Fisher on offensive line: “These guys are going to be good”


The St. Louis Rams largest point of contention heading into training camp this year has been the offensive line. After returning only two starters from last year, the Rams opted to go all-in on their rookie crop and selected five players at various positions across the line in the NFL draft and supplemental draft.

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Left tackle, Greg Robinson, and left guard Rodger Saffold are both returning to their starting roles in 2015. Both are coming off surgeries in the offseason. Robinson is entering his second year after an up-and-down rookie campaign, and Saffold holds the most experience along the line heading into his sixth season.

However, that leaves the right side of the line and the center position up in the air. Many analysts expect rookies Jamon Brown and Rob Havenstein to fill both positions on the right side with Brown at guard and Havenstein at tackle. Of the five new offensive linemen drafted by St. Louis this offseason, Brown and Havenstein hold the most potential.

Aug 1, 2015; Earth City, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Rob Havenstein (79) walks on to the field at Rams Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to Brown and Havenstein, the Rams selected Andrew Donnal and Cody Wichmann during the NFL draft and followed that up with the surprising selection of Isaiah Battle in the supplemental draft. After selecting Battle in the fifth round of the supplemental draft, St. Louis will forfeit their fifth round NFL draft pick in 2016. Battle is believed to be a non-factor this year and should have a chance at a more impactful role in 2016.

The competition for the center position isn’t so cut and dry. Tim Barnes, Demetrius Rhaney and Barrett Jones will all have a chance at the starting role. Of the three, only Barnes has experience as a starting NFL lineman, and that is limited to just four games. All three participated with the first team in OTAs and will continue to rotate snaps throughout camp and the preseason. This competition is still very much up in the air.

Head coach Jeff Fisher had many good things to say about the offensive line.

"“Just in talking with the defensive linemen, obviously we have a veteran group of defensive linemen, they’re saying, ‘These guys are going to be good,’” Fisher said. “Coming from Chris and Will and those guys, that’s pretty impressive.”(Nick Wagoner, ESPN)"

Fisher also commented on his feelings about starting a rookie on the offensive line once the season roles around.

"“I think the young guys have done a really good job,” Fisher said. “And I have no reservation whatsoever when we line up for the opener, playing a rookie offensive lineman. They’re going to get plenty of reps and they’re the best that we’ll put on the field in confidence.”(Wagoner, ESPN)"

The team will put pads on for the first time in camp this week, so we should begin to see some exciting progress in this area. After ignoring the offensive line for years, the Rams addressed it in a big way this offseason with a large crop of young players. We will need to wait and see how the decision to go with a large rookie crop pans out, but the opportunity to add a veteran lineman still exists.

Fisher recognized the need to bring in young linemen to begin building back up the core of the group.

"“We’ve been talking since we got here about, ‘Gosh, how nice would it be to be able to go out and draft three or four offensive linemen in the same draft?’ This year we were able to do that, and five with Isaiah [Battle]. It’s an area that we had to focus on. It’s an area that we expect to be good for a long time. I can’t tell you how it’s going to unfold right now or who is going to end up starting. But like we said yesterday, we have no concern about starting young people up front.”(Wagoner, ESPN)"