Rams going with young offensive line
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Rams rookie Rob Havenstein could not have picked a better spot to start his NFL career.
The offensive tackle from Wisconsin is known for his run blocking, which fits in well with coach Jeff Fisher’s offense.
“That’s one of the things coach Fisher has told me is we’re going to run the ball. . We definitely ran the ball a lot (at Wisconsin) and from everything coach Fisher has told me, I’m going to have an opportunity to do that as well,” Havenstein said.
Havenstein, a second-round pick, is one of several pieces to a new look Rams offense that includes a new quarterback, Nick Foles, and a new feature running back, rookie Todd Gurley. The key to the attack will be a young offensive line: After drafting Gurley in the first round, the Rams, starting with Havenstein, took offensive linemen with four of their next six picks.
The influx was much needed, with the Rams bringing back just two starters in left guard Rodger Saffold and left tackle Greg Robinson. Saffold, entering his sixth season, is the line’s elder statesman.
“It’s definitely something I embrace,” said Saffold, who turned 27 on Saturday. “These young guys, they got the big eyes, the same eyes that I had when I first walked into the building. . These kids are really doing a good job of learning the offense, understanding what we tell them and being accountable for their mistakes.”
Third-round pick Jamon Brown said the rookies have had a lot of information thrown at them during OTAs. The Louisville tackle said the rookies feel no extra pressure to step into one of the three open spots on the line.
“All we can do is try to get better every day,” Brown said. “Obviously, we can’t see in the future of who’s going to be where, so the biggest thing is for us to grasp the system and the offense and just try to get better every day, and we’ll see where that takes us.”
The Rams are looking for an improved running game after finishing 20th last season, averaging 102.2 yards a game. St. Louis has finished no better than 19th in rushing during Fisher’s tenure.
St. Louis also was 27th in third-down efficiency on 2014, in large part due to a lack of a running attack on first and second downs.
“We want to eliminate as many negative plays as possible. That means no tackles behind the line of scrimmage on run plays, no sacks, no penalties,” Saffold said. “In order to do that, we need to be extremely firm in pass protection and push people off in the running game.”
Foles likes what he sees from the rookie linemen.
“They’re doing a great job right now learning, getting reps and they’re going against a pretty darn good defensive front,” Foles said. “So, they’re getting better and better each day, just like all of us.”
The addition of Gurley to the backfield should help once Gurley fully recovers from an ACL tear that ended his career at Georgia. Gurley joins Tre Mason, who rushed for 765 yards in 12 games as a rookie.
“If that doesn’t fire you up, you might be dead inside,” Havenstein said. “They’re excellent backs, they’re great backs, they’re some of the best. I know if I get the opportunity to block for them, hopefully it’s going to make me look a little better, because of the level they’re at.”
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