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Bill Barnwell- ESPN article


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  • MauiRam
    Jared Goff already notices a difference with Rams' new O-line ..
    1:30 AM HST
    Alden Gonzalez
    ESPN Staff Writer

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Rams' offense flowed better -- better than it did at any point last season -- during Saturday's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, which offered the first meaningful sample size under this new, offensive-minded coaching staff. Jared Goff was more efficient, Todd Gurley was more patient, the receivers and tight ends were more, well, open.

    But there was something else: The pocket looked cleaner, a product of a new offensive line that should be a lot stronger on Goff's blind side.

    A reworked line and a new offense could keep Jared Goff (16) from absorbing the type of beating the quarterback took during his rookie season.
    Goff himself is already noticing the difference.

    "No doubt," the second-year quarterback said. "I think just as a whole, they’ve really worked together. They’re starting to jell, and I think you saw that last Saturday. The Oakland defensive line is no slouch. They’ve got some dudes over there, and they did a great job keeping them away and giving me a good pocket. It wasn’t just throw it and get hit; it was clean the whole night. It was. No one really around me."

    Behind the Rams' offensive line last season, Goff absorbed an NFL-high 25 sacks over the final six weeks and Gurley averaged 1.59 yards before first contact for the entire season, ranked 41st among 42 running backs with enough carries to qualify.

    The Rams have since replaced Greg Robinson, one of the game's worst left tackles, with Andrew Whitworth, one of the game's best. They kept Rodger Saffold, their best offensive lineman last season, at left guard. And they brought in veteran center John Sullivan, who spent last season as a backup under Sean McVay -- now the Rams head coach -- with the Redskins and seems to be fully recovered from prior back injuries. On the right side are third-year players Rob Havenstein (tackle) and Jamon Brown (guard).

    Gurley needed only eight carries to reach 38 rushing yards Saturday, and Goff only took one sack, courtesy of reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Through the first two preseason games, Pro Football Focus has the Rams' first-team offensive line allowing just three pressures on 109 pass-blocking attempts.

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    That is stunningly low for any team, but particularly the Rams.

    "It’s been a good camp," Gurley said. "We’ve been getting better. Each game, we’ll see how we do. We just have to go out there and just compete and communicate. Even though I might have a 1-yard run, we may have done one or two things, whether it’s me or a lineman or someone back side -- 1-yard runs can always be 20-yard runs. It’s just the little things, going out there...
    -08-25-2017, 10:31 AM
  • MauiRam
    Saffold, has seen it all and wants to come back for more ..
    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
  • RockinRam
    Andrew Whitworth
    I've noticed something about Whitworth...

    This guy looks massive. The rest of our offensive linemen are not small, but when anyone stands next to Whitworth, Whitworth dwarfs them. Last week, Saffold looked like a child next to him. Whitworth is a man among boys and it's been showing on the field. The guy is strong and I don't think we will see a decline in performance from him anytime soon.
    -08-19-2017, 08:16 PM
  • AvengerRam
    Snap judgments I’ll probably regret later...
    1. Tonight made me question whether Sammy Watkins is worth the price would likely have to be paid to keep him.

    2. The guy I may want the most in the draft is Vita Vea, NT, Washington. We have to get more stout against the run.

    3. Sean McVay should get fined every time the Rams lose and Todd Gurley has less than 20 carries.

    4. I hope Gerald Everett can develop, because I have virtually no faith in Tyler Higbee.

    5. Rob Havenstein, in my mind, is the one starter on the OL who is a question mark....
    -01-06-2018, 09:44 PM
  • MauiRam
    No holdout coming from Saffold over switch to RT
    By Jim Thomas

    No, Rodger Saffold isn’t happy about his impending switch to right tackle for the Rams. But those close to Saffold insist he won’t be a malcontent and won’t be a holdout.

    Saffold will participate in the Rams’ official offseason conditioning program, which starts Monday, although technically participation is “voluntary.” And as long as he’s a Ram, he’ll be there for minicamps, OTAs, training camp and the preseason.

    He will do what he has to do to protect his contract, which means playing out the 2013 season to the best of his ability under the last year of the contract he signed as a second-round draft choice out of Indiana University in 2010.

    It’s unclear if Saffold has formally requested a trade from the Rams. But at the very least, Saffold’s representatives have let the Rams know that Saffold wouldn’t be opposed to a trade, according to league sources.

    At the moment, however, the Rams have all the leverage and Saffold has none. If the Rams have no desire to trade Saffold, he has no option but to play out the 2013 season and finish out his contract. And that could very well be how things end up.

    Long before the Rams brought in free-agent left tackle Jake Long for a visit and ultimately signed him, the Rams have consistently indicated that re-signing Saffold was a priority. They like him as a player, and like how he played down the stretch last season.

    But business is business, and when the Rams saw an opportunity to add a four-time Pro Bowler (Long) to help protect quarterback Sam Bradford, they leaped at the chance. Those close to Saffold said he felt blindsided by the news that Long, the former Miami Dolphin, was visiting St. Louis. Saffold didn’t know about the visit until Long had arrived in St. Louis for his visit.

    Saffold knew he would be switched to the right side if Long signed with the Rams. Long, of course, ended up signing a four-year, $34 million contract. So barring injury, Saffold will not have the opportunity to play the position of his choice in 2013.

    Early indications from the Rams are that they are not interested in trading Saffold. Interestingly, the Rams have had visits or have visits scheduled with three draft prospects that play offensive tackle: Alabama’s D.J. Fluker was in last week, Florida State’s Menelik Watson was in Tuesday and Virginia’s Oday Aboushi has an upcoming visit.

    All three are projected as right tackles.

    If the Rams drafted any of those three, would that make them more likely to trade Saffold? Almost all of the top free agents at tackle are off the market. That leaves a half-dozen or so NFL teams possibly looking for help at left tackle: Arizona, Buffalo, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans and San Diego. Once the top three or four tackles are gone in the draft, there may be a couple of teams still looking for help as the first round winds...
    -04-10-2013, 12:17 AM