After the first week of preseason, candidates for the Los Angeles Rams offensive line unit are beginning to separate themselves. The starters are locked in and won’t see any game time, leaving at least four openings to battled for by nine prospects.
New Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen wants to marry a strong running game with LA’s high-octane passing offense. His background/philosophy is to mix in tight and mid zone running concepts with the outside zone schemes that Sean McVay’s offense is known for. In last week’s win over the LA Chargers, the Rams ran predominantly between the tackles.
In that Chargers game, the Rams blocking schemes were very simple. The Bolts took full advantage and really charged the gaps with linebackers and safeties. This made for hard sledding by the running backs. In a normal situation, the Rams would have kept them honest with play action throws over the sucked in defenders. Since McVay likes to keep his offensive cards close to his vest, during the preseason there is no reason to expect any exotic flavor to the run game — just simple vanilla.
If Coen was actually brought in to influence the offense, expect some new twists. Some pin and pull blocking off tackle, tight and mid zone off the center and guards, and more sets with the quarterback under center. The pressure of absorbing these concepts will fall directly on the offensive line. Here’s a review of how the unit is shaping up.
Locked in and loaded up
- Left tackle Joseph Noteboom
- Left Guard David Edwards
- Center Brian Allen
- Right guard Coleman Shelton
- Right tackle Rob Havenstein
Re-shaping the roster battle after the Chargers game
Riding the wave
Tremayne Anchrum (53 snaps played, 87% of offensive snaps)
Anchrum played left guard in the first half and left tackle in the second. He played both positions equally well. I am not sure what to think about his playing in almost all the offensive snaps, sitting out only the final Rams possession.
It was good seeing him show the versatility to play both guard and tackle at solid level, it can only make him more valuable to the Rams. He’s been limited to special teams work in his two seasons with LA, all in his 2020 rookie season. Last season, he started the year on the Injured Reserve List, was never active and did not record a snap.
Most fans would consider him a lock to make the roster and his performance in game one would support that. If that is the case, let’s get him off the field and give those snaps to a developmental player.
Jeremiah Kolone (45 snaps, 74%)
In his fifth Rams training camp, Kolone may have found a home at center. He has never made an active roster. The sheer fact that LA has kept bringing him back year after year, speaks volumes about what the coaching staff thinks of him. It would be a great story if he could earn a position on the opening roster.
Against the Chargers, he was able to win reps when he used his relatively stocky build to his advantage. He stayed balanced, used low pad leverage by bending at the knees and kept his punch inside. Kolone moved well and sustained blocks on run plays and anchored well in pass protection. On the reps he lost, his pad level got little high, he was overpowered, and pushed backwards.
Chandler Brewer (35 snaps, 57%)
Another great story if he could navigate his way to roster. Brewer took over at left guard in the second half and I thought he had a stellar blocking game in both run and pass. When he was tasked with moving the second level and striking the linebackers, he succeeded.
On the only rep that could be rated a loss, he chose to help out the left tackle instead of the rookie center. The opposing edge faked inside and then burst around the corner, Brewer bit on the fake and didn’t hit anybody, meanwhile the defensive tackle charged through the A gap, a tough block for the center.
Like Kolone, he’s been with the Rams awhile, originally signing back in 2019 and his has been a long road. He came to his rookie training camp just a few months after cancer treatments and sat out 2020 because of his health history and the COVID scare.
Logan Bruss (46 snaps, 75%)
Overall, the rookie got his feet wet and looked satisfactory doing it. If not for a couple of poor reps, his grade could be stretched to good. With two preseason games left to settle in, he should be ready to provide early value. I don’t know if Coleman Shelton is entrenched or not, but Bruss will be ready to push for play time as a rookie.
He spent the first half battling ex-Ram Morgan Fox and although Fox is more of a rotational talent, matching up across him is a good test for any rookie. After re-watching the game, Bruss held his mud and did it without double teams or chips.
Although AJ Jackson officially gave up this sack, look in the middle of the field. Fox gives Bruss a “welcome to the NFL” love tap.
AJ Jackson (45 snaps, 74%)
Certainly Pro Football Focus didn’t think he played very well. Like Bruss, here’s another performance I thought was close to a good game. In the first half he was at left tackle and had a a lot of good reps, but when he he whiffed, it was really glaring.
In the second half, he moved over to right guard. He looked winded and played a little too high, causing him to not sustain blocks and not get his hands up quick enough to anchor on bullrushes. Overall, not a stellar showing, but rather, something to build on.
Needing a life preserver
Bobby Evans (30 snaps, 49%)
Last week, all his snaps were at right tackle and his performance mirrored that of his Rams career— mediocre at best. He looked slow off the ball and out of shape. It might be best for both Evans and the Rams to part. Maybe he can resurrect his career in a new city. LA has enough young, talented potential and wouldn’t miss him.
After being drafted at #97 of the third round in 2019, Evans has accrued eight starts and saw action in 25 overall. His three year Pro Football Focus rating is 52.5. In the final year of his rookie contract, there’s a lot of rumors circulating about his departure. ESPN put him on their list of possible cut candidates. LA could save a little under $1 mil by letting him go.
≈AJ Arcuri (31 snaps, 51%)
Replaced Evans at right tackle for the second half. He was ok against the run showing some push and strength, but struggled with speed from the edge in pass blocking. Arcuri needs a lot of work, his best use in on the practice squad.
Jack Snyder (16 snaps, 26%)
Came in at center for the fourth quarter. Looked a little light in lower body power, rode out rushers instead of anchoring and got knocked flat on one rep. Snyder is another player who needs a year on the practice team to work on play strength.
Max Pircher (did not play)
Maybe he’ll get some mop-up snaps and fans will get a look at how his progress is coming along. Part of the 2021 NFL International Player Pathway class, he doesn’t count against the roster, so any possible value he might add is a plus.
Who’s in, who’s stock is rising, and who’s out?
If the Rams keep nine offensive linemen, then Logan Bruss is certainly in, not only because he was the Rams top draft pick, but his play was promising in his first pro action. Tremayne Anchrum and AJ Jackson were both on last years squad and will have to pay their way off instead of vice versa. Jeremiah Kolone and Chandler Brewer got off to solid starts and are currently the battle for OL9.
Bobby Evans just doesn’t seem to have improved over his time in LA. AJ Arcuri and Jack Snyder need to really step up their game to be more than practice squad candidates. Pircher? Who knows? So far, the only place for fans to see him on the practice field.