With a mish-mosh of characters in 2012, the St. Louis Rams managed to survive quite well on the offensive line. Even though several of the Week 1 starters missed quite a collection of games from there on out, the team managed to make things function with a patchwork unit that did alright for itself.
Now entering the 2013 season, many believe that the Rams have upgrade their line significantly even though more than 50 percent of their offensive snaps at that area are longer on the roster. Guys like Barry Richardson (16 game starter), Robert Turner (16 game starter), Quinn Ojinnaka (five game starter), and Wayne Hunter (four game starter) have all moved on to greener pastures. That’s a collective 41 games started or in other words 52 percent of the total games started at the five offensive line positions.
So how has the unit upgraded?
Obviously the signing of a big-name like Jake Long does wonders for the perception of any team, but he has suffered with injuries in the past few seasons. His acquisition has allowed Rodger Saffold to move over to the right tackle spot, but he has little to no experience at the position aside from this offseason and his high school days.
On the interior, center Scott Wells was the primary signing last offseason at center, and he is finally healthy after an injury-plagued 2012. Rokevious Watkins (who is suspended for the first game), Chris Williams, and Shelley Smith are among the three guys competing for the left guard spot while Harvey Dahl is penciled in at right guard with rookie Barrett Jones figuring in heavily as a depth component at all three positions.
In other words, the Rams might be green in terms of starts from a year ago, but they have plenty of promise heading into this coming season. What that hopefully means is that quarterback Sam Bradford can avoid starting another consecutive sack streak like the team finally snapped late last season. And the club has to be optimistic that despite losing the leadership in their backfield from Steven Jackson’s departure, the combination of rushers in Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, and Zac Stacy can collectively replace his production on the field.
The line may be a bit green in terms of starts for the club a year ago, but don’t let that cloud your view of their potential. It hurts to lose as many key depth components as the Rams did along the line this offseason, sure, but if the guys up front can stay healthy in 2013, that will quickly become an afterthought.