Training camp sunsets as new day dawning on LA Rams offensive line
The LA Rams were willing to put a lot at risk in bringing the offensive line back together for another season. Another season, but hopefully one that will be very different than last season. This was an important training camp for the Rams. Not just to prove that players were healthy once more, but to prove to themselves and to the coaching staff that they could play as a cohesive unit once more. Not just as well as last year, but better. Far better than a year ago.
As the group met once again, their first time all together since 2019, this was a different group. They had been wounded. All five starters suffered some physical injury. We know that four starters missed games. But even the Plymouth Rock of the group, veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth, needed corrective surgery after the season. Even those who came in to replace the starters were, in turn, dinged up.
Fell off the horse
Physical injury and pain heal. But the mental anguish endures. The Rams starting offensive line, for the most part, fell off the horse in 2019. In many ways, that group is only now getting back up on the horse now. How high will they ride in the saddle? Or will they spend this year in fear of falling off the horse again?
Failure is not the end. It is the beginning of the maturation process for an NFL offensive lineman. The best in the NFL today still have plays they “want back”. It’s a suspension bridge career, where each passage of success must eventually be tied to failure. The LA Rams offensive line was certainly tied to failure in 2019. And it is still tied to that failure. No matter how well they do in training camp, the litmus test will be how well they perform in the season. That season is about to start.
The tone of this offensive line has changed. While there are still pockets of laughter and merriment, the players are more somber and determined. This is more than a game to them this year. It’s about their pride. A pride that, much like their bodies, was badly injured last season.
Now, they have regrouped. As a group, they are finding their way back together.
No other group in the NFL has such a difficult road. Offensive line NFL statistics focus on negatives. Sacks surrendered. Tackles for losses. The life in the NFL for offensive linemen is about trying to build a longer suspension bridge. The longer the span between failures, the more spectacular to the eye.
How long will LA Rams offensive linemen go before their next failure? That’s hard to say right now. But we do know this. The offensive line endured a very difficult 2019 season and learned a great deal from it. That’s a pretty good pillar to build from.