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Rams’ offensive line success centers on Brian Allen’s health

Rams center Brian Allen blocks on a play
The Rams are hoping Brian Allen can step in and start at center after battling injuries for two seasons.
(David Dermer / Associated Press)

As the Rams prepare for the NFL draft, The Times will examine their roster. Part 3 of 8: Offensive line.

The tackles are veterans; the guards young but experienced.

Who will play center for the Rams is the biggest question for coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead — and new offensive line coach Kevin Carberry — as the Rams prepare for the draft and the 2021 season.

The departure of Austin Blythe, who signed a free-agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, leaves the Rams with a void as they begin a new era with quarterback Matthew Stafford.

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Brian Allen, who started nine games in 2019, is the most likely candidate, though the fourth-year pro has been sidelined for most of the last two seasons because of a knee injury.

The Rams lost some key pieces at safety and cornerback because of free agency, but they’ve been preparing for this through the draft.

“The key that what we don’t necessarily know with Brian is, how will he play, how will he play post-injury?” Snead told reporters in March. “That was a pretty serious injury that he has gone through, and he’s done a heck of a job rehabbing it.

“That’s always going to be something he’s got to do.”

Coleman Shelton, an undrafted free agent center who signed with the Rams in 2019, also will compete for the role. The Rams do not have a first-round draft pick, but they could select a center in the later rounds.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is back for a 16th NFL season. Right tackle Rob Havenstein enters his seventh season.

Joe Noteboom started at left guard before filling in at tackle after Whitworth suffered a knee injury last season. Austin Corbett is the right guard. Both are fourth-year pros.

Bobby Evans and David Edwards have starting experience at tackle and guard, respectively, and second-year pro Tremayne Anchrum appears ready to step into a role.

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The Rams appear set with the pass catchers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be looking for more speed in the NFL draft.

Under contract for 2021: Havenstein ($8.3 million), Whitworth ($5.7 million), Corbett ($1.5 million), Noteboom ($1.1 million), Allen ($1.1 million), Evans ($1.1 million), Edwards ($916,000), Shelton ($850,000), Jamil Demby ($850,000), Anchrum ($799,000), Chandler Brewer ($780,000).

Free agents: Blythe signed a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs that reportedly includes $990,000 in guarantees.

Draft: Noteboom, a third-round pick in 2018, was supposed to be Whitworth’s heir apparent at left tackle. Noteboom has performed adequately at tackle and guard, but the Rams remain in search of a player to lock down that spot.

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Roster decisions: Whitworth, 39, could be in the final year of his career. Corbett, Noteboom and Allen are due to become unrestricted free agents after this season.

NEXT: Defensive line.


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