In the season opener, the Rams started a priority free agent signing at center and the 33rd overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft starting at left tackle.
What a difference a week makes.
With center Scott Wells on injured reserve and left tackle Rodger Saffold limited at practice, the Rams may be without two-fifths of their opening day starting offensive line. And with guard Rokevious Watkins, who saw a lot of time against the Lions, missing practice due to an ankle injury, the Rams’ offensive line is suddenly being held together by scotch tape.
“We’ll have five up there,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday. “We’ll kickoff, we’ll have five that we’ve coached up, so they’ll be ready.”
What five remains to be seen. It is speculated that right tackle Barry Richardson would slide over to take Saffold’s spot on the left side. Newly acquired Wayne Hunter would then fill in at right tackle. It’s likely that Robert Turner, who plays both guard and center, will take over for Wells. And if Watkins is unable to go, Quinn Ojinnaka, who was cut by the Rams just a few weeks ago, may start at left guard just days after rejoining the team.
It’s just another day at the office for the veteran Turner.
“That’s what guys up front are called to do,” Turner said. “And I’m not the only guy that does it. We have guys that move around. There are other guys in the league that have done it for years. It helps having a good group of guys that work together. It makes the transition easier. It makes it easier on everybody.”
The Rams faced similar problems in 2011. Saffold was injured in week 10 and missed the rest of the regular season with a torn pectoral muscle. Tackle Jason Smith only started six games due to concussion symptoms. That led to a line that never fully came together and often resulted in quarterback Sam Bradford on the turf.
Turner said nobody in the Rams locker room is panicking over the early misfortune.
“You have that every year with every team,” Turner said. “There’s always going to be injuries, there’s always going to be guys that have to move and adjust.”
Ojinnaka, after being cut a few weeks ago, thought about giving up football altogether before the Rams called him back. The veteran was upset about the release after it caught him by surprise. Before being cut, Ojinnaka had started all four of the Rams’ preseason games. Instead of giving up the game, he now may end up playing a large role in the success of this year’s Rams team.
“I picked up where I left off, so we’ll see what happens,” Ojinnaka said.
Everyone else is curious to see what happens, too.