THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP)Time is moving much faster for Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman David Edwards.
Edwards has been learning to play more quickly after switching from tackle to guard, a process that had to be expedited as the rookie from Wisconsin is expected to start at left guard against Atlanta on Sunday.
”I feel really confident that I’ll be able to battle for these guys,” Edwards said.
Edwards has played in all six games this season, but all 31 snaps he has seen have come on special teams. That will change this week after starter Joe Noteboom suffered a torn ACL and MCL in the 20-7 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.
Jamil Demby replaced Noteboom against the 49ers, and his struggles led coach Sean McVay and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer to turn to Edwards, who was drafted in the fifth round.
Initially regarded as a swing tackle who could possibly develop into a successor to 14-year veteran Andrew Whitworth at left tackle down the road, Edwards started learning how to play guard for the first time during organized team activities in the spring. It was a major transition for the 6-foot-6, 308-pound Edwards, a high school quarterback who started 31 games on the offensive line in four seasons with the Badgers. Instead of having the time and space he was accustomed to operating with, Edwards quickly realized that playing inside demands an immediate reaction.
”When you play tackle, you have three or four steps before you make contact. When you play guard on the interior, it’s kind of like right now,” Edwards said, clapping his hands for emphasis. ”Just being able to be braced and strong earlier in your set as opposed to later at tackle.”
Edwards said Whitworth has been a valuable resource in helping him make adjustments and get his timing down this week.
”Learning and playing next to Whit is priceless,” Edwards said. ”I mean, he took me aside for one period of (individual drills on Wednesday) and we just worked on one specific block, so he’s been awesome.”
Whitworth was one of several teammates that praised Edwards for his willingness to listen and learn, which is why first-year starting center Brian Allen expects Edwards to play well in his first start.
”It’s my job to make him right,” Allen said. ”I make the call, I know he’s going to listen. I trust him and think it’s going to be good.”
Still, Edwards finds himself thrust into the starting lineup at a critical time for the Rams. Los Angeles has lost three games in a row for the first time under McVay and struggles on the offensive line are a big reason why. The ground game is averaging .55 yards fewer per carry than they did last season, with rushes up the middle considerably less effective than they were during the Rams’ run to the Super Bowl.
Factor in the uncertainty at running back, and it makes Edwards’ job all the more important. Todd Gurley was a full participant in practice Friday and is expected to play against the Falcons after not playing against the 49ers because of a quadriceps injury, but Malcolm Brown is doubtful because of an ankle injury. Rookie Darrell Henderson Jr. is likely to see carriers regardless of Gurley and Brown’s availability.
But Edwards said he isn’t concerned about the stress of trying to get the running game going or keeping pace with San Francisco and Seattle in the top-heavy NFC West. He just wants to play well and make the most of this opportunity.
”I think there’s more internal pressure just cause I want to do the best I can for the guys on the offense,” Edwards said. ”I know that it’s not all going to be perfect, but I’m going to battle my tail off for those guys.”
NOTES: CB Jalen Ramsey is expected to make his Rams debut Sunday after practicing the past two days. McVay said Ramsey’s workload is still to be determined after being acquired from Jacksonville in a trade Tuesday. . LB Kenny Young and OL Austin Corbett are not expected to play this week. Young was acquired from Baltimore in a trade, and Corbett was acquired from Cleveland.
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