Tough Decisions For The St. Louis Rams Starting Offensive Line: And The Results Are In…


August 12, 2012; Indianapolis, IN USA; St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Barry Richardson (79) watches from the sidelines during the second half of play against the Indianapolis Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeated St. Louis 38-3. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-US PRESSWIRE

Last week, the NFL had to trudge through a week without the St. Louis Rams on the field. Luckily, I think that the league was able to deal with the loss relatively well, with no visible signs of withdrawal from lack of Rams coverage. In all seriousness, St. Louis genuinely needed the bye week to take a break and regroup after two devastating losses to the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers. The extra week gave the coaches time to ponder how to mend the seemingly broken secondary, and allowed the players time to rest and get healthy.

Health has typically been a problem for the Rams, although it is really a problem throughout the NFL. This season, St. Louis has been relatively injury free, with the exception of 4 to 6 players per week (a fairly low number compared to the rest of the league). However, when the injury bug has bitten, it has bitten hard, and in the most vulnerable areas on the roster. The two top positions in question heading into season were likely wide receiver and the left guard, and it just so happens that those were the hardest hit. In case you need a recap:

  • Danny Amendola was lost for the last 4 games, after putting up Pro-Bowl caliber numbers in the opening weeks.
  •  Scott Wells’ injury forces Rob Turner to shift from left guard to center, leaving the spot open for Rok Watkins.
  • Watkins was placed on IR with an ankle injury, forcing the Rams to re-sign, recently cut, Quinn Ojinnaka.
  • “Moose” got released after a mediocre game against the Miami Dolphins, allowed Shelley Smith to jump in and make his first NFL start… which was a blowout loss.

With the bye, St. Louis should expect all of their injured players back, with the exception of Watkins, who is ineligible to return form the IR this season. However, that means that Rodger Saffold, Wayne Hunter, and Scott Wells will have be vying for only one or two starting spots on the offensive line. Before the bye, we asked you, the fans, to vote on how you thought the starting offense line should look. If you did not have the opportunity to vote, our choices were:

  1. Rodger Saffold (LT), Rob Turner (LG), Scott Wells (C), Harvey Dahl (RG), Barry Richardson (RT)
  2. Rodger Saffold (LT), Shelley Smith (LG), Rob Turner (C), Harvey Dahl (RG), Barry Richardson (RT)
  3. Rodger Saffold (LT), Rob Turner (LG), Scott Wells (C), Harvey Dahl (RG), Wayne Hunter (RT)
  4. Wayne Hunter (LT), Rob Turner (LG), Scott Wells (C), Harvey Dahl (RG), Rodger Saffold (RT)

In no situation should Harvey Dahl be moved from the right guard spot on the offensive line, but, aside from him, no player’s spot should be a complete lock for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. The decision was close, but with 38% of votes, the fans have chosen… Rodger Saffold (LT), Rob Turner (LG), Scott Wells (C), Harvey Dahl (RG), Barry Richardson (RT). The decision makes sense, giving Saffold and Wells their jobs back, and move Rob Turner over to left guard, where he started off the season. The other option receiving the most votes had Wayne Hunter pushed back into the line-up. Nearly 30% of fans said they would prefer to see Hunter at the right tackle spot instead of Barry Richardson, a bold move that would likely bode well for the Rams in the future. More intriguing still, 20% of voters suggesting moving Rodger Saffold back to right tackle, and allowing Wayne Hunter to keep the starting job at left tackle. Saffold was originally drafted as a right tackle, in a time where their were still high expectations for the progression of Jason Smith on Bradford’ blind side. Hunter was played well on that side for the Rams this season, even with injury, so the prospect of keeping him in that slot is not out of the question.

Make sure to check out our newest poll on Ramblin’ Fan! Happy Post-Election day everyone…