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Rookie Joseph Noteboom could be the backup plan Rams desperately need

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  • Rookie Joseph Noteboom could be the backup plan Rams desperately need

    NewRookie Joseph Noteboom could be the backup plan Rams desperately need

    By Vincent Bonsignore

    LOS ANGELES — By the time the ice hockey career of Joseph Noteboom topped out in the 11th grade, he was pushing 6-foot-5 and well over 250 pounds. He was a big, fast, tough defenseman whose skating skills defied his imposing frame. The job description was pretty simple: Go find the guy with the puck and crush him.

    Noteboom had a particular knack for spotting unsuspecting puck carriers along the boards and then hurling himself at them with all his size, strength and might. Pity the poor opposing player and plexiglass when he timed everything up just right. Which was often.

    “Oh yeah, for sure. I was a big guy so that was my job,” said Noteboom, his devilish grin about as chilling as you’d imagine.

    About the only thing more absurd than imagining a kid that big flying around an ice hockey rink was the location. When you think hockey, Plano, Texas doesn’t exactly come to mind. But then, who would have thought a town in the middle of Texas would catch the hockey bug like Plano did in the 2000s? But that’s exactly what happened deep in the heart of football country.

    Before you knew it, nearly every kid in the region wanted to be Sidney Crosby.

    Or in Noteboom’s case, Drew Doughty.

    “In my area (hockey is) really big,” Noteboom said. “There were at least five ice rinks within 10 miles.”

    The pull of football and a prolonged growth spurt meant hanging up the hockey skates for good. That decision more than six years ago was as easy as it was wise, and it has led him to Los Angeles, where he’s a rookie offensive linemen with the Rams.

    Now 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, Noteboom delivered a crisp, efficient performance in a 19-15 preseason win over the Oakland Raiders on Saturday that, coupled with a strong training camp, gives the Rams hope they shrewdly uncovered a starting-caliber NFL lineman in the third round.

    Somehow a man as big as Noteboom went missing from the NFL’s draft radar last April over the first 88 picks, allowing the TCU standout to fall right to the very fortunate Rams at pick No. 89. They went into the draft needing to add youth and depth to a position that was top heavy and extraordinarily lucky last year. They left it with Noteboom, Maine tackle Jamil Demby and Michigan State centre Brian Allen.
    All three have played well enough to at least allow the Rams to ponder the possibility that they secured three potential future starters.

    That’s no small feat considering left tackle Andrew Whitworth is pushing 37, center John Sullivan is 33 and right tackle Rob Havenstein, left guard Rodger Saffold and right guard Jamon Brown are all free agents at the end of the season.

    The likelihood the Rams go through another season like 2016 essentially unscathed along the offensive line — they needed just one half of play from a reserve last year — are slim. Chances are one or all of their rookies will be pressed into duty at some point. And with Brown suspended for the first two games of the regular season after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Noteboom could be a candidate to replace him along with veteran Austin Blythe.

    But even if they don’t need the rookies this year, the Rams — with their age and finances and the NFL’s hard salary cap — will need one or two new O-line starters to emerge in the very near future.

    Noteboom (70) played both tackle spots and right guard against the Raiders. (Photo by Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
    Noteboom appears the surest bet, at least initially. He played both tackle positions and some right guard Saturday against the Raiders, remaining in the game until the end of the third quarter. And he accounted himself quite well, flashing smooth footwork, balance and hands warding off pass rushers, and power and tenacity in run blocking. The Raiders sat most of their starters, so context is important, but just one month and two preseason games into his career, Noteboom continues to flourish even as the Rams thrust him into stressful situations by challenging him to play multiple positions.

    “He’s shown a lot of good, encouraging signs for us,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “Confident. Smart, conscientious player.”

    “He’s come in as a rookie and done everything asked of him,” said Whitworth, who has taken all three of the Rams’ young linemen under his wing. “He continues to show why he was a good player in college, and he’s continued to improve each and every time he gets an opportunity. And that’s what you want to see from a young lineman.”

    You don’t play as long as Whitworth has and not know what to look for in a good lineman or how they should carry or conduct themselves. The veteran Pro Bowler has pulled aside Noteboom to point out certain things — what he did well, what he could do better — or to offer tips on an assignment or technique. Noteboom has quietly and appreciatively soaked it all in.

