Uncertainty has been a theme along the St. Louis Rams’ offensive line this season. Players have been moved in and out of the lineup due to injury at nearly every spot in the trenches this season – aside from left tackle.
Until now, that is.
Big money free agent signing Jake Long went down with a leg injury and was carted of the field after just three plays on Sunday. While there has yet to be any confirmation as to what the diagnosis for his injury is, it seems like the worst is on the horizon for a player that has not started every game since 2010. According to head coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams are quite worried about the future of their franchise left tackle as he told ESPN:
“We anticipate the worst for Jake. We’ll confirm [it but] we’re suspecting he has a torn ACL.”
The injury-prone label was attached to Long during the process leading up to his signing in St. Louis this past offseason, but intensive physicals were conducted by the team’s medical staff that apparently checked out to their liking. This injury is totally unrelated to any previous issues Long has had and was a complete freak incident, but it still won’t stop some from attaching that tag to his name.
That’s where the uncertainty comes in again in regards to potential free agent Rodger Saffold. Although he has been kicked inside to guard this season due to the aforementioned litany of injuries the team has sustained up front, Saffold is a left tackle by trade who moved over to the other side when Long joined the team. He could command top dollar on the free agent market as a tackle, but his newfound versatility has plenty of appeal to the Rams. Perhaps current man under center Kellen Clemens said it best when addressing his value to the team as he said:
“Rodger is a great asset for us. To have the ability to go from right guard to left tackle, I don’t know if any of you have ever played offensive line but your footwork is different, your calls are different, he’s a true pro. We are really lucky to have him. He gives us a lot of versatility there on that offensive line.”
A 6-foot-5 332-pound offensive lineman with the ability to move around to wherever needed is a commodity that most NFL teams dream of. The Rams are going to be in dire straits as far as the salary cap is concerned this offseason, but some much-needed trimming of the fat will hopefully open enough space to bring the still just 25-year old back in 2014. Long’s injury only underscores his importance to the team and should open some eyes as far as his true value is concerned when faced with adversity.