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Wagoner: With Rodger Saffold Out, Rams Reshuffle Offensive Line...Again

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  • Wagoner: With Rodger Saffold Out, Rams Reshuffle Offensive Line...Again

    With Rodger Saffold out, Rams reshuffle offensive line ... again

    Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- When St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher announced last week that right guard Rodger Saffold would miss the rest of the season because of a pending shoulder surgery, it was clear the offensive line would have to make a change.

    And there was no doubt that veteran Garrett Reynolds would step into a spot on the line, it was just a matter of where. Apparently, the answer to that question is left guard, not the right side spot vacated by Saffold. That means a likely shift back to the right side for rookie Jamon Brown.

    Brown, a third-round pick out of Louisville, is no stranger to either spot after spending the offseason and most of the preseason at right guard before flipping to the left side for the first five games of the season.

    "Itís not too bad," Brown said. "I take it all the way back to college. Iíve been playing both sides of the line, left tackle and right tackle. So itís pretty much the same. Now itís just all about mastering the technique at the right side."

    That would mean Reynolds would head back over to the left side, the position he manned while Saffold recovered from the offseason shoulder surgery he had in January.

    Brown said making the change now after five games on the left side would come with some challenges though it's nothing he's not prepared to handle.

    "It can kind of play with your head," Brown said. "On the left side youíre used to certain plays and being the front side of the play now youíre on the right side and those plays you were the front side, now youíre the backside so it can get confusing at times. I think I do a pretty good job with it."

    After a preseason in which the Rams had next to no stability on the offensive line, an upheaval of any sort now is far from ideal, especially considering that unit's struggles in the first five weeks. Of course, Saffold's injury left no choice in the matter, but the Rams are still seeking consistency from a group that entered the season as the team's biggest question mark.

    At least in this move, Brown is going back to a spot in which he's familiar and puts him back next to right tackle Rob Havenstein.

    "Iím very confident," Brown said. "It doesnít skip a beat. Iíve worked with everybody in our room. It doesnít really matter who Iíll be working with. Iíll do my part and Iím sure everybody else will do theirs."

  • #2
    Re: Wagoner: With Rodger Saffold Out, Rams Reshuffle Offensive Line...Again

    Seems like a good idea. I mean, these rookies have played so well this year that I'm sure he'll be able to maintain his high level of play while also learning a position that he's never played before at the NFL level. :o

    /s

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Wagoner: With Rodger Saffold Out, Rams Reshuffle Offensive Line...Again

      Originally posted by AtlantaRamFan View Post
      Seems like a good idea. I mean, these rookies have played so well this year that I'm sure he'll be able to maintain his high level of play while also learning a position that he's never played before at the NFL level. :o

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Wagoner: With Rodger Saffold Out, Rams Reshuffle Offensive Line...Again

        I dont understand why there always has to be so many extreme changes. Why cant Reynolds just come in and play right guard? I thought that was one of the reasons the Rams kept him is because he could be plugged in at any position.
        Aim high Willis, Aim High!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Wagoner: With Rodger Saffold Out, Rams Reshuffle Offensive Line...Again

          Even though I despise Belacheat and the Cheatriots, they are doing something that is unique this season by bringing in the right personnel on the O Line to match the called play. This is done all the time on the defensive side. I don't know why other teams aren't picking up on this...??? I know that you have to have more offensive linemen on the payroll, but since this has been a problem for the RAMS all season, maybe it might be worth a look..
          Always a Rams Fan............

          Rex Allen Markel

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Wagoner: With Rodger Saffold Out, Rams Reshuffle Offensive Line...Again

            Originally posted by ram3057 View Post
            Even though I despise Belacheat and the Cheatriots, they are doing something that is unique this season by bringing in the right personnel on the O Line to match the called play. This is done all the time on the defensive side. I don't know why other teams aren't picking up on this...??? I know that you have to have more offensive linemen on the payroll, but since this has been a problem for the RAMS all season, maybe it might be worth a look..
            The Cheatriots doing this goes against everything we read and hear about the O-line needing time to play together as a unit and create the chemistry needed to be successful. Figures it's working for them...I see another investigation on the horizon...O-linegate!
            sigpic :ram::helmet:

            Comment

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            • 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
            • Rambos
              Saffold Settling in on Right Side
              by Rambos
              Nick Wagoner

              Rodger Saffold hadnít 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, heís played in dozens of games, exclusively on the left side.

              But now, after the Ramsí 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 hasnít been as difficult as he might have estimated originally.

              ďJust with changing stances, itís difficult because what you are used to doing, you have got to get that muscle memory and change everything up,Ē Saffold said. ďHonestly, it hasnít been as hard as I thought it was going to be.Ē

              In some sense, the main part of the transition is simply teaching the body to do the same things heís 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 heís seen from Saffold in making the move.