    You can tell a lot about a guy by not only how he plays, but also how he accepts and processes criticism or advice. And Noteboom has left an impression as a player and a young teammate.

    “He’s one of those guys that, honestly, he’s got the right character and attitude to be a really good football player,” Whitworth said.

    As Noteboom was leaving the Coliseum on Saturday, he was already thinking about aspects of his performance to focus on in film study. He’ll narrow it down to two or three specific areas and then work on them in practice. Off the top of his head, he said he wants to get a better command of the playbook so he can play more freely rather than thinking so much. That’s easier said than done when you’re cross-training at three different positions, but as he showed against the Raiders, Noteboom is handling everything the Rams are putting on his plate.

    “It’s all there for what you need to be successful,” Whitworth said. “He has the talent and all the things needed to be a good player. He just has to keep progressing.”

Related Topics


  • Nick
    With First OTAs Complete, Noteboom Feels Good About Progress
    by Nick
    With First OTAs Complete, Noteboom Feels Good About Progress
    Posted Jun 7, 2018
    Kristen Lago
    Rams Writer/Reporter

    In April, left tackle Joseph Noteboom was one of over 400 college prospects eager to make his dreams a reality by becoming a professional athlete. Now eight weeks later, a lot has changed for the TCU product.

    Not only was he selected by the Rams in the third-round of this year’s draft, but he has also completed his first set of OTAs in the NFL — marking a significant transition for the 22-year old.

    “[It was] pretty awesome,” Noteboom said. “The main difference has been being on your own. You’re not babied as much, so you have to be more accountable and responsible. But you learn quick. It’s the NFL — you do everything you can to stay here.”

    The three-week session was the left tackle’s first taste of playing in the league, something he says has been “pretty on par from what I thought” heading into it. And although the Rams’ high-speed offense is admittedly more detailed than his college scheme, Noteboom has been fortunate to learn from a talented group of linemen.

    Last season, the club’s offensive line was ranked among the best in the league and features one of the top tackles in the game in Andrew Whitworth. As he did in 2017, the 13-year veteran has made a point to take the younger players under his wing.

    “He’s really a laid-back guy, but really experienced,” Noteboom said. “He has these little details he can tell you about that no one really knows [and] he’s so willing to help us. It’s not like a waste of his time, he’s glad to help. Usually he comes up to us and tells us stuff.”

    But it’s not just the mentorship from the older vets that has surprised the rookie tackle. For Noteboom, one of the most exciting aspects of OTAs was getting to observe and learn from head coach Sean McVay.

    “I knew he was a good coach from what he did last year, but seeing him, he knows every position — their

    techniques, their footwork, everything like that,” he explained. “Just really impressed with him and seeing in person what a great coach he is.”

    And now that Noteboom has a feel for both the coaching staff and roster, he is hopeful that during the rest of the offseason his progress will come more steadily.

    “Just knowing the playbook front to back and knowing exactly what to do, so I don’t have to think about it so much,” Noteboom said of his offseason goals. “Just work on my technique from here on out.”
    -06-10-2018, 07:49 AM
  • Nick
    Noteboom, Allen poised to step up after departures of Saffold, Sullivan
    by Nick
    Noteboom, Allen poised to step up after departures of Saffold, Sullivan
    hursday, Mar 14, 2019 03:40 PM
    Myles Simmons

    With former Rams left guard Rodger Saffold signing with the Titans on Thursday, there are officially two positions to fill on Los Angeles’ starting offensive line.

    Saffold in particular is a significant void, as he’s been a part of the Rams’ five up front since he was the No. 33 overall pick in the 2010 draft. The other is center, as Los Angeles declined to pick up John Sullivan's option for 2019.

    But change is a constant in the NFL, and Los Angeles is prepared to go into the offseason program with what would be two first-year starters in Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen.

    Noteboom and Allen were the Rams’ first two draft picks last year, starting in the third round. And with a season of practices under their belts — both were able to get in reps with the first-team offense when left tackle Andrew Whitworth and Sullivan received their veteran rest days — Noteboom and Allen should be ready to step up and excel.

