Saffold plays well in first NFL start at guard

2013-11-11T05:40:00Z 2013-11-24T21:33:56Z Saffold plays well in first NFL start at guardBy Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197 stltoday.com

It’s said that playing center or guard in the NFL is like playing in a phone booth because the space is confined and everything comes at you quickly. With that in mind, Rodger Saffold didn’t come out of the booth looking like Superman, but he acquitted himself well in his first NFL start at guard.

“Life in the phone booth went OK, but when I have to cover downfield, I never freakin’ get there,” Saffold said following the Rams’ 38-8 victory over Indianapolis.

“I was so close to Tavon (Austin) when he caught that pass — the (first) one he took to the house,” Saffold said. “I started running, and I just slowed down. I said there’s no way in hell I’m gonna catch him.”

Offensive linemen are supposed to follow plays down the field, because you never know when a player might slow down or cut back and need a block. But with Austin catching touchdown passes of 57 and 81 yards Sunday, there was no way Saffold or any of his linemates were going to be of any help.

It got to the point, Saffold said, that he told himself, “I’ve got to start taking out some of these pads.”

Anything to pick up a little extra speed.

With Harvey Dahl missing his second consecutive game with a knee injury, Saffold started at right guard against the Colts. He hadn’t played guard since the seventh grade. The Rams started Shelley Smith in place of Dahl last week against Tennessee, but coach Jeff Fisher opted for Saffold against Indianapolis.

“I thought Rodger played pretty well at right guard,” Fisher said.

“It went really, really well,” Saffold said. “There’s definitely some things I’ve got to work on. I’m definitely gonna take the time, watch the film with the coaches.

“I have so much respect for Harvey Dahl, Chris Williams, because (guard) is tougher than it looks. But I think I was definitely able to hold my own. I was confident in my technique and I was able to open up some holes in the run game. So all in all I’m happy.”

Smith ended up playing several snaps as an extra blocker — technically an eligible receiver — in an effort to help the run-blocking and compensate for the fact that tight end Lance Kendricks was sidelined with a fractured finger. Unfortunately for tight end Mike McNeill, using Smith in that role cut down significantly on the extra snaps he might have received in Kendricks’ absence.


Spelling Zac Stacy for a couple of plays in the first quarter, running back Benny Cunningham left with ankle problems. But he returned later in the game and ended up as the Rams’ leading rusher with 72 yards on just seven carries. Fifty-six of those yards came on one run late in the fourth quarter, the team’s longest run of the season from scrimmage.

Linebacker James Laurinaitis plays every snap nearly every game, but he left in the second half with what was announced as a laceration of the head. Laurinaitis had several stitches in his right ear in the locker room afterward.

Reserve cornerback and special-teamer Brandon McGee suffered a hip injury, the severity of which was unknown.


Besides Kendricks and Dahl, Rams inactives included QB Brady Quinn (hip), RB Daryl Richardson (toe, foot), plus healthy scratches G/C Barrett Jones, OT Mike Person and DE Gerald Rivers.

Richardson practiced last week, but the Rams might have rested him this week figuring he could use the upcoming bye week to get healthy or at least healthier. Richardson has been injured since opening day but has now missed the last two contests.


With the bye this week, the Rams don’t play again until Nov. 24 at home against Chicago.

Follow Jim Thomas on twitter @jthom1

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