After agreeing to terms on a one-year deal Wednesday with the Rams, veteran offensive tackle Max Starks jumped right into the water Thursday.
“It’s been a little bit of swimming,” Starks joked after his first practice as a Ram. “But everything’s good. The good thing is there’s a lot of carryover in terminology from what I’m used to in Pittsburgh because (Paul) Boudreau’s familiar with it. So it’s a little bit easier (learning) curve than I’m sure it could be had I been thrown into a West Coast offense.”
After nine seasons with the Steelers, Starks signed with San Diego as a free agent this past offseason but was released during the final cutdowns. Since then, he has been training in Arizona while he waited for the phone to ring.
“Max is an experienced tackle,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “He’s played a lot of plays in this league and can still play. We just brought him in for a workout (Tuesday) and really liked his workout. He’s been working very hard since being released.
“You can’t have enough experience on your offensive line. We’ll get him ready to play in different packages and get him ready to back up if we need him.”
Because of Starks’ experience and the terminology carryover he mentioned, it’s possible he could be game-ready very quickly, perhaps as early as this Sunday in Dallas.
“I mean, football’s football,” Fisher said. “You relate the terminology to the terminology you’re used to. He’s a quick learner. He’s very experienced.”
The additions of Starks, and earlier in the week Mike Person, gives the Rams 12 offensive linemen on the active roster and 13 overall when you include Sean Hooey of the practice squad.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this many guys,” Starks said. “To see 12, it’s like wow. We’ve got a lot of extra bodies, it’s like training camp almost.”
When asked if there were enough chairs in the offensive line meeting room, Starks joked, “I sat on some boxes earlier.”
With Rodger Saffold likely to be sidelined for the next several weeks, the Rams need some depth at offensive tackle.
“We’re just making sure that we’ve got numbers there for back-ups and that kind of thing,” Fisher said. “It’s a little unusual that we carry 12 on the active, but you’re probably going to see more than the normal deactivated on Sundays.”
SPEAKING OF PERSON
Like Starks, Person is trying to grasp a new playbook as quickly as possible. The difference is that Person — a third-year pro — has played in only one NFL regular-season game as opposed to Starks’ 123, which makes Person’s task more difficult.
After playing in Seattle’s season opener as a “big” tight end, Person was released by the Seahawks and claimed on waivers Monday by the Rams.
“I guess it just came down to personnel,” Person said. “They felt like they needed another D-lineman and let me go.”
Although he didn’t appear in any games, Person spent all of 2012 in Seattle and came into the league in 2011 as a seventh-round draft pick by San Francisco. Now he’s in St. Louis, so one more stop (Arizona) and he’ll have the entire NFC West covered.
“He’s got versatility,” Fisher said. “He can play all the positions. He’s a smart guy, he’s a tough guy, and we like what we saw on film.”
Seven of the 10 players who were listed on the Rams’ Wednesday injury report were full participation on Thursday. That group included: DE Chris Long (hip), DE William Hayes (hip), DE Eugene Sims (foot), CB Cortland Finnegan (nose), OG Chris Williams (foot), S Darian Stewart (thigh), and RB Daryl Richardson (foot).
All seven of those players were held out of practice Wednesday, and Richardson was in a walking boot.
Not practicing Thursday were OT Saffold (knee) and TE Mike McNeill (chest). Also, CB Quinton Pointer (thigh) is no longer on the team. He was waived Thursday to make room for Starks.