The St. Louis Rams are counting on a big year from quarterback Sam Bradford. Consequently, Bradford is counting on a big year from his offensive line after being sacked an average of 2.7 times per game and being hit on countless more snaps.
Bradford discussed his protectors with after Thursday's practice.
Among the question marks heading into this week's game against Dallas is the return of Scott Wells, who missed all of training camp until this week. How will he gel with his linemates and with Bradford?
"It's good. Obviously, we're still working through some things. I've spent a lot more time with Rob than I have with Scott but in OTAs, I worked with Scott quite a bit so I feel very comfortable with him. I think it's just getting on the same page as far as making the right calls just because with him missing the first two, three weeks of camp, it's just a lot of reps that he wasn't out there. I think we'll just continue to work that and things should be fine."
He's talking about Robert Turner, who has done a great job filling in for Wells through the first half of the preseason. Obviously, the Rams did not pay Wells $24 million to sit, but at least they have a dependable backup, which is nice to know considering Wells' knee issues have dragged on longer than the coaches said they would.
Pass protection was solid last week against the Chiefs, and Bradford seemed to know what was going on around him. He may be the one bringing Wells up to speed in the offense. Keep an eye on whether or not Wells looks rusty this week against Dallas' 3-4 defense.
Harvey Dahl has become the heart and soul of the Rams offensive line, embodying the character traits missing from the group for so long. He does have a long history with coach Paul Boudreau that no doubt helps matters. Brian Schottenheimer raved about Dahl earlier this week, and Bradford picked up where the OC left off:
"It's obviously extremely nice. You'd like to have the same five guys out there at all times and have them for 10 or 15 years, but that's probably not possible. But it's always nice knowing Harvey's out there. He's a great player. I love his attitude: he's tough, he's mean, he'll get in someone's face. I think it rubs off on everyone else on the line, too, so having him out there is a definite bonus for our offense."
That's exactly what the Rams brought in Dahl to do last season. It didn't work, which had more to do with the team culture than Dahl's effort. Things are different now, and Dahl reflects the overall personality of the offense, or vice versa.
"I think that's something that will kind of come as the season begins and as we go through the season, but I think it's going to be a tough minded, pound-the-ball-at-you offense. We're going to take our shots when they're there and when we have the opportunity. I think our goal is after we play a game, we want the defense that we just played to think or know that they just played a team that was extremely tough and was in their face all game."
The Rams have lived up to that through two preseason games, with much better results to show for it last week against the Chiefs. Whether or not it will be enough to show up in the win column this season is up for some debate, but it will get the team much closer to that goal.