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Countdown to Camp 2016 - Offensive Line

Posted Jul 26, 2016

With four days to go before training camp, team insider Myles Simmons breaks down one of the Rams' most stable position groups -- offensive line.

Rams training camp at UC Irvine is only four days away. We continue our Countdown to Camp series today with a breakdown of Los Angeles’ offensive line. Be sure to submit your question about tomorrow’s position group, defensive line, either on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Newcomers: Pace Murphy, Jordan Swindle

Los Angeles’ offensive line is one of its most stable position groups heading into the 2016 season. With the infusion of rookie talent last year, the Rams’ OL has a chance to continue to grow and develop together.

Despite numerous injuries across the group, the Rams surrendered the league’s fewest sacks (18). The team started six different combinations of offensive linemen in 2015. While that was tough in the short term, over the long term it has undoubtedly aided the group’s depth.

Greg Robinson, Rodger Saffold, Tim Barnes, Jamon Brown, Rob Havenstein, Garrett Reynolds, Cody Wichmann, Andrew Donnal, and Demetrius Rhaney all started games for the Rams last season. Darrell Williams also subbed in during a few games before going on injured reserve with a dislocated wrist.

Robinson had his struggles during the first half of the season, but once the line got stabilized, he improved as well. This is the first year the left tackle has truly had an NFL offseason just to work on his craft, as he was recovering from offseason foot surgery between his rookie and sophomore campaigns.

Saffold finished 2016 on injured reserve after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. One of the longest-tenured Rams, he should be healthy heading into his seventh year with the franchise.

While many rotated around him, Barnes held down the center position for all 16 games in 2015 — an important piece of stability — after winning it in training camp. He re-signed with Los Angeles on a two-year deal in March.

Brown could re-claim his spot at right guard with a strong training camp. He also fell victim to season-ending injury, suffering a lower-leg fracture against Chicago in November.

His 2015 rookie classmate on the right side, Rob Havenstein, started 13 games — missing three due to injury. He’s a player who can be a pillar of stability at right tackle for years to come.

While those five could be the first group up during training camp, Reynolds and Wichmann in particular could all challenge for roles. A grizzled veteran, Reynolds has the flexibility to play guard and tackle. He was effectively the “sixth man” on the OL last year. Having started the last seven games of last year, Wichmann may have a chance to continue as a starter if he has a good camp.

Williams made the team as an undrafted free agent out of USF and contributed on special teams before suffering his dislocated wrist while subbing in on offense against Chicago. Donnal played well in his spot starts, but suffered a knee injury that kept him on the sidelines for the last few weeks of the season.

Last year’s supplemental draft pick Isaiah Battle spent much of the season on the practice squad before being promoted to the active roster in November. He received a lot of reps during OTAs, which should give him a solid foundation heading into training camp.

The club added Brian Folkerts and Eric Kush during the 2015 season to help gain some depth given the numerous injuries. David Arkin was also signed to the Rams’ practice squad last season.

Los Angeles brought in two undrafted free agents, Pace Murphy (Northwestern State) and Jordan Swindle (Kentucky) to compete for roster spots as well.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

If there’s anyone who might take a significant step forward to be a contributor, I think it might be Battle.

Coming in as a supplemental draft pick is difficult for anyone, mainly because there’s the inherent disadvantage of not being part of the offseason program. That’s part of why Battle was so raw not just at his first training camp, but through a significant part of the season.

Now, Battle has gone through an entire regular season, and an entire NFL offseason. As mentioned earlier in the post, he also received a significant number of reps during OTAs, which should certainly help him going forward.

That said, the Rams offensive line has a few road blocks in front of Battle as a starter. But in the sense that all offensive lines need to have depth, Battle could be a good piece to fill in if called upon due to injury.

I like to say offensive linemen are like starting pitchers in MLB — you can never have enough. If given an opportunity, Battle has the potential to succeed.

Thanks for your question, David. If you have a question about our next position group, defensive linemen, send it along via Twitter, Facebook, or leave it in the comments below.

PREVIOUSLY ON COUNTDOWN TO CAMP

July 20 - Special Teams
July 21 - Linebackers
July 22 - Wide Receivers
July 23 - Cornerbacks
July 24 - Tight Ends
July 25 - Safeties