If you listened closely, this weekend you were not able to hear the clank of wrenches and the hum of drills as the Rams rebuilt their defensive line. That's because their was still no movement on that front; as of now Adam Kennedy is still our starting NT.
While anxiety builds over a d-line that was the worst run defense in the NFC, you might take some ease in the state of things on the other side of the ball. With two big new weapons to catch passes and the presence of the incomparable Steven Jackson (Frank Gore who?) the Rams have a chance to be nothing short of spectacular when they have the ball. Playing an indispensable supporting role in the second coming of the Greatest Show on Turf, is the Rams other line, a younger, tougher line opening lanes for Steven Jackson and giving Bulger ample time to connect with his receivers, both new and old. We had a little preview over the last three games of the season. True, that was a trio of teams already thinking about offseason adventures in strip clubs and the draft, but they were able to make wide open lanes for Steven Jackson to average well over
Richie Incognito, just 23, begins the season as the Rams starting right guard with the release of Adam Timmerman. The former Nebraska lineman is a physical presence on the line, and without the responsibility of snapping the ball this season, he can focus exclusively on blocking. After incurring 10 penalties, 7 of them majors, last season, Richie needs to work on finding his inner calm most of all this offseason to keep himself from becoming a liability. If he can keep those emotions in check, he'll be able to push cheating linebackers aside and roll DTs out of the way for Steven Jackson to do what he do.
The return of Orlando Pace, now the eldest member of the starting linemen, will be a welcome event. This will be his 12th season, but at 32, he has some quality time left. Resuming his role at LG will make the Rams passing attack even better.
Brett Romberg finally gets to play center, his natural position, this season, ready to pinch opponents in the ass. Romberg is still a legend at Miami, and looked good finally getting his chance to play last season. Of all the O-linemen, Romberg might have the biggest question mark above his head. A bit on the small side at 293 lbs, the Rams coaches want competition for him this summer, reportedly looking into free agent Al Johnson earlier this month, before he signed with Arizona. Good depth at the center position wouldn't be a bad thing; although, I think Romberg should work out well there based on his college performance and a preview last season.
Mark Setterstrom impressed all in his rookie season, including Linehan, and is a lock for the left guard position.
Fans are pretty mixed on RT Alex Barron after incurring an endless rap sheet of false start penalties. Nevertheless, entering his third season, his athleticism and toughness are impressive enough that we should expect him to start. He's got something to prove this season, and has been in Florida working out and rehabbing his injured knee. A significant round of offseason training could help make this a breakthrough year for Barron.
There's also some depth with Goldberg, Steussie, and McCollum, but I'd expect the Rams to add more somewhere between now and the start of the season.
It's young - average age for the starters is 25 - and loaded with potential, and the spotlight will burn brightly on the O-line blocking for a much upgraded offense will be expected to score lots and lots of points.
Now, about that other line...