Getting to know the Rams new starting center Tim Barnes


In the NFL there are star players, roles players and grinders. You know, the type that seem to be playing for a job year in and year out, but always seem to have enough to stick around in some capacity. Well that was Tim Barnes for the first four years of his NFL career. Now he’s more than that, and the only direction from here is up.

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Head coach Jeff Fisher named Barnes the team’s starting center on Wednesday after the conclusion of practice. The culmination of a nearly six month competition for the starting position was surely going to end in validation for one and possible catastrophe for others. Barnes beat out second-year offensive lineman Demetrius Rhaney and the recently released Barrett Jones.

Barnes entered the league in 2011 after a solid college career at Missouri. He would go undrafted, but signed with the Baltimore Ravens in July of that year. The Ravens released Barnes prior to the start of the regular season and the Rams swooped and signed Barnes to their practice squad, where he would remain for the remainder of the season. St. Louis would keep Barnes around long enough for him to see a promotion to the active roster during the 2012 season.

Nov 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; St. Louis Rams center Tim Barnes (61) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

However, Barnes wouldn’t see his first NFL start until a year later in 2013 when starting center Scott Wells went down with an injury. Barnes started the final four games of the regular season making him the only center in this year’s competition to have NFL starting experience. Unfortunately, Barnes saw a small regression in 2014 acting as a depth option along the line and special teams.

Barnes spoke to the accomplishment Wednesday after practice and was emotional after the announcement.

"“It’s a huge step, obviously, in my career…coming in as an undrafted guy and having to work my way up. It’s huge for me and my family. I’m looking forward to it, I’m excited, I’m happy.” (Nick Wagoner, ESPN)"

Barnes becomes one of three starting offensive lineman in the NFL from Missouri. Justin Britt of the Seattle Seahawks and Mitch Morse of the Kansas City Chiefs also call Missouri their alma mater, a school more well know for their defensive prospects.

A few things helped set Barnes apart from Jones and Rhaney. Offensive line coach Paul Boudreau praised Barnes for his intelligence and level of comfort when calling out plays and making adjustments on the line. His teammates also noted his commitment in the weight room. Fellow offensive lineman Rodger Saffold echoed that praise.

"“He does a good job of knowing what he’s doing, getting better at technique and in the weight room.” Saffold said. “He’s taken so many strides over the past four years.”(FOX Sports)"

From grinder to starter, Barnes has accomplished quite a bit in his four-year career, but there is still plenty more to do. It’s a true underdog story for a player that came into the league as an undrafted free agent during a lockout shortened season in 2011. The St. Louis Rams expect Barnes to anchor a line composed of two more rookies in Jamon Brown and Rob Havenstein, second-year left tackle Greg Robinson and the lone veteran Saffold.