The Los Angeles Rams’ offense line is hanging on by a thread.
Future Hall of Fame left tackle Andrew Whitworth decided to retire after the team’s victory in Super Bowl LVI. Joseph Noteboom, who had been groomed for years behind Whitworth, stepped into that role but struggled in the early goings of this season.
The Rams re-signed their center and former fourth rounder Brian Allen, but he suffered an injury in Week 1 and is a ways out from making his return. Coleman Shelton, who beat out rookie Logan Bruss for the starting job at RG, shifted inside in Allen’s absence.
But Bruss’ season-ending injury made it more complicated to backfill Shelton’s spot at RG - Tremayne Anchrum earned the next opportunity.
But Anchrum was injured on the first drive of the game in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons. Second-year swing tackle AJ Jackson kicked inside to fill in at RG - and he’s held his own for the better part of the last two games.
The Rams seemed to be building a consistent starting five while they awaited the return of Allen, but the dynamic changed late in the practice week ahead of Monday night’s primetime matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
David Edwards, who has been the team’s starting left guard the last couple of seasons, reported feeling foggy. He initially missed Friday’s practice with what was labeled as an illness - but on Saturday he was ruled out of the Week 4 game with a concussion.
The most likely replacement at LG is fourth-year lineman Bobby Evans, who usually plays outside at tackle. Evans entered the 2021 training camp as the favorite to start at RG, but he quickly fell out of favor with the coaching staff and Austin Corbett shifted back to the right side after an experiment at center. Corbett signed elsewhere during this spring’s free agency period while the team elected to retain Noteboom, Shelton, and Allen.
Los Angeles signed Oday Aboushi several weeks ago, but he’s probably not ready to contribute as a full-time starter. The Rams also have Jeremiah Kolone, whose preseason snaps were 100% at center. Could LA insert Kolone at center and shift Shelton to one of the guard spots? It’s unlikely, but it’s at least an option. If the Rams have to dip into the second string on Monday night, things could get ugly and fast.
Blaine Grisak and JB Scott discuss the injuries on the offensive line and more in this installment of Last Minute Thoughts - which is the series where we break down everything you need to know 24 hours ahead of game time.
How can the Rams slowdown the 49ers pass rush that features one of the premier edge rushers in all of football, Nick Bosa?
Will Bobby Wagner be the key to slowing down San Francisco’s rushing attack in his first game against the divisional foe wearing royal and sol?
Which Rams receiver(s) will step up in this game, and could the injury concerns on the offensive line prevent LA from pushing the ball to its targets down the field?