Ojinnaka Returns to Rams

Posted Sep 12, 2012

After being released for the second time in as many years by the Rams on Sept. 2, offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka began to think about a career outside of the harsh world of the NFL.

Armed with a degree in Child and Family Psychology from Syracuse, Ojinnaka let his mind wander to what his post-football career could be.

“I don’t know,” Ojinnaka said. “I have my degree, thank God. I love wrestling, maybe I could go into the whole WWE world as Moose Nation.”

Any post-football plans will have to wait for Ojinnaka as he returned to the Rams on Wednesday to help provide insurance to an offensive line ravaged by injury in week one.

Against Detroit, the Rams lost center Scott Wells for up to eight weeks because of a broken foot, tackle Rodger Saffold to a neck injury and guard Rokevious Watkins to an ankle injury. None are expected to play against Washington this weekend and only Saffold participated in any part of practice Wednesday.

So it was that Ojinnaka stepped right back into a familiar role at left guard during the team’s Wednesday practice without missing much of a beat.

“I get to step in and pick up where I left off,” Ojinnaka said. “We’ll see what happens. I am definitely prepared. It’s not like I was off football for a month or whatever. It’s been a week so I am definitely prepared and we’ll see what happens this week.”

The injuries along the line leave Ojinnaka and Shelley Smith as the team’s remaining guards outside of Harvey Dahl. Robert Turner, who started at left guard against the Lions, replaces Wells at center.

Although the line shakeup makes it hard to get continuity, Rams coach Jeff Fisher is pleased that the team was able to bring back a familiar face such as Ojinnaka who won’t have much of a learning curve.

In fact, letting go of Ojinnaka in the first place was a difficult decision after he started all four preseason games at left guard.

“It was not easy,” Fisher said. “But when you are making tough cuts like that when you try to get to 53, that implies that maybe you got a little better. We were just fortunate he was still out there. He comes back, he understands the system and we can plug him right in.”

When the Rams let go of Ojinnaka to make room for tackle Ty Nsekhe and Smith, the big offensive lineman was admittedly surprised.

Considering he’d been the odds-on favorite to win the left guard job all through camp, Ojinnaka was taken aback by the news that he was being released, especially after surviving the initial 48 hours of cuts.

“It’s pretty tough, man,” Ojinnaka said. “When you get cut, not knowing if you are going to play again or where there’s going to be a next team you play for so you go through that little phase in your head do you want to play anymore?

“That always comes in, especially as hard as I worked this offseason and started the whole preseason and you get cut sometimes that messes with whatever confidence you had. It definitely did come across my mind.”

After allowing himself to calm down and think it through to make a rational decision instead of an emotional one, Ojinnaka decided he wanted to continue to pursue football.

With the type of versatility that allows him to play any of the five positions on the offensive line, Ojinnaka figured his phone would ring sooner or later. When the Rams got hit by the aforementioned injuries, it just so happened that sooner came first.

“I was definitely surprised (to be released),” Ojinnaka said. “I think a lot of guys in here were too. I don’t know why they did it but I am just happy they called me back.”

BRADFORD A ‘SKIN?: Before the Rams used the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on quarterback Sam Bradford, there was a period of time where Bradford thought he was going to be a Washington Redskin.

While it’s pointless to speculate on how the two franchises would be different today had Washington moved up to get Bradford, the third-year signal caller said Wednesday that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had made his affinity for Bradford well known in the run up to the draft.

“I actually did because to be honest, I really thought that I was probably going to go to Washington because they had told me that they were going to do almost everything they could to get me,” Bradford said Wednesday. “I knew that they were going to try to make a move to get me. He told me that. So yeah, I guess I kind of did know that.”

Ultimately, the Rams didn’t budge from their position at the top of the draft despite trade overtures from Shanahan and the Redskins.

Little did Bradford know that Shanahan actually played a part in his future again this past offseason when Fisher called his pal to get his opinion on whether he should take the Rams job or the vacancy in Miami.

Shanahan gave Bradford a glowing review to Fisher and the rest is history.
“No, I did not know that, but that’s good to hear,” Bradford said. “It’s good to have someone like that in your corner.”

OVER AND DONE: During Fisher’s post-practice time with the media, one reporter made the mistake of asking a question about the Detroit game.

Before the question was even fully asked, Fisher cut him off and made it clear that nothing from previous weeks is a focus. The time for that is after the game and the Monday news conferences.

It’s the same approach Fisher wants his team to take. 

“Last weekend is erased from my memory,” Fisher said. “Wednesday is a new day, it’s a new start. Regardless of what happened we start over on Wednesday. Actually we start over on Monday afternoon.”

INJURY REPORT: The Rams had some positive news on the injury report Wednesday despite the bad news about Watkins’ ankle.

Saffold, who suffered a neck injury against the Lions, participated on a limited basis. He was joined in that designation by defensive tackle Darell Scott, who is coming off a knee injury.

Defensive tackles Matt Conrath (knee) and Michael Brockers (ankle) joined Watkins as non-participants.

Of note for Washington, receiver Pierre Garcon (foot) and safety Brandon Merriweather (knee) did not participate.