Rookie OLs Acclimating to League

Posted Sep 24, 2015

Through two games, the reviews have been positive for both rookies on the offensive line, RT Rob Havenstein and LG Jamon Brown.

As expected since OTAs, the Rams have started two rookies on their offensive line to commence the season. And through two games, the reviews on both Rob Havenstein and Jamon Brown have been positive.

“I’ve said it every time here, I think they’re doing a good job,” offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti said Wednesday, crediting offensive line coach Paul T. Boudreau. “They’re doing a great job preparing. They come out here and practice very well, and you can see in the first two weeks that there’s progress being made.”

With Havenstein at right tackle and Brown at left guard, fellow offensive lineman Rodger Saffold has also noticed the rookies do well, and said he thinks they will continue to improve over the course of the year.

“This is an experience game -- for offensive linemen experience is what you learn most from,” Saffold said. “If we can stay away from injuries and keep them in those same positions, I think they'll continue to get better through the entire season.”

Both Havenstein and Brown are learning well and getting comfortable on the field. Brown said gaining experience has been invaluable for that comfort level. But it’s still not easy to make the adjustment from college to the pros, especially when your college career was filled with success.

“They call it the professional level for a reason,” Havenstein said. “Guys are the best at their college teams, and obviously this is the best in the world. So it’s kind of something you’ve got to get used to.”

The right tackle said some of the veterans have been preaching the importance of having a short memory and staying even keel on the field. It’s a matter of understanding that while players always strive for perfection, the reality is perfection is often impossible.

“You’re going to win some and lose some as a team, and as an individual player,” Havenstein said. “But my biggest thing is to minimize those losses, and when I do feel like I lose a rep, make sure it doesn’t end up in a negative response -- like a sack or a hold or something like that. It could be just a ‘non-pretty win,’ for lack of a better term.”

It has been tough sledding for the Rams’ offense when it comes to the rushing attack so far. St. Louis has gained an average of just 71.5 yards per game on the ground through the first two contests, and that’s a priority to correct this week. Havenstein said one of the keys is to give the running backs options, and not pre-determine where they should go with certain blocks.

“If we give them options, most of the time they’re going to choose the right option,” Havenstein said. “It’s not my job to run the ball, and I’m thankful for that -- I wouldn’t do very well. But all we can do is stay on our guys, stay on our landmarks. Where the running backs think we’re supposed to be, we need to be there instead of kind of lagging behind, or being a little too far ahead.”

That’s one of the factors the entire offensive line can take from last week’s contest against Washington.

“We just have to learn from it, move forward, and try to get better, and try to prevent it from happening again,” Brown said of last week’s performance. “We’re just going to use that as a building block, and a learning experience to move forward.”

As the unit does so, the comprising individuals will continue to jell.

“Seattle was the first time we lined up together -- that group,” Brown said. “And for having two weeks, being together full time, I think we’re doing pretty good. I think we’re headed in the right direction. It’s just a daily process, constant grind for us to make sure we’re doing everything individually, so that way when we come together as a group, we’re on the same page.”

Sunday’s contest will present a significant challenge in the Steelers. As all teams are in the AFC North, Pittsburgh is known for playing a physical brand of defense.

“I think just kind of back when I was watching pro football as a young guy, they’ve always been known for having a great defense. And I don’t think anything’s changed,” Havenstein said. “They’re big and strong and physical up front. It’s going to come down to our techniques and playing well fundamentally to go ahead and have success against these guys.”

“A lot of things that we notice is we made too many mistakes ourselves,” Brown said. “It’s not necessarily what the defense is doing, it’s what we’re doing. So that’s big -- respecting them as a defense, but at the same time, playing Rams offense.”

And for this week’s game, the team will have the lift of playing at the Edward Jones Dome, an advantage players do notice.

“It’s going to be great. You always love to come home, and the biggest thing is you’ve got to protect home,” Brown said. “So we’re looking forward to having a fun game, and having the crowd out and the fans making it chaos and crazy for the Steelers.”