THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – After being forced into a starting role midway through his rookie year, perhaps it's not surprising that David Edwards was prepared when tapped as Joe Noteboom's replacement after Noteboom's Week 2 calf injury.
For Edwards, that experience last season has been a big part of why he was in a position to succeed this season.
"I think the stuff that I learned last year is just invaluable," Edwards said during a video conference with reporters Wednesday.
Edwards appeared in all 16 games as a rookie, taking over as a starter in Week 7 after Noteboom sustained a season-ending knee injury against the 49ers. His starting debut went so well, it earned him Pro Football Focus' (PFF) highest grade for any Rams guard to that point.
The Wisconsin product spent two weeks as the team's starting left guard before additional injuries caused further reshuffling along Los Angeles' offensive line and flipped him to right guard.
"Going through left guard and right guard, and then just the offseason, even though we weren't able to meet in person, learning the full offense and how to hit things, I think it was just great," Edwards said.
The Rams traditionally cross-train their young offensive linemen at each spot in the preseason, and during a normal offseason program when on-field workouts are permissible. Though that allowed Edwards to showcase his versatility, it became evident from first two weeks as a starter in 2019 and the last two weeks as a starter where he fit best.
"When we brought him in, he was playing all over the place, but I think he's really settled in," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "I think left guard is his most natural spot. I think he's played outstanding since he stepped into the lineup against Philly. He's really done a great job of continuing to improve from last year."
Edwards credits that growth to Rams run game coordinator and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer as well as veteran offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth.
"The level of mastery that he has in every situation or scenario is just huge for me, because he allows me to play with a quieted mind," Edwards said.
Asked about Edwards on Monday, Whitworth said his performance is a reflection of him seizing his opportunity.
"I think Dave's done a great job," Whitworth said earlier this week. "He's one of those guys that stepped in and played extremely well with his opportunity, and you always want that."
Rams head coach Sean McVay has seen continued improvement in Edwards since last season, and his assessment has been reinforced by external evaluators.
PFF had Edwards with the third-highest pass-blocking grade of any offensive lineman entering Week 4. Entering Week 5, Edwards has the top run block win rate (79 percent) of any offensive guard, according to ESPN.
"He's playing at a really high level," McVay said. "I love David out there at the left guard spot for us."