At this point, it's hard to say what to watch for when the St. Louis Rams take on the Seahawks in their week one tilt. We have recent history, four preseason games and a month-plus worth of practice shaping our image of what the Rams look like and what they need to do to beat Seattle and have a good season.
Yesterday, 3k broke down the unit matchups for week 1, and today, I'm going to take a look at some of the more interesting individual matchups for this game.
LT Alex Barron vs. DE Patrick Kerney
For all the talk about rookie Jason Smith lately, you could be forgiven if you forgot that Alex Barron was now the Rams starting left tackle. Barron has way more riding on this season than Smith, with free agency (restricted) free agency approaching. Starting on the right side miscast Barron because of his agility and athleticism, so the story goes. The left side, his natural position from college, fit him better because of his pass blocking ability. Barron started at LT in place of Orlando Pace in 2007, and fared decent enough to merit a more permanent move to the left side. So, here he is, and this week he'll have his work cut out for him when he faces Seattle's best defender DE Patrick Kerney, himself recently migrated from left to right.
Reports from those in the know in Seahawks country say that Kerney's move will allow him to use his talents against the run and still be a pass rusher. Kerney is high-motor guy, not among the league's elite, natural pass rushers, but a guy who makes up for that anyway. He is what we want Chris Long to become...preferably sooner rather than later.
Barron has faced some of the best pass rushers in the league on the right side. In that role he held his own well enough to still be starting. This week he has two jobs: keep Kerney out of the backfield, and by proxy keep Bulger on his feet, not his back. The run will also be important on Barron's side of the field, as Seattle will make running in the middle harder with better DTs and Tatupu behind them.