The 2013 season got off to a rocky start for Rodger Saffold, the offseason anyway. The St. Louis Rams signed free agent Jake Long, displacing the incumbent left tackle to the right side. During the season, a knee injury sidelined him and opened the door for Joe Barksdale to take over at right tackle. Not long after he returned to the lineup, Saffold was on the move again, to the right guard spot vacated by an injured Harvey Dahl.
"He's been great," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said of Saffold's new position. "I think he likes it in there and we all just want to find a way to win."
The Rams offensive line had one of its best performances of the season in a 38-8 upset of the Colts in Week 10. Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham combined for the lion's share of 140 rushing yards, and Stacy added a touchdown on the ground. Quarterback Kellen Clemens had the best game of his career; it's probably no coincidence that he was only sacked twice and hurried two more times. All of it thanks to the offensive line.
According to the stats at Pro Football Focus, Saffold allowed just one hurry on Clemens and scored a team-best 2.2 as a run blocker. Saffold may have found his best fit on the inside, and the coaches think he's only going to get better.
"You talk about a guy with great hip flexibility, the ability to bend and strike people, " Schottenheimer said. "He's doing really, really well, so very pleased with where he's at. The bye week and this week's been good for him just getting more and more comfortable."
Saffold's offseason disappointment with the position switch, one year before his rookie deal expires, led most to believe that this would be his last season with the Rams. Given his position versatility and the Rams ongoing need for offensive linemen, the front office might have to consider keeping him around beyond 2013.
The problem with that is a league-wide need for offensive linemen. Guys that can play competently on the inside and outside are always in high demand. A team with more cap space (the Rams could be tight against it next year thanks to some of the hefty deals on the roster) could sweep in with a better offer. On the other hand, there's the injury issue. Saffold hasn't played a 16 game season since his rookie year in 2010. While that might drive his price down, it also leaves a team with the potential of several games to find a fill-in for him.