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Rams’ Jamon Brown returns from suspension as likely backup

September 20, 2018

FILE - In this Dec. 3, 2017, file photo, Los Angeles Rams offensive guard Jamon Brown (68) gets ready for a play during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. Brown is back with the Rams’ offensive line after a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substances of abuse policy. If Brown isn’t in the starting lineup when the Rams host the Chargers on Sunday, Sept. 23, the right guard doesn’t sound overly disappointed about the decision. Brown knows just how well Austin Blythe played in his unfortunate absence. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Jamon Brown might have lost his starting job on the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive line during his two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substances of abuse policy.

If Brown isn’t in the starting lineup when the Rams (2-0) host the Chargers on Sunday, the right guard doesn’t seem overly disappointed by the decision.

Brown saw just how well Austin Blythe played in his unfortunate absence, and he knows he’s got to go back to work.

“I’m going to do whatever is asked of me,” Brown said Wednesday after returning to practice. “Blythe, he played well the first two weeks, and I think that he earned and deserves every right to continue to keep that up. I’ll do what I can as far as still preparing and still practicing how I need to, but right now it’s just doing what Coach has asked me.”

The Rams’ sturdy, durable offensive line was one of the biggest factors in coach Sean McVay’s complete transformation of their offense last season from the NFL’s worst to one of its best. McVay had the same five starters on his line for the first 15 consecutive games, and the entire group returned intact this fall.

Brown was a key contributor on that line, even starting all 16 games while his four fellow starters rested for the regular season finale.

But Brown lost his spot when he was hit with a suspension in July, and he had plenty of time to think about it while he stayed away from the team for the past two weeks.

“Those of you who know me know how much I love this game, how much I love being around the team, around the guys,” Brown said. “So it was hard. But the main thing for me was making sure I stayed in football shape, making sure I keep my mind sharp, and when I was able to be around, be around.”

The Rams welcomed back Brown to the locker room this week, but McVay essentially indicated Monday that Blythe had earned the starting spot for the time being.

“This is a situation where we feel like we have two starting-caliber guards,” McVay said. “As far as how we move forward, it’s not a result of anything Jamon hasn’t done, but the fact that these are decisions that aren’t very clear-cut is because of Austin’s play. He’s played so well. He’s done such a great job.”

Brown has started 30 games over his first three seasons with the Rams, who drafted him out of Louisville in 2015. Blythe is a third-year pro out of Iowa who worked his way onto the Rams’ roster after signing as a free agent last season, playing in all 16 games and showing the versatility to contribute at guard or center.

Blythe received high marks for his first two games of this season — both from outside evaluators and from his coaches, who praise his physical run-blocking and versatility. He is still the Rams’ starting right guard on their new depth chart.

“It really, just bottom line, means I’ve done my job,” Blythe said. “And done it well enough that the coaches have recognized that, and they’re going to let me continue to prove myself, and I’ve got to keep doing that every week.”

NOTES

LB Mark Barron is unlikely to make his season debut against the Chargers, McVay said. The veteran still isn’t ready to return from his Achilles tendon injury, although McVay believes he is making progress. ... K Sam Ficken was back in the locker room to fill in for All-Pro Greg Zuerlein, who could be sidelined four to six weeks with a groin injury. Ficken was with the Rams until the final roster cutdowns, and he didn’t leave the Los Angeles area after getting cut because he figured he would end up signing somewhere. “In this situation here, you’ve got three Pro Bowlers,” Ficken said, referring to the Rams’ other key special teamers, including punter/holder Johnny Hekker and long snapper Jake McQuaide. “So my job is to come in here and do what I can.” ... DL Michael Brockers (shoulder) and C John Sullivan (ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday. ... The Rams added WR KhaDarel Hodge to the active roster from the practice squad. Injuries had reduced the Rams to just four receivers on the roster, along with kick returner JoJo Natson.

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