The right tackle job is settled, but the St. Louis Rams offensive line depth chart is still taking shape. Jeff Fisher and his staff is also still sorting out the picture for a group of players depending on the line, the running backs. The head coach offered some insight into the two position groups on Tuesday afternoon.
On the offensive line, center Scott Wells will take on a few more snaps this week, after making his preseason debut last week. Right guard Harvey Dahl will miss the game thanks to the same viral infection that kept him out last week. Fisher dismissed issues of continuity for the unit with those two out of action.
"It's important," Fisher said when asked about continuity among the front five. "[Dahl and Wells] have a great deal of experience and the time that they have had in there, they've worked well together. You'd like to have them in. Scott's going to play a little bit more. Harvey probably won't play, but Harvey's got plenty of experience right now, so we're OK."
Wells plays an important role in the unit and in the entire offense thanks to his experience. Remember, he used to snap the ball to Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, two decent quarterbacks, before the Rams signed him this spring.
"He understands things, learned the offense very quickly, makes all the calls and makes them correctly all the time," Fisher said. "He anticipates things and he works very closely with the quarterback as he did up there in Green Bay."
The flip side of established players sitting means more reps for younger players vying for a spot on the roster.
"The guys that have stepped in have gotten extremely valuable reps - live reps, game reps - Mattison and Rob and Quinn and even (T Rokevious Wakins) ‘Rock.,'" Fisher said. "Rock's getting a lot of good reps."
Read between the lines here. Fisher has yet to name a starting left guard, and he might not until after Thursday's game. Watkins has quietly put together some pretty good tape through the preseason and camp. With Dahl out, he figures to get some work with the starters himself this week.
A variety of running backs will again get mixed in with the starters. Steven Jackson will get a few carries this week, Fisher said.
"He's going to carry a little bit," Fisher said of Jackson. "You can tell we kind of gave him the week off from last weekend from the standpoint of carrying the ball. But I'd like to get him some reps and get him banged around a little bit and get him ready for Detroit."
Fisher played coy when asked who Jackson's backup would be.
"We have a couple," the coach said. "There's actually three of them.
"It's kind of like the receiver thing. If you carry three running backs into the game on the active roster at the 45 and 46, they should all play in the game and that's the case with our receivers as well."
The head coach left the order on the depth chart cloudy. If you want to read between the lines, seventh-round pick Daryl Richardson might just have a leg up on second-round pick Isaiah Pead, at least when it comes to the offense. Special teams is another matter with Pead looking pretty sharp on returns so far.
"He missed the first part of camp with the hamstring," Fisher said of Richardson. "He worked hard at it, got it back and when he stepped back on the field, he knew what he was doing. He's not making mistakes, he feels good, he's explosive and you just kind of wait for that one that goes to the house."
Pead's struggles in the offense are no secret, but Fisher pointed to his progress in recent weeks.
Unfortunately for him, there's been a couple missed assignments up front or a stunt that we didn't anticipate," Fisher said of Pead's struggles. "He just really hasn't been given an opportunity to hit a crease and show what he can do. The game did slow down a little bit for him after Week 1. I think from a run skill standpoint, all you have to do is look at those two kickoff returns and you'll get a sense of what he can do in the open field."
Watching the tape, part of Pead's problem in "hitting a crease" is his own tendency to look for the perfect opening rather than just running where he is assigned to run. Those plays tend to lead to a loss of yardage.
Pead, Richardson and a host of offensive linemen get one more chance to make their case on Thursday night against the Ravens.
"He's (young players) got to carry over what he's doing on the practice field into the game and show improvement over the last game," Fisher explained. "If there were some mistakes that a young player made in two previous weeks, then we expect them to be eliminated."