Rams tinker with offensive line to better protect Matthew Stafford after rough opener

Rams offensive lineman Coleman Shelton, who is moving from right guard to center for upcoming games, is optimistic but not certain that his being left-handed won’t be an issue for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

“I’d like to say no, but you’ll probably have to ask Matthew about that,” Shelton told reporters on Monday.

Shelton snapping the ball as a lefty is a minimal issue that can be fixed with slight adjustments, but the Rams’ offensive line probably can’t afford more problems after allowing seven sacks in a season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills and sustaining a few injuries that caused shuffling ahead of Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Shelton is moving to center because Brian Allen, the right-handed starter, recently had a procedure on his knee that will sideline him for two to four weeks, according to Rams coach Sean McVay. Backup lineman Tremayne Anchrum is taking over Shelton’s starting position at right guard, and Alaric Jackson is preparing to play in case left tackle Joe Noteboom isn’t available Sunday after sustaining a sprained MCL versus the Bills.

“I’m really excited,” Anchrum said about starting. “I’ve worked really hard. I’ve been doing everything I can to prepare, just to play anywhere.”

Shelton and Jackson are confident they can produce in their new roles because of their past game experiences, with Shelton playing two games at center last year and Jackson receiving 52 snaps against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15 last season.

Anchrum doesn’t have that benefit because he’s only played three offensive snaps in his first two seasons in the NFL, but he’s eager to display how he’s transformed his game and body as a guard after mostly playing tackle at Clemson. He said he learned from starting left guard David Edwards, right tackle Rob Havenstein and former Rams guard Austin Corbett to develop a training system that best suited him.

“Worked on the fundamentals, really,” Anchrum said. “Worked on overall strength and power. Really perfecting my craft as it relates to this offense and how I can contribute and how I can add on to the great offense that is the Los Angeles Rams. I’ve been working on my physicality and really being intentional with my steps and I feel like it’s going to show.

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“To be able to dominate, you just have to do what you do to the best of your ability. You don’t have to be an Austin Corbett, you don’t have to be a Rob Havenstein, you don’t have to be a David Edwards. You have to be the best version of Tremayne and wherever you feel comfortable.”

Jackson, the team’s second-year swing tackle, almost entered the game against the Bills, but Noteboom was able to finish the game. McVay expressed confidence that Noteboom will be ready to play against Atlanta, and if he does, Jackson is optimistic he’ll have a bounce-back performance.

“A really great player,” Jackson said of Noteboom. “For all of us overall in the O-Line, we had a tough night. Things happen. This was our first game overall. We don’t play in the preseason.”

It was a night to forget for the Rams’ new-look offensive line in their first game without the recently retired Andrew Whitworth and Corbett, who now plays for the Carolina Panthers.

“We gotta improve and we gotta keep Matthew clean,” Shelton said. “That’s the goal moving forward and we’re gonna give it everything we got.”