Bonsignore: Right side of Rams’ offensive line under a microscope Saturday against Raiders
OAKLAND – The Rams will push their starters into the second quarter Saturday against the Oakland Raiders. It’s the typical plan of attack the second week of the preseason, with NFL coaches extending clock time for starters as they chart their flight plan toward the regular season.
The primary objective is creating a smooth landing for the regular-season opener, as players prepare both their bodies and minds for the grueling 16-game schedule.
But there are underlying objectives that go along with preparation. Even for starters who will give way in the second quarter to backups looking to solidify jobs or simply survive to see another couple of weeks.
Which brings us to the right side of the Rams’ offensive line.
It’s two players in count – they would be guard Jamon Brown and tackle Rob Havenstein – but in overall impact they seem so much larger in the grand scheme of things.
The left side of the line was essentially locked down with the signing of All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth. His presence meant Rodger Saffold could return to his more natural left guard position full time. And with the addition of veteran center John Sullivan, it meant the Rams offensive line from center to left tackle was set.
The right side was another story, with the Rams first experimenting with moving right tackle Rob Havenstein to right guard and guard Jamon Brown to right tackle.
Those changes happened in OTAs. But they lasted all of one week in training camp, at which point Havenstein returned to tackle and Brown went back to guard.
Havenstein seems to have settled right back in in his new “old” position. He looks natural and comfortable and while not overly dominant, certainly capable and reliable.
Brown, maybe not so much.
He wasn’t particularly sharp against the Dallas Cowboys in Saturday’s preseason opener, and while it was an extraordinarily short stint of action it was noticeable.
.And it sent the Rams into this week in major evaluation mode.
By Thursday, the right side of the offensive line still seemed a work in progress – as in changes could still happen – but Rams coach Sean McVay held hope the unit can solidify itself.
“I think really everybody is a constant work in progress, because we always strive for that improvement,” McVay said. “I think with our line as a whole, just continuing to get those guys to feel comfortable. That continuity that we talk about, that’s so important. But, with the right side of the line, I feel good about Rob Havenstein at right tackle and Jamon Brown at right guard and that’s what we’re going to be right now and that’s what we anticipate moving forward.
“I think those guys getting comfortable at those spots is the most important thing leading into (the regular-season opener) and that’s the lineup that we’ve got right now. I think they’ve done a good job kind of having played tackle and guard and then going back to it, it’s been good for us to evaluate and see that these are probably their most natural spots and that’s important for us as coaches to put these guys in the best situations for them to have success.”
The entire line faces a huge test Saturday night against a fierce Raiders defense.
But Brown, in particular, is under a microscope.
If he handles the challenge, the Rams will breathe a little easier.
“It’s big,” McVay said. “I think that experience, especially for younger players at any position, is extremely beneficial and that’s something that we don’t take lightly. We know we’re going to get an opportunity to go against a great front and great defense in the Oakland Raiders. They’ve got some premiere players on that side of the football that will pose a great challenge and it’s going to be a great evaluation tool for us.”
So while your eyes will naturally follow Jared Goff and Sammy Watkins and all the Rams offensive skill position players.
Keep an eye on the right side of the Rams offensive line against the Raiders.
It’s pretty important.
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