ST. LOUIS (AP) Center Scott Wells’ return after breaking his foot in the season opener figures to strengthen the St. Louis Rams’ offensive line at two spots.
Robert Turner has been consistent as the stand-in starter for nine games and could start at left guard this week at Arizona. He’s been a take-charge guy from the start, carrying his blocks downfield and usually showing up first after the tackle to keep the pile clean and give his running back a helping hand.
“If I take a guy out of the play, that’s one less guy that can jump on him,” Turner reasoned. “That’s one less guy that rips at the ball; that’s one less guy that’s going to take a shot at somebody standing around the pile. Simple as that.”
Turner’s father was one of his coaches on his first team and emphasized that he should “play through the whistle.”
“I’m not trying to get dumb penalties. I’m not trying to take illegal shots at guys,” Turner said. “But he taught me to be a hard-nosed player and it was just instilled early, and that’s just who I am.”
Turner’s versatility on the line was a plus when the Rams (3-6-1) signed him to a one-year, low-budget free agent deal as a high-quality backup at center and guard. Familiarity with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer from when both were with the New York Jets didn’t hurt, either.
Turner, who started the opener at left guard, and right guard Harvey Dahl are the only linemen who have started every game. Turner could replace Shelley Smith, who has made the last four starts at left guard but has struggled lately.
“Rob, gosh, he just filled right in from the get go,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “He’s keeping everybody calm and makes the calls and adjustments.”
Turner didn’t tout himself for a start at guard. Far from it: He said that if Smith got another shot, he’d be fine with it. But he’s pleased with what he’s been able to accomplish at center.
“I feel like I’ve made the most of it,” Turner said. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to stay somewhere for an extended period of time. Obviously, Scott coming back is a big lift, and we’re going to put the five best guys out there.”
Wells left the Packers to sign a four-year, $24 million free agent deal with St. Louis. But he missed the first two preseason games rehabbing from right knee surgery, then got hurt in the first half of the opener at Detroit.
It’s the first time in his career that the 31-year-old Wells, a Pro Bowler last year with Green Bay, missed more than two consecutive weeks.
“It’s been frustrating,” Wells said. “But at the same time as a professional you have to try to stay engaged mentally. That’s why sitting in the meetings has been important.”
Quarterback Sam Bradford said the only adjustment will be getting comfortable with Wells’ style of snapping, which he said is different from Turner’s.
Activating Wells came at the expense of special teams captain Brit Miller, the starting fullback, who was released. The Rams have had less need for a fullback with tight end Lance Kendricks filling that role at times. Also, Fisher has been impressed with the development of third-string tight end Cory Harkey.