New surroundings for Rams tackle Barksdale
Joe Barksdale is finding himself in a lot of new situations these days.
The second-year tackle is with a new team, learning a new offense - and doing it in a different country.
Barksdale was picked up off waivers by the rebuilding St. Louis Rams last month after being dropped by Oakland, and was given his first career NFL start last weekend in a loss to the Green Bay Packers.
As if that wasn't enough of a whirlwind, he then had to hop on a trans-Atlantic flight with his teammates to London, where they'll face the New England Patriots at Wembley on Sunday.
''Hey, it's never a dull moment,'' Barksdale said, looking around at the lush surroundings at the luxury resort the team stayed at this week outside the British capital.
This is no time for the Rams to be tourists, though - and that may be especially true for Barksdale, who was already doing his best to get used to new surroundings even before the London trip.
''All I can do is pretty much roll with the punches,'' he said. ''Study as much as I can, as often as I can, rest when I can. Get ready to perform when I have to.''
He performed quite well last weekend, as Barksdale and guard Shelley Smith - another newcomer who made his first start - helped limit the Packers to three sacks.
''I thought those guys did a great job,'' quarterback Sam Bradford said. ''It's not easy to come in and play against Green Bay, who going into last week was No. 1 in the league in sacks. They got put in on a short notice, but I thought they handled everything extremely well and played at a high level.''
And the whole travel part is just an added bonus for Barksdale. The Rams signed up last year to go to London for the sixth annual regular-season game to be played at Wembley Stadium, and Barksdale is happy to be along for the ride.
''I've always wanted to come to London,'' he said. ''So I was definitely excited when I found out we'd be coming to London. But I'm just thankful for the opportunity, and that football has (allowed) me to be able to go so many places and experience some new things.''
The Rams might be an easy team to fit into these days with all the new faces this season. St. Louis has 14 rookies on the active roster but coach Jeff Fisher - also in his first year with the Rams - has found a way to fit all the new pieces together. The 3-4 Rams have already exceeded their win total from last season, when they were tied for the league's worst record at 2-14.
''We're not opposed to changing this roster on a weekly basis if we get an opportunity,'' Fisher said. ''We did so last week, we made another move by bringing in (guard) Chris Williams, who was released by the Bears. The building process is ongoing.''
Fisher sees the offensive line as one of the keys against the Patriots, knowing his team will need to establish an effective run game to extend their possessions and keep Tom Brady and the explosive New England offense off the field.
According to running back Steven Jackson, Barksdale and Smith are up to the task.
''It's only been one week, but for them to come in and learn the offense relatively fast, they've done a great job,'' Jackson said. ''Both guys are very athletic, pretty sound in what they're doing with their feet and their hands, and they have another tough challenge against this New England defense.''
Barksdale certainly could have asked for an easier opponent as he continues to learn a new system. But he's not about to.
''It's the NFL,'' he said. ''No game is easy.''