The Rams added depth at center Tuesday when they claimed Austin Blythe off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts.
Blythe, 24, played at Iowa and was a seventh-round draft pick by the Colts in 2016. He played in eight games last season, starting one.
The Rams also signed defensive back Dominique Hatfield, an undrafted free agent from Utah who participated as a tryout player at last week’s rookie camp. The Rams waived linebacker Adefolarin Orimolade, an undrafted linebacker from Dartmouth.
Claiming the 6-foot-2, 291-pound Blythe is the latest move the Rams have made at center after last season’s offensive line struggles.
In March, the Rams released two-year starting center Tim Barnes. They pursued restricted free agent Ryan Groy, who had played for Rams offensive line coach Aaron Kromer with the Buffalo Bills, but the Bills matched the Rams offer sheet and retained Groy.
In April, the Rams signed veteran John Sullivan to a one-year, $900,000 contract, according to spotrac.com. Sullivan played for the Minnesota Vikings for seven seasons before suffering back injuries that forced him to sit out the 2015 season. He played last season as a reserve for the Washington Redskins in new Rams coach Sean McVay’s final season as offensive coordinator.
The center group now includes Sullivan, Blythe, third-year pro Demetrius Rhaney and undrafted free agent Jake Eldrenkamp.
Eldrenkamp, 6-5 and 297 pounds, played guard and tackle in college at Washington.
“He’s a guy that’s got good movement,” McVay said last week during the rookie camp. “He’s got some flexibility to be able to play on the interior line.”
McVay also said that guards were “cross-training” to play center.
“Just because you’ve got to have the season in mind when you’ve got seven, maybe eight linemen up [on game day],” he said. “If something did happen to one of those centers, typically it’s going to be guard, unless you’re going to have one of those guys that’s your sixth or seventh lineman be exclusively a center.
“It’s important for those guards to be able to have some flexibility and be able to snap that football if some of those emergency situations dictate that.”
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