With the exception of a new starting wide receiver and an opening at guard, the Los Angeles Rams are set to bring back nearly every starter from their 2021 Super Bowl-winning roster. In addition to Joseph Noteboom taking over for Andrew Whitworth and Allen Robinson being the new complement to Cooper Kupp, the Rams must also find a new starting right guard to replace the departed Austin Corbett.
Though L.A. did draft guard Logan Bruss with their first pick in the 2022 draft, it is not common for head coach Sean McVay to start rookies, especially on the offensive line. Noteboom is getting a big promotion to left tackle and is in year five, while Allen didn’t solidify himself as the center until his fourth season.
Bruss would most likely enter a competition featuring fourth-year lineman Bobby Evans and third-year pro Tremayne Anchrum. But did McVay let it slip during his press conference on Friday that fans should start to expect hearing the name “Coleman Shelton” a lot more when training camp begins this week?
Asked to speak on going into the season without Andrew Whitworth for the first time, McVay shouted out five names, four of whom we know are starting. The fifth was Shelton.
“Coleman Shelton has played a lot of really good football for us.”
McVay again talked about Shelton on Sunday after the Rams’ first training camp practice, noting that his experience at center gives the team a great replacement option for Brian Allen, who is not yet at 100-percent. But McVay also noted that he could see Shelton starting “at any of the three interior spots” and that he would get a chance to start in Week 1.
Though Shelton is presumed to be the backup at center, he did start a game at guard in Week 15 against the Vikings, getting 70 snaps in a 30-23 win.
It was only a year ago that most fans were flabbergasted that not only was Brian Allen starting training camp as the starter, he never really entered a competition. It was his job from the beginning and he is now in the first year of a three-year contract. Similarly, Bobby Evans was expected to finally win a job as a starter at right guard in 2021, but almost immediately slipped out of that role.
Shelton was a three-year starter at the University of Washington, starting games at right tackle, left tackle, left guard, right guard, and center over the course of his career. His last two seasons were as the Huskies center and he was first-team All-Pac-12 as a senior, and that’s usually been his role since signing as an undrafted free agent with the Rams in 2018.
That makes this the fifth year for Shelton with McVay and even though 215 of his career 238 snaps came last season, his experience could give him the opportunity to at least open training camp as a starter. By shouting out Shelton on Friday, McVay was clearly trying to send a message that he’s one of the veterans expected to pick up any slack left by Whitworth’s retirement.
McVay also wanted to go out of his way to point out Tutu Atwell and Robert Rochell as two players having a great offseason. Rochell is competing to start opposite of Jalen Ramsey, while Atwell could return punts and inherit some of the snaps now vacated by the absentee status of Odell Beckham, Jr. at wide receiver.