In many ways, 2018 was a different kind of offseason for the Rams.
For the first time in two years, there was no upheaval to deal with — whether from relocation or a coaching change. It amounted to a “normal” offseason for the club, with the focus being on mastering systems that had been installed in 2017.
But for one player on the roster in particular, the experience was much different than any other time in their careers. Left guard Rodger Saffold is now the longest tenured Ram, having been with the club since he was drafted in the second round back in 2010.
And he experienced a winning season in 2017 for the first time.
“It does feel different,” Saffold said during the offseason program. “This year you just have a lot more enthusiasm about the year. I think that everybody is really excited about what we have and just knows that it’s something special.
“It’s kind of crazy because a lot of people don’t even know about being NFC West Champions — it’s their first time coming over here,” Saffold added. “I like that we’re kinda starting from scratch once again. We’re still a super humble team and I think that the culture hasn’t changed a bit from last year. With so many new pieces, that’s one of your worries. I like the direction that the team is going and I’m just excited about the season.”
During the offseason program, Saffold said he has thought about the fact that he’s been around this particular locker room longer than anyone else. That’s especially because of the personnel turnover that occurred from 2017 to 2018.
“The main way it speaks to me is the locker room has changed quite a bit once again for me, which ultimately lets me know that I know a lot more players,” Saffold said. “It’s definitely an adjustment, but you know every time I come in here I feel like we’re getting closer and closer with the new guys that we have. It makes you feel good about the future. This roster is unbelievable.”
Still, Saffold said it can be tough to see longtime teammates depart — like Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree, and Tavon Austin.
“You’ve got to handle it — you can’t make it personal, you have to treat it like a business,” Saffold said. “The best way to kind of support those guys is to let them know that we got them, we’re going to look out for them. Everybody’s family knows each other’s family, so we have really tight relationships with a bunch of people that leave. But as long as you support them in their future endeavors, I think that you can continue to have that bond with them throughout years to come.”
Nevertheless, Saffold can feel that the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl is more attainable than it may have been in years past.
“Absolutely — but like everything, sometimes you have to start from the bottom and, unfortunately, I know what the bottom looks like quite well,” Saffold said. “Now it’s time to start scratching to the top and we don’t know how many years we’ve got left. We got some old heads on the team now, so now it’s time to put it all together and give them something to remember.”