    “Here’s what we did last year in drafting Noteboom and Brian Allen — we did have a projection that at some point we’d have to groom them to become starters,” general manager Les Snead said this week. “The thing you hear about Joe is that he’s versatile, he could then fill in for Rodger. And then at the end of the day, you are still grooming him to maybe be a Whitworth replacement or heir apparent in time, but you still need to replenish that, right? So we will look around, let’s say, in the veteran market and scrutinize the draft like we did last year. Because then the goal would be to draft a younger player, let them develop, evolve for a year, and when their time comes [they can become starters].”

    The Rams drafted Noteboom with the intention of him becoming the Rams’ next left tackle. But he does have the versatility to play inside on the offensive line at guard. Last year, for instance, run game coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer had Noteboom cross-training at guard during the offseason program and training camp. Now he should have the experience necessary to potentially start at left guard in 2019, with Allen stepping in at center to replace John Sullivan.

    “I think when you do draft those two players, it is eventually with the anticipation that they can become and ascend into a starting role,” head coach Sean McVay said this week. “What you do feel good about is the way that we practice — specific to that left side of our line — Brian and Joe have gotten a lot of valuable reps, even though it might be in practice, that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise because they are playing behind veteran players. I think seeing the way those guys practice, but then also them getting a lot more reps because of the way that we did it with John, with Rodger, and with Andrew, has enabled them to get a lot of...
    -03-17-2019, 07:44 AM
  • Nick
    Rams’ 2019 draft reflects production over measurables: A player-by-player look
    by Nick
    Rams’ 2019 draft board reflects emphasis on production over measurables: A player-by-player look
    By Vincent Bonsignore Apr 27, 2019 6

    The​ Rams came into the​ 2019​ draft​ holding their only​ first-round pick since​ 2016 and​ with various​ holes to fill​ both presently​​ and for the future.

    They never got around to pulling the trigger on their first-round selection, opting to trade it away instead. They poured the assets they got in return into a handful of subsequent trades to steer themselves up and down the draft board to acquire eight players they believe will not only compete for roster spots but also lock down important roles.

    The common thread among them — and characteristics the Rams put a particular emphasis on at the earliest stage of the draft-evaluation process — is intelligent, tough, productive players with a passion to play football.

    Players who consistently show up on tape, if not always in physical measurables.

    So much so that general manager Les Snead has a written reminder to that effect on an office whiteboard.

    “The answers to your questions are basically right in front of you when you sit down and watch the kids play football on film when you do it December and April,” Snead said. “Take the testing — you always go back to the tape, right, and watch him play football.”

    It may sound cliché, but as a Rams source told The Athletic, “It’s where we’ve had so much success the past few years.”

    Their draft board this year reflects the emphasis they put on production over measurables.

    Washington safety Tayler Rapp ran a pedestrian 40 at his pro day. But his game tape showcased a hard-nosed, instinctual defensive playmaker. The Rams took him in the second round and believe he’ll compete for immediate playing time.

    Rapp’s teammate, Huskies defensive lineman Greg Gaines, is on the shorter side at just 6-foot-1. But he was one of the best run-stuffers in the Pac-12 and dominated against his peers at the Senior Bowl. The Rams traded up in the fourth round on Saturday to select him with the 134th pick overall and have already pegged him as their starting nose tackle in the base 3-4 defense.

    Their last pick, Texas Tech inside linebacker Dakota Allen, was kicked out of college after being arrested for burglary, then worked his way back to Lubbock after all charges were eventually dropped, and he has been a model citizen and productive player ever since.

    Where some teams removed Allen from their board altogether, the Rams sat down with him face-to-face and reached out to the people who know him best at Texas Tech.

    They were satisfied with how Allen owned his mistakes and impressed with how ardently people vouched for him. On tape, he was a tackling machine who they believe will add special teams flair and...
    -05-04-2019, 05:25 AM
  • MauiRam
    Boudreau discusses Rams' new-look OL
    by MauiRam
    Paul Boudreau Press Conference transcript

    Aug 11, 2015 | 10:54 am

    ST. LOUIS — Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau expressed his surprise following Monday’s evening practice session that a group of reporters would be interested in speaking with him.
    “Usually they talk to me after a bad sack day,” Boudreau joked.

    But the veteran line coach is in the spotlight this training camp as he works to get the Rams’ young and inexperienced group ready for the regular season.

