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Stuck In The Middle


The St. Louis Rams offensive and defensive lines are both struggling with injuries early in the season. Oddly enough, both units are hurting in the middle of the line more than they are on the outside of each unit. The offensive line has had the depth to deal with the injuries, but losses in the middle of the defensive line are a different matter.

The Rams were well practiced without veteran center Scott Wells. Robert Turner filled in at center through most of spring practices and training camp, developing a nice connection with his linemates and quarterback Sam Bradford. More importantly, the Rams don't seem to lose much push with Turner subbing in for Wells.

(Center Tim Barnes was recalled from the practice squad on Friday to give them a backup for Turner).

Wells' injury and Turner's move left them short handed at left guard. Rookie Rokevious Watkins stepped in, but ankle injury in practice this week has him out for Sunday's game against the Redskins. But the Rams were able to call back Quinn Ojinnaka, who worked with the starters through camp and the preseason at left guard.

Depth has been a strength for the middle part of the Rams offensive line. For the middle part of the defensive line, depth has been an issue without Michael Brockers and Matt Conrath.

Losing Brockers, who is out this week and potentially as much as two more, hurts the most. Brockers' strength versus interior linemen is something to behold, and big part of the reason he was an attractive first-round pick for the Rams.

Want more proof of just how much they missed him? Look no further than the three-man fronts they ran against the Lions last week. Eugene Sims held down the middle, turning in a yeoman effort, but still out of place. Brockers' size and strength would have given them more push, increasing the likelihood of the three pass rushers getting more much needed pressure on Stafford.