The LA Rams have gone through more offensive linemen this season than the team had initially assigned to their 53-man roster. While the team began with a starting offensive line of Joe Noteboom, David Edwards, Brian Allen, Coleman Shelton, and Rob Havenstein, injuries so far this season have compelled the Rams to start Bobby Evans as left guard and cameo at right tackle, move Coleman Shelton to center and start Tremayne Anchrum and then Alaric Jackson at right guard, and then after the injury to Coleman Shelton at the center, now to start Jeremiah Kolone as their center for Week 5.
Jeremiah Kolone is another LA Rams player who never heard his name called out at the NFL Draft. Kolone signed on with the Rams after the 2018 NFL Draft as a rookie. Since that signing, he has been a pawn in the Rams’ need to clear a roster spot combined with a need for offensive line depth. This year, he began the season on the practice squad, but with the injury to starting offensive center Brian Allen, he was activated to the 53-man roster to ensure that the Rams had a backup center. With both Brian Allen and Coleman Shelton now injured, the Rams will likely depend on backup center Matt Skura to cover until Allen is cleared to return.
Skura backing up Kolone
Kolone is the Rams’ third offensive center, a role that typically does not face so many injuries over the course of the season, let alone the first four games of the season. Because Kolone was on the practice squad, he hadn’t gotten much work with the starters previously, particularly in getting work snapping the football to starting quarterback Matthew Stafford.
That lack of work showed up in a huge way as the San Francisco 49ers pounced on that vulnerability to ravage the Rams’ pass protection with stunts and blitzes that were designed specifically to overwhelm Kolone’s ability to process and call the proper protections.
Kolone should do a better job this week, and he will need to. The Rams do have veteran offensive center Matt Skura on the roster, but the team is going with a player who was on the roster all season. Skura was signed to the Rams roster on September 21, and is likely still getting acclimated to the coaches, players, and playbook.
Grounding the Rams’ offense
Seeing the success of the 49ers’ defense, the Rams’ next opponent will surely try to replicate that same stress onto the interior of the offensive line. And the Dallas Cowboys already have 15 quarterback sacks to their credit. Not only do they sack the quarterback, but their defense allows an average of just 171.0 yards per game, good enough for the fifth-ranked passing defense in the NFL.
The Cowboys have allowed 137.5 yards per game on the ground, good enough for just the 27th-ranked defense in the NFL. But the Rams have shown absolutely no interest in running the football so far this season.
Week 5 is a great opportunity to run the football. And with their third center starting in just their fifth game of the season, it makes a lot of sense to emphasize a running game to slow down the Cowboys’ effective pass rush. But the LA Rams have had no interest in running with the football so far. That’s a bit disappointing because it appears that a commitment to run with the football could help the Rams’ offensive line get a solid foothold.