    -03-16-2014, 02:04 AM
  • Rambos
    Saffold Settling in on Right Side
    by Rambos
    Nick Wagoner

    Rodger Saffold hadn’t played any position but left tackle since his freshman year as a member of the Bedford High football team just outside of Cleveland.

    As a ninth grader playing for the Bearcats, Saffold was a right tackle. Since, he’s played in dozens of games, exclusively on the left side.

    But now, after the Rams’ high-profile signing of four-time Pro Bowler Jake Long to play left tackle, Saffold is re-learning a position long since forgotten.

    Like anything, there will be some growing pains for Saffold in making the switch but he said it hasn’t been as difficult as he might have estimated originally.

    “Just with changing stances, it’s difficult because what you are used to doing, you have got to get that muscle memory and change everything up,” Saffold said. “Honestly, it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it was going to be.”

    In some sense, the main part of the transition is simply teaching the body to do the same things he’s been doing for years on the left side on the other hand. The mechanics and footwork will almost certainly take some time to learn but the details will take a bit longer.

    Although Saffold has been working during on-field drills on his footwork and learning the right side for about a month now, this week has offered his first chance to participate in any sort of actual drills against competition.

    The Rams held their first Organized Team Activity on Tuesday and went through No. 2 on Thursday. While the sample size has been small, Rams coach Jeff Fisher has been pleased with what he’s seen from Saffold in making the move.

    “Football is football,” Fisher said. “The responsibilities are the same. It’s just at the point of attack when the ball goes to the right. Typically, the right tackle may have a tight end outside of him more often than the left tackle does. With a right handed quarterback you are typically right handed. But he’s done a great job since we moved him over.”

    Saffold has left no stone unturned in getting familiar with his new position. He’s spent time with defensive end Chris Long, who has helped him get acquainted with some of the pass rushing techniques and looks that he can expect to see while playing right tackle.

    In addition, Saffold has made a habit of staying after practice to get more footwork drills in and get some additional guidance from offensive line coach Paul Boudreau.

    So far, Saffold has noticed some differences on the right side but doesn’t believe any of them will make or break his transition.
    “There are a few things that are different,” Saffold said. “When you switch up, sometimes your depth perception of the defensive end is different. It’s hard to feel whether they really got your edge or you overset to let somebody inside. It’s repetition and with a good amount of reps that is all going to change.”...
    -05-23-2013, 04:07 PM
  • Rambos
    Saffold Working His Way Back
    by Rambos
    Nick Wagoner

    When Rodger Saffold crumpled to the ground, writhing in pain from a knee injury back in week 2 against Washington, he couldn’t help but wonder what it meant for his season and, big picture, his career.

    A year after having his second NFL season cut short by a torn pectoral injury in a weightlifting incident, Saffold wondered if he’d once again have to watch the bulk of the season from the sideline.

    “It just lets you know about the game,” Saffold said. “I had a long time to think. I didn’t know what was going on in my knee; it hurt so bad that I didn’t know if I’d be back this year. Right now it’s just been a bunch of blessings and getting a lot of help from (head athletic trainer) Reggie (Scott) and a lot of advice from the guys that has helped me get through it.”

    Nearly seven weeks from suffering that knee injury against the Redskins, Saffold appears to be on the verge of a return. In Wednesday’s practice, Saffold participated on a limited basis, working mostly in individual drills.

    On Thursday, Saffold followed a similar regiment as he continues to strengthen his left knee and work his way back.

    “They really don’t want me to go out there and just put everything on the table, especially during this week,” Saffold said. “So thankfully I am going to go out there and hopefully do a little bit more but if they decide to keep me continuing to do the same amount of reps I have been doing now, I just have to deal with that until next week.”

    The Rams have a bye week this week which should allow Saffold to continue to get healthier heading into next week’s preparation for the game against San Francisco. It remains to be seen if he’ll be back at full strength in time for that contest though that would ideally be the plan to plug him back in at left tackle for the *****.

    By his own admission, Saffold is not yet feeling close to 100 percent though he seems to be getting a bit closer with each passing day. In the meantime, he has not missed a single team-related event whether it’s a meeting or a trip to London.

    “No, not yet,” Saffold said. “Right now we have the bye week so this is a good time for me to continue to get up and do what I’ve got to do. From being in meetings and all those types of things, it’s been good for me; I am just staying in the game mentally. Every win and loss I have been with this team.”

    That Saffold’s knee injury happened in the first place was the result of a freakish incident not unlike the bench pressing one that befell him in 2011.

    In the first quarter of that Sept. 16 meeting with the Redskins, Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo broke through for a sack on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. In the process, Orakpo jarred the ball loose and Saffold scooped it up at Washington’s 28.

    Instead of falling on it, Saffold attempted to save his team some...
    -11-02-2012, 08:39 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Move To Guard Changed Much For Saffold
    by r8rh8rmike
    Move to guard changed much for Saffold

    March, 14, 2014
    By Nick Wagoner |

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For all of the bizarre things that took place in the past week to get offensive lineman Rodger Saffold back as a member of the St. Louis Rams and addressing the local media in a news conference Friday afternoon, the one move that really started it all happened Nov. 10.

    That was the day Saffold made his debut as a right guard against the Indianapolis Colts. It's hard to know for certain given the vagaries of the NFL but if that day had never happened, there's a strong possibility that Saffold wouldn't be a Ram nor would they have made much effort to keep him.

    To that point, the 2013 season had been relatively tumultuous for Saffold. Given Saffold's injury issues in 2012, the team signed Jake Long to play left tackle and asked Saffold to move to the right side. It was a move he didn't love but never publicly complained about. Then, after early-season injury issues again popped up, Saffold found himself sharing the right tackle spot with Joe Barksdale upon his return from a Week 2 knee injury.

    The previous three weeks before the game against Indianapolis, Saffold split reps with Barksdale. But the Rams wanted to get their five best offensive linemen on the field and with Barksdale and Saffold alternating at right tackle, they took one of those five off the field for chunks of the game. Long before that, there had been whispers that Saffold might be a better fit inside but it had never been tried because the Rams didn't have many options at tackle.

    So it was that Saffold, in looking for a chance to be on the field consistently, and the Rams, looking to put their best line together, hatched the plan to put Saffold at right guard. Rams coach Jeff Fisher recalled the pivotal decision spurred by offensive line coach Paul Boudreau on Friday afternoon.

    "Well, the conversation was initiated by Coach 'Bou'," Fisher said. " It’s hard to find a better one in the league than ‘Bou.' He just felt like with his understanding and his knowledge, the fact that he would line up next to Scott [Wells], and Scott could be of assistance to him and athletic ability -- it was an easy decision."

    Saffold worked at guard all week leading up to the Colts game, an experience that was foreign to him. But nearly from the moment he jumped into the lineup at guard, it looked like a natural fit.

    The pass protection part became easier as Saffold was no longer forced to cover so much ground against speedier rushers on the edge. He held up fine in that regard, but it was his ability as a run blocker that opened more than a few eyes to his potential inside.

    Saffold's athleticism and size allowed him to become the prototype pulling guard as the Rams often got him on the move and allowed him to open holes for...
    -03-15-2014, 02:52 PM