ST. LOUIS (AP) — For a change, Tim Barnes has the upper hand when it comes to trash-talking with fellow St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Barrett Jones.
Barnes is set to make his first career start at center Sunday at Arizona in place of injured Scott Wells.
He plans on watching alma mater Missouri play Auburn in the SEC championship game Saturday — or at least most of it before evening meetings. Alabama, where Jones starred on three national title teams, is an unexpected outsider.
"Yeah, I mean, I'm not going to say too much," Barnes said Wednesday. "We'll see what happens after this weekend."
Barnes was a three-year starter at center for Missouri from 2008-10.
Before playing the second half of last week's loss at San Francisco after Wells broke his left ankle, he'd gotten only special teams duty in 26 games the past two seasons with St. Louis. He did get one snap in a blowout loss to the Patriots in London.
"Tim's done a great job," coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday. "You see the skill set, and he's dedicated, he's a pro, he prepares. He's ready to go."
Fisher also has rooting interest in the SEC championship game. His son, Trent, is a junior backup safety at Auburn.
Fisher joked that he'd be "rooting for the Tigers" — the nickname of both teams.
"I said this the other day, what a great accomplishment on behalf of both programs," Fisher said. "I will be watching it as a dad, however, so you'll know which way I'm leaning."
Against the 49ers, Barnes got extended playing time for the first time since the preseason finale against Baltimore. He said there wasn't enough time to be nervous.
"So, obviously I was a little rusty," he said. "There's things I've got to work on and I'm going to pick on myself and make sure I get better. I was pleased with myself, but obviously there's room for improvement."