              ďFootball is football,Ē Fisher said. ďThe responsibilities are the same. Itís 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 heís done a great job since we moved him over.Ē

              Saffold has left no stone unturned in getting familiar with his new position. Heís 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 doesnít believe any of them will make or break his transition.
              ďThere are a few things that are different,Ē Saffold said. ďWhen you switch up, sometimes your depth perception of the defensive end is different. Itís hard to feel whether they really got your edge or you overset to let somebody inside. Itís repetition and with a good amount of reps that is all going to change.Ē...
              -05-23-2013, 03:07 PM
            • r8rh8rmike
              Move To Guard Changed Much For Saffold
              by r8rh8rmike
              Move to guard changed much for Saffold

              March, 14, 2014
              By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com

              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. " Itís hard to find a better one in the league than ĎBou.' 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, 01:52 PM
            • MauiRam
              Rams' Saffold finds peace in switch to right tackle
              by MauiRam
              Ben Frederickson

              ST. LOUIS -- Rodger Saffold wasn't pleased.

              The position was a part of his identity. In the 47 games the St. Louis Rams had played since 2010, he had started there 35 times. Only injuries had kept No. 76 from his place. He was the Rams' left tackle, a title synonymous with big money and respect. He was the protector of star quarterback Sam Bradford's blind side.

              Until suddenly, without a chance to fight for it, the job was no longer his.

              "I think it was more of a shock than anything," St. Louis Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau said. "He had some moments, as we will say in our room."

              When the Rams signed former Miami Dolphins left tackle Jake Long to a four-year, $34 million contract in late March, the team described the acquisition of the elite lineman as a no-brainer. Long was the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, a 6-foot-7, 319-pound mountain of a man who had made four Pro Bowls in five years. The team celebrated while Saffold wrestled with the request he knew would come next.

              His agent had made it clear Saffold was not interested switching positions when the Rams started courting Long. Some wondered if Saffold, entering the last year of his rookie contract with the team, would skip voluntary organized team activities as a sign of protest.

              "I hadn't played right tackle since ninth grade," Saffold explained, after the dust finally settled.

              Boudreau understood Saffold's initial reaction, the 'moments' he would rather leave in the past. He figured his upset tackle would come around, and he was right.

              "Rodger is not that kind of kid," Boudreau said. "He wants to win. He wants to be part of the winning tradition we are going to start here. So, heís going to make it work.Ē

              So here was Saffold this offseason, relearning a position his 25-year-old body had not played in a decade. He says he is on board now, and his coaches have praised his selflessness for embracing the switch. His continued willingness to adapt will be influential for the Rams' 2013 season, as well as the rest of Saffold's career.


              Boudreau uses a baseball metaphor.

              Imagine a Major Leaguer changing his swing from left to right. The instincts that make the hitter a pro, his ability to track pitches and send the ball a certain way, are still there. It's the awkwardness of the unfamiliar swing that makes it hard.

              Or, here's one anyone can try.

              "If you're right-handed, start writing left-handed," Boudreau said.

              Boudreau has coached NFL offensive linemen since 1987. He knew Saffold, unlike some left tackles, could make the switch to the right side. He cited the 6-foot-5, 314-pound player's all-around athleticism, hip flexibility, use of leverage and proficiency at run blocking as evidence....
              -07-12-2013, 11:56 PM
            • r8rh8rmike
              Rams Sticking To Right Tackle Rotation
              by r8rh8rmike
              Rams sticking to right tackle rotation

              October, 26, 2013
              By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com

              EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams are apparently in no hurry to make a decision on a permanent fixture at right tackle after the return of Rodger Saffold from a knee injury last week against Carolina.

              Saffold suffered the knee injury in Week 2 against Atlanta and Joe Barksdale filled in admirably while Saffold recovered. Instead of sticking to one of the two last week, the Rams actually opted to split time between the two and nearly did so in an even 50/50 manner.

              Against the Panthers, Barksdale started and played 31 snaps and Saffold played 30. It's worth noting Saffold seemed to get a bit more of the work toward the end of the game, though that could have been a coincidence.

              Coach Jeff Fisher said earlier this week that the Rams would likely continue to keep the time share going against Seattle.

              ďI think weíll stick with that, the rotation right now," Fisher said.

              The Rams clearly aren't afraid of using a rotation on the offensive line. They've been doing it at left guard with starter Chris Williams and Shelley Smith for the past few weeks and did so again against Carolina with Williams playing 38 snaps to Smith's 23.

              The situation at right tackle appears to be a bit different in terms of the way the time is split up, however. Although it's a one-week sample size, the 50 percent split could be more easily interpreted as a way to get Saffold back up to full health before re-installing him at his starting spot.

              Of course, if Saffold continues to play how he did against the Panthers last week, the situation could resolve itself. Saffold looked like he hadn't missed a beat against the Panthers and was downright impressive on most of his snaps.

              Fisher isn't one to throw around lofty praise for any of his players, so what he said shouldn't be taken lightly when asked about Saffold earlier this week.

              "Rodger played well," Fisher said. "It was good to see him. He was very active, second level in the run game. Pass protection was good, strong, short of dominating at times in the game. As did Joe."

              From looking at the film, Barksdale was OK but Saffold was clearly the better of the two. As we discussed last week, there are some long-term implications to consider when looking at the right tackle situation.

              Saffold is an unrestricted free agent after the season and Barksdale remains under the Rams' control. The Rams have had a good look at Barksdale the past month-plus but could want to see more before deciding where they go in the offseason. Saffold's future in St. Louis remains up in the air. It's absolutely possible that an offensive tackle will be high on the team's wish list come free agency and, more likely, the draft.
              ...
              -10-26-2013, 09:48 AM
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