INGLEWOOD, Calif. – There's no telling when a reserve will be called into action, and it had been awhile for Rams second-string center Coleman Shelton, who said he hadn't seen this much playing time since facing the Steelers in Week 10 two years ago.
Fortunately, Shelton was prepared.
After starting center Brian Allen went down with a knee injury on the Rams' first offensive play of the game, Shelton stepped up capably in the Rams' 37-7 win over the Jaguars on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
"Coleman Shelton stepped in and did an outstanding job," McVay said.
Allen's bounceback 2021 season had been a pivotal part of the success of the Rams offensive line as a whole this season, so replacing him – especially in a sudden-change situation, would not be easy. Allen also entered Week 13 with a 70 percent run block win rate, according to ESPN, which ranked 10th among all centers in the NFL.
However, Shelton was well-regarded as a run-blocker coming out of Washington, which likely helped the Rams offensive line not miss a beat as it helped pave the way for Sony Michel's 24 carries for 121 yards and one touchdown on Sunday. Michel became the Rams' first 100-yard rusher on the season.
"Just always got to be ready," Shelton said. "That's part of the role backup just got to be on your game for the whole weekend, everybody to go out there. And that was fun, it's fun to be able to get those reps. Go out there and play ball. You know, it's always a good feeling."
Shelton's performance Sunday also reflected his consistent practice habits his teammates regularly see.
"Coleman obviously is a guy that I don't think many of us have to say anything to," Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said. "Just because practicing with him and over the last couple of years we've been together, man, his even-keelness, just his ability to stay in the moment and play and communicate – anytime he's had to do that in practice coming or something, in for one of the starters, it just, it's amazing. He's really good at that. And that's probably one of his best traits is that the game's not that fast to him. He just plays. So it was really good to see him get that opportunity and take advantage of it."
For Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, there was just one minor adjustment when Shelton replaced Allen, otherwise the transition was seamless.
Well, one guy snaps it righty, the other guy snaps it lefty. That's different. No, I can't say enough about (OL) Coleman (Shelton). That was a heck of an effort. This game is funny. You feel like you're going into a game, you know the plan, here we go, here we go, then all of a sudden, drive one, he's down, drive two, (OL) David Edwards was down and able to come back in and play. But I thought Coleman did a great job. Great job commanding. And that just goes to his preparation as a player.
When Shelton entered the game, he saw right guard Austin Corbett, who offered some reassuring advice.
"He's like, 'Just take a breath, man,'" Shelton said. "'We got one play at a time.'"
Shelton was already confident, though.
"I smiled at him like, I'll be alright," Shelton said.