There was a point in time during this offseason where the St. Louis Rams weren’t sure what type of drama they would be facing when offensive tackle Rodger Saffold finally arrived at the team’s facilities. The majority of the roster and the entire fan base were thrilled when the club announced the signing of left tackle Jake Long during the peak of the free agency period. Saffold was a member of the minority in this case.
It only stands to reason that if someone is brought in at the same position as you at your vocation of choice you would be a tad upset. The same applies in the NFL where word after the big ticket signing from the Rams is that they were receiving the silent treatment from their now former left tackle. His displeasure was something the team had to have seen coming, but thankfully all is right in St. Louis now.
When asked about the incident, Saffold said:
“This game is a business; that’s just the way it is. I talked to my coach and basically they told me that they had a lot of faith in me to play right tackle and try to use my versatility as an advantage for the team. I went home, back to Cleveland, just to get away from football for a little bit. But I came back ready to work. I’m a hard worker; I’m a loyal guy to my team.”
Although the initial unhappiness with the signing of Long has since worn off, Saffold is still having to deal with the ripple effect of the move. Transitioning to the right side and position that he hasn’t played since he was a freshman in high school has been a bit of a process. The effort has paid off thus far according to Saffold. He said:
“It’s just a matter of getting used to it, the muscle memory, the change in stance. Honestly, it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it was going to be. As far as the smaller details, that’s what I’m constantly working on. It’s just the second day out here, so I just want to continue to work and to learn. I think I got better today than I was yesterday and I intend on getting better again tomorrow.”
That type of attitude from the player who was ready to be traded two months ago is certainly nice to hear for Rams fans. And much of the credit has to go to Head Coach Jeff Fisher for mediating the situation as he does so well. Of Saffold’s progress on the right side, the coach said:
“Football’s football. Responsibilities are the same. He’s just at the point of attack when the ball goes to the right now. He’s done a great job since we switched him over.”
How’s that for a shot in the arm?
Fisher has a way of getting players to buy into a collective goal and playing for one another rather than themselves. With Saffold in a contract year this season, it clearly would have benefited his bank account to remain on the left side for 2013. Just ask Jake Long. But that hasn’t deterred the lineman from doing his job and buying into the ultimate goal of every player going through organized team activities (OTAs); winning the Super Bowl.