Let's face it. Rodger Saffold is the Danny Amendola of our offensive line. Saffold came off the field during a Week 2 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, and did not return to the game. Backup tackle Joe Barksdale entered the game in place of the injured Saffold, and has continued to play well in his short time with the Rams. Barksdale a 6'5" 326 lb. tackle out of LSU has surprised many with his steady play and looks to be a solid option at right tackle during Saffold's recovery. He will get the start this week as the Rams take on the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas. By no means however, should this former 3rd round pick from the 2011 Draft (selected by the Oakland Raiders) be thought of as a long term solution here in St. Louis should Saffold continue to be bitten with the injury bug. With that being said, Saffold during his tenure here in St. Louis has been no stranger to injury. He has not played in more than 10 games in a season since his rookie season of 2010. Over the last two seasons, Saffold has missed a combined 13 games.
Coming into the 2013, there was much anticipation on how Saffold would adapt to his new position of right tackle. Saffold, who played left tackle during his time at Indiana and during his first three years with the Rams, recently moved to the right side after the Rams signed four-time Pro Bowler Jake Long via free agency. While Saffold was not originally happy with this move, he made the change and appeared to be adjusting well. There was hope that if these two bookends stayed healthy, Sam Bradford with his new weapons would be poised for a breakout year. That hope quickly vanished as Saffold's injury woes quickly came back as he went down in the first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns with a dislocated left shoulder. By the start of the regular season, Saffold looked like he was healthy again and ready to start the final season under his rookie contract. In the Week 1 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, Saffold went down with a left knee injury during the 2nd quarter with backup Barksdale coming in to replace him. Saffold after spending time in the training room came back shortly after the injury and returned to the field with 5:23 remaining in the 2nd quarter, and was able to play the rest of the game. That brings us back to the current injury to Saffold that occurred in the 2nd quarter of the Rams Week 2 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport has reported that Rodger Saffold suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee (the same knee he has already been dealing with MCL issue with), and has opted to avoid surgery. With Saffold out, Barksdale moves into the starters role on the offensive line, and the Rams have signed former Seattle Seahawks tackle Mike Person off waivers to sure up depth at the tackle position. Saffold probably will not miss more than a couple of weeks with this injury, but it begs the question of whether or not the Rams should attempt to bring him back after this year, or let him walk in free agency.
If the Rams do decide to cut ties with the injury plagued tackle, they have a solid option to choose from in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. If the Washington Redskins continue their losing ways, the Rams could have a top five pick, and a real shot at landing a cornerstone right tackle. Let’s take a look at the former right tackle and current left tackle for Texas A&M, Jake Matthews. Matthews comes from solid NFL stock, as his father Bruce Matthews played 19 seasons in the NFL, being selected to 14 Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2007. His father also played for Jeff Fisher from 1994-2001 with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. Matthews looks to be the best OT in this year’s draft class, and with his 6'5" 305 lb. frame, he could become a solid youthful addition to this aging offensive line. He is a strong and physical run blocker, and has the length and strength with his arms to control pass rushers during pass protection. Although he is currently a left tackle, he seems much better suited for the right tackle position, and would transition smoothly there from college to the NFL. I have him currently as the number one OT in this year’s draft based on projected Rams needs at the end of the 2013 season. I believe his stock will continue to rise, and if he is still on the board during the Rams first pick (which again should be early if the Redskins continue to struggle), I think they take him. As always, Go Rams!