The St. Louis Rams began organized team activities this week, but they’re still without starting left tackle Greg Robinson, who is recovering from toe surgery, and left guard Rodger Saffold, who is making his way back from shoulder surgery. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Joe Lyons recently detailed in his notes from OTAs, the Rams are providing several backups with an extended chance to prove themselves:
With left tackle Greg Robinson (toe) and left guard Rodger Saffold (shoulder) limited as they return from offseason surgery, the Friday first unit remained Brandon Washington at left tackle, veteran Garrett Reynolds at left guard and rookies Rob Havenstein and Jamon Brown at right tackle and right guard, respectively.
Despite the fact that he’s stuck around for nearly the entirety of Jeff Fisher and Les Snead’s reign at Rams Park, it’s a bit surprising to see Washington getting starting reps at left tackle. Over his three seasons with the Rams, Washington has been active for just one game while serving time on the practice squad for each of those seasons. While it’s not necessarily an ultimate indication of the organization’s faith in the player–former undrafted rookie Sean Hooey got plenty of reps with the ones last spring at left tackle but ended up being released at the end of training camp–it says something that the Rams are acting as if Washington will be the next man up if Robinson goes down.
The choice to work Washington with the ones is also a likely indication of exactly how raw fourth-rounder Andrew Donnal is. Donnal, who started for just one full collegiate season, playing right tackle for Iowa in 2014, was widely talked about as needing to develop more on-field strength before being able to perform at the NFL level. Considering that the Rams seem to be uncomfortable with even giving him reps with the starters as a fill-in during the spring, it might be an indication that Donnal will receive a “redshirt year” in 2015, just as previous Fisher/Snead draftees such as Barrett Jones, Demetrius Rhaney, and Rokevious Watkins (on injured reserve) have received before him. This way, the 6-foot-6, 313-pounder can take his time learning the offense and adding strength before the team counts on him in a game.
If Washington is ultimately pressed into duty at the position this year, he’d be one of the shortest NFL left tackles in recently memory, standing at 6-foot-2 and 320 pounds. It’s somewhat curious that Fisher, who just last month commented that 6-foot-8 rookie tackle Rob Havenstein was “too tall” to play guard, would approve of the 6-foot-7 Reynolds playing guard while Washington works at tackle.
Reynolds, who has NFL experience at both tackle and guard, will likely be the Rams’ top swingman on the offensive line this year unless another veteran is signed before training camp. The 6-foot-7, 305-pounder has started 27 career games in the NFL and should be a nice veteran depth option on the Rams’ inexperienced line.