Rams vs. Broncos, preseason 2013: Tackle depth to be tested

Daniel Doelling

The Rams might have to start the third-string offensive tackle against the Broncos this week.

The St. Louis Rams will be without backup right tackle Joe Barksdale on Saturday night against the Broncos. Barksdale did not travel with the team this weekend because he has an infected cut on one of his hands, according to a report from USA Today. Fortunately for the Rams, it's not believed to be an MSRA infection, aka Staph.

Barksdale received treatment for the infection on Friday. He is expected to be back in the lineup soon.

Staph infections are always a concern in locker rooms. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dealing with a round of MSRA at the moment. It's sidelined starting guard Carl Nicks for weeks. The Cleveland Browns, of course, were leveled by an outbreak in 2008.

Barksdale was in the midst of an extended audition with the Rams starters. In 25 snaps last week against the Packers, he did not allow a single pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford. He was, unofficially, credited with giving up two quarterback hits in 40 snaps against the Browns the week before that.

The former LSU lineman has been working in place of Rodger Saffold, who dislocated his shoulder on the second play of the Week 1 preseason game. Saffold was back on the practice field this week. He's pushing to play against the Broncos, but no decision has been made. Saffold was adamant about playing because he wants the snaps to continue the learning process for his switch to the right side.

If Barksdale and Saffold are both out, the most likely candidate to replace them this week would be Ty Nsekhe. In 100 preseason snaps, Nsekhe has allowed one sack and two hurries. Another player that could get another look on the right side is Chris Williams. He took snaps at the position last week against the Packers, struggling some against the pass rush.

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