On Monday, November 7 in front of the Zoom cameras with the L.A. media, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay zeroed in on the left side of the offensive line as an area where re-evaluation would likely occur.
Two days later on the late morning of Wednesday, November 9, the first sign of change has come — with the Rams set to welcome back a $3.2 million option and past starter.
Announced by the team on Twitter, the Rams have designated a return to practice for guard and center Coleman Shelton.
The NFL Network’s Kayla Burton adds that Shelton is set to return to Rams practice on Wednesday — the first day of their preparation against the Arizona Cardinals for Week 10.
Shelton’s return was also announced before McVay revealed that quarterback Matthew Stafford got placed into concussion protocol following the 16-13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with the starting QB getting placed there on Tuesday.
Impact of Shelton’s Return
Before entering the league out of the University of Washington, Shelton was lauded for his versatility on the interior by nfl.com draft expert Lance Zierlein.
“Washington coaches moved Shelton around regularly throughout his first three seasons on the field, playing him at every position on the front line. They found a home at center for the tall, athletic lineman, where he could use his foot quickness, nasty attitude, and intelligence to control each play,” Zierlein wrote pre-draft.
Shelton did enough to earn Lineman of the Year honors at UW in 2014. Despite going undrafted, he managed to work his way into the starting lineup when he found a home inside the “Rams House.”
Shelton managed to squeeze in two starts during the Rams’ 2021 Super Bowl 56 run. He didn’t allow a single sack on 125 pass blocking attempts according to Pro Football Focus. He eventually signed a two-year deal worth $3,250,000 with a 2022 base salary of $1,250,000 per Spotrac.
Shelton then moved into the starting lineup before the regular season. He got 67 offensive snaps in a right guard against the Buffalo Bills. But then, following the injury to starting center Brian Allen, Shelton slid over to center and held the starting spot for the next three games.
The 6-foot-4, 299-pounder snapped the football on 62 plays in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons per PFF — a game that didn’t see Shelton give up a sack. He was then on the field for 48 plays in the first 2022 contest against the Cardinals. Shelton, though, would go down with a high ankle sprain during the Week 4 road loss to the San Francisco 49ers, which was also the last time he saw any kind of football action. Jeremiah Kolone stepped into his place from there and for the next two games.
What Shelton’s Return Could Point to
With Shelton in the process of returning by being given the greenlight to practice, it brings the first sign of a reshuffled left side of the line moving forward.
Bobby Evans stepped in at left guard for the Buccaneers game on Sunday, November 6. Evans, however, surrendered two sacks facing Vita Vea in the Rams’ 16-13 loss at Raymond James Stadium. Before Evans, The re-arrival of Shelton, plus Allen already manning center, likely points to Shelton sliding back into the left guard spot against the Cardinals.
There are already Ram fans embracing the return of Shelton.
One fan hopes to see Shelton snapping the football instead of manning LG.
One potential reshuffled lineup could consist of Shelton joining Alaric Jackson on the blindside, then Allen in the middle (Allen sat out of Wednesday practice with a knee injury, though McVay told the media he should be OK for Week 10), followed by either Oday Aboushi or Chandler Brewer (who got the start against the Bucs) at right guard and then captain Rob Havenstein topping off the OL group versus the Cards.