Rams notebook: Barksdale steps in for injured Saffold

2013-08-11T00:25:00Z 2013-08-11T07:37:12Z Rams notebook: Barksdale steps in for injured SaffoldBy Joe Lyons jlyons@post-dispatch.com 636-493-9675 stltoday.com
August 11, 2013 12:25 am  • 

Just a handful of plays into their first offensive drive of the preseason, the Rams lost starting right tackle Rodger Saffold with a dislocated left shoulder.

Up stepped Joe Barksdale.

“I was ready,’’ the third-year pro from LSU said following Saturday’s practice at Rams Park. “I’d been getting lots of reps in practice, more on the left side than the right. It’s football, you’ve gotta be ready whenever they call your number.

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“I just strapped it up and did what I needed to do.’’

Barksdale, who stands 6 feet 5 and weighs 325 pounds, declined to critique his performance. But Rams coach Jeff Fisher liked what he saw.

“As an offensive lineman, there’s always something you can do better,’’ Barksdale said. “So I don’t necessarily look at them as good or bad games because at the end of the day, you’re chasing perfection.’’

Fisher added: “Joe did fine. When Joe played last year in a couple of games, he did well. Joe’s lining up against some good defensive ends here at practice every day....we’re totally comfortable with Joe.’’

Barksdale, who was selected in the third round of the 2011 draft by Oakland, played in 16 games but did not make a start that season with the Raiders. After being waived, Barksdale was picked up by the Rams in late September. He played in six games last season, getting midseason starts against the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots.

“The experience from last year helps a lot because now I’m comfortable. I know the plays and know the adjustments,’’ said Barksdale, 24. “The better you know the plays, the slower the game is for you. And any time you get reps in a game, it’s valuable.”

Over the summer, Barksdale spent some time working with Rams legendary tackle Jackie Slater.

“I met him last year (and) we talked,’’ Barksdale recalled. “He actually worked with the Raiders’ staff when I was in college, so he knew me from scouting me.

“I decided to fly out and see what he could teach me.’’

Barksdale spent a week with Slater, who played all 20 of his Hall of Fame seasons with the Rams.

“He has a plethora of knowledge and information to bestow on somebody and was I was pretty much there 24/7, picking his brain kind of like the Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi,’’ Barksdale said.


Three players — linebacker Jabara Williams, linebacker/defensive end Sammy Brown and wide receiver Andrew Helmick — returned from injuries Saturday.

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But they didn’t do a whole lot.

“It’s getting there, but it’s a process. I’m definitely feeling better,’’ said Williams, who said he made it through about half of Saturday’s practice before his hamstring tightened up. “You just have to try and grind it out as best you can. I’m excited to be out there, running around again. With the day off (Sunday), hopefully I’ll feel even better Monday.’’

Williams, who is 6-2, 238, was drafted by the Rams in the seventh round of the 2011 draft and played in two games that season before being released and signed by the Chicago Bears.

Brown, who has been slowed with a calf injury, is a second-year pro who came off the practice squad to make his NFL debut late last season against San Francisco.

Helmick, a rookie free agent from nearby Lindenwood University, impressed with the ability to make catches early in camp, but had been sidelined with a hamstring injury.


Visitors to Rams Park Saturday included Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and longtime NFL executive/broadcaster Gil Brandt of NFL.com.

  • RBs Zac Stacy and Terrance Ganaway sat out Saturday, although coach Jeff Fisher expects Stacy to return to practice Monday. Others absent Saturday were rookie free agent tackle Sean Hooey (ankle) and DE Eugene Sims (family matter).
  • DT Jermelle Cudjo, sidelined and on the PUP list because of a foot injury, is out of his boot and close to returning. “We just need to get him back in football shape,’’ coach Jeff Fisher said.
  • Former Rams center Andy McCollum, a volunteer assistant coach with Eureka High, stopped by to watch Saturday’s practice session. McCollum is a financial advisor.

Joe is a St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter.

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