2022 Rams Training Camp Offensive Line Update

Rams training camp is where Coleman Shelton and Logan Bruss will prove their place on the lineup. Joe Noteboom's is set. But is he Whitworth?

Rams Tackle Rob Havenstein At Rams Training Camp Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams
Rams Tackle Rob Havenstein At Rams Training Camp Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams

2022 Rams Training Camp Offensive Line Update: Left Tackle

The position group that will see the most significant shake-up for the Rams in 2022 is the offensive line. This follows a season that shuffled last season as well and will likely see another jumble next season. The biggest change just so happens to be the most important position on the offensive line, left tackle. And it just so happens the Rams lost one of the best left tackles in the league, Andrew Whitworth. We got our first glimpses of who will fill in for Whitworth at Rams training camp.

There is no question about who will replace Whitworth. Joseph Noteboom. Noteboom has filled in adequately for Whitworth when he has missed time due to injury. The Rams didn’t pursue a left tackle in free agency or in the draft showing unilateral trust in the fifth-year offensive lineman.

Generally, when an organization with a track record like the Rams has this kind of trust, they should be afforded a certain amount of credibility.

But replacing such an important position that once was filled by one of the game’s best with a first-year starter should garner some scrutiny.

One of the problems with scrutinizing Noteboom or any other offensive lineman at Rams training camp is that it is hard to judge the position competing in practice against their own team. The Rams don’t run ‘one on one’ drills and there is an overwhelming priority given to protecting the health of starters.

The best way to judge Noteboom at Rams training camp is in 11-on-11 sessions when he faces the defensive linemen, edge rushers, and linebackers.

When watching the different kinds of rushers that he faces reveals what we could see this season. Broadly speaking at Rams training camp, Noteboom fairs better in pass blocking than in run blocking. That is certainly where the Rams would prefer him to lean if he isn’t wholly well-rounded.

Where Noteboom fared the best was speed edge rushers that tried to use that speed and technique to cut the outside corner. He is quite nimble on his feet and is able to continue to stay low and wide while shuffling to cover those quick and bendy rushers.

When he is hit or miss in pass blocking is against big strong defensive ends. When a bull rusher comes right at him, his side of the pocket collapses more than is preferable. It doesn’t happen every time he was bull-rushed but teams with those freaky defensive ends could have a significant edge against him (think teams that play a lot of 4-3 fronts). It seems to be a weight leverage problem. He can get caught a little high in some instances.

The long and short of it is that Noteboom has taken a step forward. He is looking more and more like an NFL starting left guard. He won’t play in the preseason, so the steps forward that he has taken at Rams training camp are incredibly important toward his development as Whitworth’s replacement.

I would say that he is on his way to becoming a good starting tackle, but is he as complete as Whitworth? No. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. It has taken Noteboom four seasons to accrue 1,373 snaps. Whitworth had more than that in his first two seasons. He logged 3,515 in his first four seasons and finished his career with over 16,000 snaps.

It’s not the first time the Rams have walked the tight rope of replacing a trusted veteran with a, relatively, untested depth piece. But they have never done so with such an important position as the left tackle. Nor have they replaced a player as good as Whitworth. This may be the largest talent gap between a player and a replacing player they have ever attempted. As good as Noteboom can be, his ceiling isn’t Whitworth’s. We won’t know his floor for several more weeks.

2022 Rams Training Camp Offensive Line Update: Right Guard

The Rams are also replacing Austin Corbett at right guard. The competition at Rams training camp for that spot has been between Ram’s first overall draft pick Logan Bruss and Rams roster journeyman Coleman Shelton. The Rams have been waiting for what McVay calls a separation day; the day one of these players makes a significant jump over the other. Given the continued rotation throughout Rams training camp, that day has not yet occurred.

An interesting wrinkle in this position battle is the fact that Shelton doubles as Brian Allen’s backup at center. How that shakes out is Shelton takes second-team reps at center and Bruss takes second-team reps at right guard.

The battle will almost certainly spill over into the preseason, but given Shelton’s official backup role, it will be interesting to see who takes reps where. Starters don’t start the preseason games in McVay’s world. So Allen won’t play a snap of center in those three games. So perhaps they will run Shelton and Bruss as center and guard.

This doesn’t make deciphering this any easier for us and it makes that mythical separation day for the two top candidates less clear. This will be a story to follow for the rest of the offseason. The great news for the Rams is that they have three settled positions. Allen, Rob Havenstein, and David Edwards will continue in their roles from last season.

Rams Tackle Rob Havenstein At Rams Training Camp Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams
Rams Tackle Rob Havenstein At Rams Training Camp Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams