Rams reconstructed offensive line effective in opener
ST. LOUIS (AP) The St. Louis Rams’ decision to go with two rookies on the offensive line may just work out.
Quarterback Nick Foles took his share of hits in the opening victory over Seattle, but was sacked just twice. And he wasn’t on the run all day.
”Stronger dudes, bigger dudes,” tackle Rob Havenstein said. ”I guess that’s why we’re here. We’re pretty big and strong ourselves.”
Havenstein and guard Jamon Brown, second- and third-round picks, went wire to wire in their NFL debuts. Coach Jeff Fisher said they finished as strong as they started.
”Both of our young offensive linemen lined up and played pretty well,” Fisher said. ”From a protection standpoint we were good, they were sound.”
Next up is a visit to Washington (0-1) this Sunday.
Brown missed seven plays against Seattle, but only because of a bent facemask that made it impossible to wear his helmet.
New center Tim Barnes did well, too, containing Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane for the most part. It was the fifth career start for Barnes, who was undrafted out of Missouri. Havenstein, from Wisconsin, and Brown, from Louisville, both came to the NFL with the advantage of having played in a pro offense in college. Brown said it helped ”tremendously.”
”Obviously it’s more complex here but it was able to give me an easy switch,” Brown said. ”It was very helpful, very helpful.”
They began the preseason playing side by side at right tackle and right guard but for the final tuneup Havenstein was switched to the left side with veteran Rodger Saffold moved to right guard. Both players know there’s plenty of room for improvement.
”Me personally, I think it was a good start,” Havenstein said. ”It’s a whole season so you can’t be too high, can’t be too low.”
Fisher said the shuffling had nothing to do with surrounding the kids with more experienced players. But separating the kids made it tougher for the Seahawks to attack one area.
”We didn’t get as much pressures or blitzes or games,” Brown said. They really didn’t do that and it’s their loss, not ours.”
Penalties were well down overall, with four calls for 30 yards. Brown had a false start on the first possession.
Last year, the Rams were among the most-penalized teams in the NFL.
The Rams weren’t forced into an unbalanced attack, even without running backs Todd Gurley and Tre Mason. They averaged 2.9 yards per carry, but versatile backup Benny Cunningham had good production overall with 45 yards rushing and 77 yards receiving.
”I think we played a lot cleaner than we did in the preseason,” Brown said. ”Once we were able to settle down, I think we looked pretty good.”
Fisher noted there were no dropped passes, a key statistic against the two-time defending NFC champions and one of the top defenses in the NFL.
”I think it was a great plan. We were able to stay with the run throughout,” Fisher said.
In the offseason, the Rams released veteran tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells, both of whom had been dogged by injuries. Then they re-stocked in the draft.
”We felt like it was going to be a good year,” Fisher said. ”Obviously, it has paid off for us so far.”
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