ST. LOUIS (AP) — One series in to Sunday's game, Rodger Saffold was back at left tackle for the St. Louis Rams. What a strange trip it has been.
Left tackle was Saffold's spot his first three NFL seasons after the Rams drafted him in the second round. He wears No. 76 in tribute to former Rams seven-time Pro Bowler Orlando Pace, who manned that position.
When Jake Long signed a free-agent deal with St. Louis last offseason, Saffold became a right tackle without much fuss. Saffold's versatility got tested again when the Rams (7-8) wanted to plug a gap at guard for injured Harvey Dahl.
After Long was carted off the field with a torn anterior cruciate ligament after the third snap of Sunday's 23-13 victory over the Buccaneers, Saffold was home again as the anchor of a unit that gave up just one sack and paved the way for rookie Zac Stacy's second straight 100-yard rushing day.
"It's kind of crazy," Saffold said. "I kind of blame my father for this move: He called and said 'God forbid anything happen, but be ready.'"
But for how long?
Saffold will start at left tackle in the finale at Seattle this week, but coach Jeff Fisher said Monday he thought Saffold's best position in the future might be guard because he's good at pulling. He's perhaps the strongest player on the team.
"Rodger's a tremendous athlete and when healthy you could put him up there with some of the best in the league," Fisher said. "What we've done in the run game has involved him pulling."
Saffold is eligible for free agency and could leave in search of a left tackle opening. Uncertainty over Long's rehab from the late-season injury could play into that scenario, and into the teams' draft plans, too.
The Rams have two first-round picks, including perhaps the second overall pick as the final payoff from the Robert Griffin III trade with Washington.