With the St. Louis Rams beginning organized team activities this week, there were some questions about how the team would set up their offensive line, seeing as normal left tackle Jake Long is recovering from a torn ACL and unable to participate. There had been some talk that Greg Robinson, taken second overall in this year’s draft from Auburn, could fill the spot. Others believed that Rodger Saffold, who was re-signed to a five-year, $31.7-million dollar deal this offseason with the intention of him playing at guard, should kick back out to his former position until Long was recovered.
We got some answers on Thursday, as the Rams lined up with Sean Hooey, a 2013 undrafted free agent who spent last year on the practice squad, at left tackle with the number one group. Robinson filled the left guard spot, while Saffold was at his newly permanent position of right guard. Last year’s right tackle, Joe Barksdale, returned to his starting position as well.
On the subject of plugging Hooey into the left tackle spot, head coach Jeff Fisher said “we want to go through the OTAs and most of camp with players playing the position they’re gonna play in the opener. You assume Jake comes back, so we’ll just plug somebody else in out there.” Obviously, the Rams have decent confidence that Long is going to be ready come the opener, and they’re not too concerned with creating a detailed contingency plan should his recovery be slowed. There was some speculation with the team’s recent signing of veteran guard Davin Joseph that Robinson or Saffold would be moved out to tackle, but obviously the speculation was just that.
Though the group he practices with in June means virtually nothing in the long run, getting to work with the number ones should be a confidence booster for Hooey. The Rams showed high hopes for the 6-foot-9, 304-pounder by keeping him in the program for the entire 2013 season, and this might mean that he has a serious chance to be a part of the 2014 roster as a backup. He’ll likely battle for a spot with seventh round pick Mitchell Van Dyk, who missed a large chunk of the offseason program because his school, Portland State, was on the quarter system. Though Van Dyk is already heavier than Hooey, it’s easy to envision a scenario where Van Dyk fills Hooey’s 2013 role while the one-year veteran ascends to the active roster.