The Los Angeles Rams could be starting their third left tackle in three weeks on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. According to Thursday’s injury report, both Alaric Jackson and Joe Noteboom didn’t practice for the Rams on Thursday. That’s bad news of an offensive line that was ranked 24th this week by Pro Football Focus.
Jackson has been dealing with a hamstring injury over the last two weeks. The third-year left tackle left the game against the Cincinnati Bengals and then missed last week’s game in Indianapolis.
Noteboom, meanwhile, seems to be dealing with a new injury every week. He was on the Week 2 injury report with an ankle, prior to the Bengals game in Week 3 Noteboom was listed with a shoulder issue, and heading into Week 4 he dealt with a knee injury. Now, heading into Week 5, Noteboom is listed with a groin injury.
This leaves the Rams with quite the predicament at left tackle heading into Sunday’s game against the Eagles. That’s especially considering that the Eagles have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Without Noteboom or Jackson, the Rams aren’t left with an official left tackle on the depth chart.
Speaking about Noteboom’s status, Sean McVay said on Wednesday,
“He had his groin a little bit the other day and so he was quickly going to come out and then he ends up returning. So we’re just really seeing...it’s another one of those kind of soft tissue things..You want to be careful but you also know that this guy has put a lot of work in. He’s done a lot of things to be able to play at multiple spots for us, start and be a big-time contributor. I’m very appreciative of that. Sometimes it’s just some unfortunate luck with some of these different things that he’s had to work through, but I’ve been proud of Joe.”
In Week 3 against the Bengals, the Rams opted to play Zach Thomas at left tackle. Thomas is officially listed as the team’s backup right tackle, but is fitted better to play inside at guard. In 35 snaps against the Bengals, Thomas allowed five pressures and two sacks. It’s hard to see the Rams going back to him at that spot unless they absolutely have to.
The Rams could opt to start rookie Warren McClendon at left tackle. That may be a slightly better option than Thomas. With that said, McClendon was primarily a right tackle at Georgia. He played over 2,100 snaps at right tackle compared to just 79 on the left side. McClendon played 45 snaps at left tackle against the Los Angeles Chargers in the preseason and allowed six pressures.
Thomas or McClendon seem like the best two options at left tackle. The final option would be to elevate Logan Bruss or AJ Arcuri from the practice squad. However, if either are brought up, it would likely be just for depth. It’s hard to see the Rams throwing Bruss or Arcuri into a starting position directly from the practice squad. Both players are in the developmental stage of their careers. Additionally, Bruss only 10 snaps at left tackle in the preseason. Arcuri does have more experience, but allowed six pressures in one start last season.
Tremayne Anchrum could technically be considered as he has 27 snaps at left tackle in the 2022 preseason. However, most of his college snaps came on the right side and the Rams have been playing him at right guard.
This is going to be a situation to monitor as Sunday’s game against the Eagles approaches. With the Eagles secondary as susceptible as it is, this is a game in which the Rams would ideally like to be able to play in empty and throw the ball. That’s not something they’ll be able to do if they’re playing a third-string left tackle.
If Noteboom or Jackson aren’t able to start, it will be the third time in five weeks that the Rams have had to make some sort of change at left tackle. It just shows how badly Los Angeles need to add stability at that position.
We can talk about the need to add an edge rusher or even a young quarterback in next year’s draft. However, priority number one has to be the left tackle position. Noteboom clearly is not the answer and Jackson is probably better suited as depth. Both players also seem to be more susceptible to injury. It’s imperative that the Rams find stability at left tackle moving forward.