    Four players who started up front for last season’s regular season opener are no longer with St. Louis. In their place are two rookies in right tackle Rob Havenstein and right guard Jamon Brown, one second-year player in left tackle Greg Robinson and the three players competing for the center spot, Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones and Demetrius Rhaney.

    “We have a bunch of young guys just learning how to play and the good thing is we drafted guys that are smart and tough, so that’s the first thing, and it’s kind of jelling together,” Boudreau told reporters. “It’ll be a good example to see how we’ve taught Friday night and the work against Dallas is going to be invaluable. We get tired of hitting ourselves and it’s a new defense, a new style of defense. The big thing is every day, just don’t take a step back — you either get better or you get worse. You never stay the same. Just try to keep working hard and find the good things and point them out.”

    The Rams will open the four-game preseason schedule on the road against the Oakland Raiders on Friday and then head to Oxnard, Ca., to have joint practices with the Dallas Cowboys.

    Those should help the young Rams — the coach noted that this is the deepest group they’ve had up front — get a good taste of what they are in for this season. But they are also getting good looks every day in practice against defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ group, which features one of the best defensive lines in the league.

    “We have more meeting time and we have more meetings, kind of walk-through meetings,” Boudreau said. “With Gregg’s defense, I don’t think they are going to face too much different as the course of the year goes along. He throws everything at you. The communication is the big thing, making sure you understand what the next guy to you is doing and making sure that even if we’re wrong we’re doing it the same way and we can adjust it.”

    Boudreau said the first challenge the youngsters will face when making the transition to the NFL is the speed of the game.

    He noted that while they may have faced a player the caliber of 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney in college, they wouldn’t have faced a player like that every single day like they will in the NFL.

    “The other thing is the way the movement is,” Boudreau said. “If you’re coming from a team that runs the read-option...
    -08-12-2015, 01:08 AM
  • MauiRam
    Aaron Kromer on the Rams' rookie offensive line acquisitions
    by MauiRam

    By: Andrew Ortenberg | 2 hours ago

    When the dust settled after the NFL Draft and Les Snead was finally done wheeling and dealing, the Los Angeles Rams had made 11 picks. Three of them were offensive linemen, and while it’s tough to judge linemen without pads on during offseason work, offensive line coach Aaron Kromer is encouraged by their progress so far.

    First was tackle Joseph Noteboom at 89th overall in the third round. Then came center Brian Allen in the fourth, 111th overall. Next came small-school standout tackle Jamil Demby out of Maine in the sixth (192nd overall). Although the Rams return all five starters from last year’s line, the current group might not stick together much longer. All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth is 36, while Rob Havenstein, Jamon Brown and Rodger Saffold are all heading into the last year of their contracts. It makes sense that the Rams wanted to address both tackle and interior line in the draft, and the trio could turn out to be the future protectors of Jared Goff.

    Now that the Rams have gotten their initial look at this freshman class through rookie minicamp, OTAs, and regular minicamp, Kromer had some initial thoughts on the three new players and their transition to the NFL during a recent interview with the Rams' website Kromer said the trio has done “a great job of learning, understanding why things are happening, and trying to master those techniques.”

    Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Kromer was signed away from the Bills by coach Sean McVay, who added him as part of his initial Rams staff. After offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur left for the Titans, Kromer was promoted to run game coordinator this past January. Kromer was widely credited with helping the Rams offensive line go from one of the worst in the league to one of the best in just one year. He certainly knows the position well, having coached lines in the NFL since 2001, and likely had some sway in the Rams’ war room on draft day.

    Kromer hammered home that the rookies are strictly focused on learning and not actually doing at this point, saying “everything we do is schematics, technique” before the pads come on later this summer. He added that it’s hard to accurately evaluate linemen “until after training camp, during training camp, and during the preseason games when everything really starts happening fast.”

    Until then, it’ll be hard to tell what the Rams have in their three new draft picks. But Kromer seemed genuinely excited and bullish about the group’s future during his recent media availability. In an ideal world, none of them will see much playing time this year, but all three could potentially be key contributors down the line.

    I'd imagine these three will see plenty of playing time during the preseason. Maybe we get lucky and find a legit starter or two out this group. Tis the season of hope.!...
    -06-23-2018, 04:28 PM