Matthew Stafford is greatly welcoming back a “nasty” option missing from the Los Angeles Rams for most of 2022.
As the injuries piled up the roster, one of the more significant losses wasn’t just QB1 for the Rams, but the man who provided a spark on the blindside in Alaric Jackson. The guard slid over to left tackle after Joe Noteboom went down with a torn ACL and momentarily provided a blocking spark…until blood clots prevented him from finishing out the year.
Stafford, though, raved about Jackson’s return in speaking with the L.A. media on Tuesday, May 23 following the Rams’ second practice during Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
“I think he’s a competitive guy. I think it comes out in his attitude probably when you guys talk to him, but also when he plays. Typical nasty offensive lineman and it’s fun to be around,” Stafford said. “He’s definitely a competitive guy that wants to get out there and play physical.”
Is the Rams O-Line Unit Fully Healthy?
The Rams are still in a position where all of their offensive line options are still on the road to being healthy.
Noteboom was seen doing solo workouts as he continues to rehab his knee. He’s not alone in being off to the side doing rehabilitation work. The Rams’ top draft pick from 2022 Logan Bruss is also continuing his road to recovery following his own ACL tear — which occurred before the regular season.
Stafford still isn’t set with knowing who will be his top five protectors for 2023. He’s additionally entered the Thousand Oaks practice site with new faces on the line.
“It’s up to all those guys to go earn their spots, like it is everybody on our team,” Stafford said. “But just as much competition as we can possibly have at all the positions is a good thing for us.”
He especially took a liking that the Rams spent the ’23 draft taking two linemen between rounds two to five.
“Yeah, I mean it’s great. I think the biggest thing for me is just I want, like everybody here wants, is just all of these guys to succeed,” Stafford said. “I want all of them to succeed as best they possibly can. I think coaches, myself, veterans on the team, we have a big part in that and then those guys got to want to do it and do all that. But just want to try and help those guys succeed because the more those guys that are successful in their own right, the better we’re going to be as a team.”
Rookie Describes Transition to Rams
One of the guys who gets his chance to protect Stafford: the Rams’ first pick of the ’23 draft Steve Avila.
Has the TCU Horned Frog star had a tough transition from Texas to California? Especially in his first experience away from the Lonestar State?
“Not really. I know for me, the transition from high school to college was tough, but I feel like you kind of get a taste of how things are a little bit. So this transition was a lot easier,” Avila explained to the L.A. media. “It’s actually my first time being away from home, but again, it’s California. It’s a great place, so it’s been awesome.”
Even though he’s new to the Rams, he’s not the only younger face tasked to protect Stafford and create protection from rushers.
“There’s a lot of younger guys in there too – I’m talking younger, like under 30 – but they all know what they’re doing,” Avila said. “Taking in all the coaching I can and it’s definitely a bunch of camaraderie going around. Got a good group of people. I’m learning stuff every day so I know especially being a rookie and how they do things, so it’s all fun.”