With training camp set to begin, one of the biggest storylines will be how the offensive line falls into place for the Los Angeles Rams.
Significant turnover and injuries took its toll on this group throughout the course of the 2019 campaign and this led to a significant drop-off on offense. Despite their struggles, the Rams coaching staff showed plenty of confidence by not making very many changes to their personnel.
Austin Blythe is among those that offer up plenty of flexibility on the interior thanks to his experience at both center and guard. However, it appears he has an idea of where he will begin the 2020 NFL season.
The Rams made sure to keep Blythe around by signing him to a one-year deal this offseason. He said during an appearance on the Rams Revealed podcast with J.B. Long that the prospect of starting at center was one of the factors that brought him back, via Cameron DaSilva of USA Today:
“Yeah, yeah. And I think that was one of the main reasons why I came back to the Rams,” he said. “Because I came into the league initially thinking that I’d be a center. I never had an inkling that I’d start significant games at guard. I knew that a possibility just based on my position coming into the league, being an interior offensive lineman, playing those positions in college. But I did not by any means think I’d have this many starts at guard over center. So I’m very excited for the opportunity to play a position I’m very comfortable in and excited to grow off those eight games that I played in last year at center.”
Blythe is confident that having a full offseason to prepare at center will help pay huge dividends for him moving forward:
“I think it has a huge impact. Last year going into the season, I didn’t take any reps at center. I would go out there for center-quarterback exchange five minutes before practice started and get some snaps there, but that’s just snapping the football – that’s easy to do,” he said. “In terms of actually preparing at the center spot, it’s a different animal. You’re on the line of scrimmage, you’re closer to the guy you’re going to have to block, versus guard where you’re a little bit further off the ball. Guys have a little bit more space to make moves – it just takes longer at the guard spot. I know it seems minuscule, but it does make a difference. So that sort of thing, I’ll be able to get comfortable with before even having to play a game versus going in there second quarter of the Steelers game and going with it on the fly. Offensive line is offensive line, but there are little nuances to different positions on the line.”
Blythe started his tenure with the Rams getting time at both guard spots before establishing himself as the starter on the right side to start the 2018 campaign. Unfortunately, all the changes and injuries up front ultimately resulted in him making the full-time move to the middle.
It is encouraging to see that Blythe is optimistic about beginning his preparations as the starting center. After all, any hope of a potential resurgence on offense in the 2020 campaign will need to start at the line of scrimmage.