ST. LOUIS — Rodger Saffold has been both a right tackle and a salesman lately.
Two weeks after dislocating his left shoulder, he is doing his best to convince his team’s decision makers to buy in on the belief he can play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Denver Broncos.
“Right now I feel good,” Saffold said Thursday. “I feel confident.”
“I always feel like I’m ready to go, enough to get pulled back and told, ‘Hey, calm down.’ We’ve got to think about this smart. But I’m really confident. I think me telling them how confident I feel, they could give me a chance to go. But I’m going to leave it up to Reggie [Rams head trainer Reggie Scott] and coach Fisher.”
Saffold, who has been easing back into recent practices with the help of a brace worn beneath his pads, might not be itching for preseason reps this bad if it wasn’t for his current situation. Just two plays into his first in-game action after making the switch from left to right tackle — a swap required when the Rams signed veteran free agent Jake Long — he went down. The expected starter hasn’t been back since, missing meaningful reps in practice and, more important, preseason games.
Saffold discussed what exactly happened in that August 8 meeting with the Browns on Thursday, and explained why he hopes to get back on the field before the Rams open the regular season in Arizona.
“I kind of got caught in a weird punch,” Saffold said. “He (Cleveland linebacker Paul Kruger) tried to slap my arms. I pushed through the arms slaps. After that, I tried to work the arm. I could feel something wrong, started trying to push him, flipped over. As soon as I looked down I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s out.'”
Former Rams running back Marshall Faulk, who was in the TV booth during the game, saw it the same way. He hinted that Saffold’s misplay of the block might have contributed to the awkwardness that led to injury. Saffold didn’t necessarily dispute that correlation.
“When you’re in a game, the adrenaline is rushing,” Saffold said. “So, you’ve got to be more patient sometimes than you are on the practice field. That’s something you need to get a hold of so I don’t put end up putting myself in bad positions, leaning and stuff like that.”
Saffold isn’t sure if he will play Saturday. The guy who has been filling in quite adequately behind him, Joe Barksdale, says he hasn’t yet been told if he will start again. That call is in Fisher’s hands, and the coach isn’t saying anything with certainty yet.
“Rodger was much better,” Fisher said after Saffold practiced Wednesday. “It’s good to get him out, get him in pads and get him going. We’ll continue to watch him with expectations that he should be able to play.”
When, though, is the question. Saffold respects Fisher’s decision. But it isn’t stopping him from making his sales pitch.
“Those reps are seriously important,” he said. “That’s why I hope they lean toward putting me in for a little bit. And then after that I can go on from there. But I think the way we are taking it is a smart way. It feels completely stable now. I’m ready to go out and play again.”
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