While the signing of Jake Long is certainly a huge upgrade to the St. Louis Rams and their offensive line for the upcoming 2013 season, that addition cannot mask a lack of depth elsewhere along the line. Even though the Rams had plenty of problems along their line during last year’s 7-8-1 season, they did have one very shiny bright spot in an unexpected place on that offensive front. Unfortunately for them, that sparkling performance will be happening elsewhere next season.
Robert Turner was a Jack-of-all-trades for the Rams last season. He provided depth all along the offensive line and started all 16 games for a unit decimated by injuries. Seven of his starts came at left guard last year while the other nine came at the center position in place of Scott Wells. By all accounts, Turner was the one constant in a front five that featured plenty of flux throughout the 2012 season.
The Rams had hopes of re-signing him for much needed depth in the trenches, but despite having a competitive offer on the table, Turner decided to sign with the Tennessee Titans. While this signing may not seem like that big of a loss on the surface due to Turner’s lack of notoriety, the Rams know that he will be missed along their line.
Now the depth chart at the interior offensive line positions is left with opening week starter Rokevious Watkins, Shelley Smith who started four games at left guard and two on the right side a year ago, Tim Barnes who was on the active roster for much of the year and has center experience, but never saw the field, and Brandon Washington who was on the practice squad all of last year. Clearly this loss moves guard to the forefront when it comes to the Rams’ list of needs entering April’s NFL Draft. The team must add a player capable of coming in and filling on of the two guard spots immediately in the 2013 season.
The loss of Turner might not get fans up in arms, but it could prove costly if his depth is not properly replaced and the injury bug strikes again. His decision to sign in Tennessee was unexpected given the Titans’ offseason additions thus far on the offensive line, but the Rams have to move on now. Replacing a do-it-all lineman like Turner will be tough, but General Manager Les Snead should be up for the task.