How will LA Rams offensive line depth handle injuries?

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams constructed a 90-player roster to run through the rigors of OTAs and training camp. Since that peak roster number, the Rams have been compelled to deconstruct the roster on pace with 31 other NFL teams. First, the Rams were forced to waive five players to achieve the 85-player limit. A week later, the team was forced to waive five additional players to achieve the 80-player limit. Today, the Rams will be compelled to waive the remaining 27 players to achieve the 53-player limit by the 1:00 pm PT deadline.

This final wave of roster cuts will inevitably mean competent and NFL-caliber players will be released, and subject to the NFL waiver wire. Once players clear waivers, they will be able to re-sign with teams to construct a 16-player practice squad.

While it’s an objective system that affects all 32 NFL teams with equal pain, the annual exercise will impact each team differently. Here is what I mean:

The Rams’ offensive line will feature two new starters this season. At left tackle, the Rams are going with dependable swing tackle Joe Noteboom. At right guard, the Rams are going with dependable interior offensive lineman Coleman Shelton. While that is enough to inject uneasiness into the confidence level of how well the newcomers will perform, that is not where we see the biggest vulnerability this year.

What happens if any of the Rams’ offensive linemen get dinged up?

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That thought first came to me when the Rams cited a minor injury to Coleman Shelton a week ago:

That triggered the injury history of the LA Rams offensive linemen over recent years. While center Brian Allen played well last season, he suffered an injury against the Tennessee Titans that significantly affected his performance. Additional injuries forced the team to hand over the duties to Shelton in three different games

Joseph Noteboom has done a good job subbing in at left tackle in the past. But he also has struggled to stay healthy. In fact, his pivot to left tackle occured when he was injured at left guard, ultimately losing that position to teammate David Edwards.

And a week ago, Shelton reported a lower extremity issue.

The LA Rams have taken great care to construct a roster capable of winning and enduring the normal wear and tear of an NFL season. But since 2019, the Rams roster has seen more than a normal amount of wear and tear. In 2021, part of the Rams’ success is due to the fact that both Joe Noteboom and Coleman Shelton stepped up when an injured teammate was unable to go.

Will the Rams’ backup offensive linemen be able to step up in a similar fashion this year? Hopefully, we won’t need to know that answer. But based on the team’s track record, we will learn the answer sooner than we’d like.

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