The Los Angeles Rams are remaining open-minded about the construction of their offensive line.
Greg Robinson is moving from left tackle to right tackle and Rob Havenstein will switch from right tackle to right guard, but several players will be working out at an assortment of positions while new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer searches for the ideal combination. The only real certainty seems to be that Andrew Whitworth, guaranteed $15 million in the middle of March, will protect Jared Goff's blindside. Everything else is up for grabs.
"I think a lot of guys are cross-training, because we don’t know where we’re going to be," Havenstein told reporters from the team facility on Tuesday, the start of the Rams' veteran minicamp. "Coach Kromer said it -- the best five are going to play, whoever that is. Guys are going to have to compete, work for the job; obviously myself included. We're going to be fighting to get better together."
The Rams drafted seven offensive linemen from 2014 to '15 but have been unable to get it right up front. Behind that offensive line last year, Goff absorbed 25 sacks over the last six games and Todd Gurley had the second-fewest rushing yards per attempt. Offensive line play was the central reason the Rams finished 4-12 last year, and the ensuing offseason brought change.
Kromer, who most recently oversaw a Bills offensive line that led the NFL in rushing each of the last two years, replaced 30-year NFL veteran Paul Boudreau. Whitworth joined the Rams, creating a ripple effect that prompted Robinson and Havenstein to transition to new spots. And center Tim Barnes was released, replaced by veteran John Sullivan on a one-year contract. The Rams will probably look to draft a center they can develop in the coming days, but they also need to find fits for the young guys currently on their roster.
Whitworth, Sullivan, Robinson, Havenstein and left guard Rodger Saffold are expected to make up the starting alignment, but it is all subject to change.
"We’re looking for football intelligence," Kromer said in early February. "We’re looking for guys who want to compete and guys that can communicate. We want someone we can sit down with and have a football conversation with, so we can interact and help each other become better. And if we can get that, then you have a good offensive line. If you don’t have that, it’s hard to communicate, it’s hard for them to function as a unit with the quarterback, with the running back."