Rams sign second-round pick as bodyguard for QB Bradford

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Rams second-round draft pick Rodger Saffold takes part in drills during an April rookie minicamp in St. Louis. (Jeff Roberson ~ Associated Press)

Offensive tackle Rodger Saffold, the team's No. 2 pick, is in place for camp

ST. LOUIS -- Sam Bradford's protection is now in place.

The St. Louis Rams announced Wednesday that they have come to terms with their second-round draft pick, offensive lineman Rodger Saffold. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Saffold, who was the 33rd player selected in April, is expected to play right tackle. Jason Smith, last year's No. 1 selection and the second overall pick in 2009, has moved to left tackle.

Due to a knee injury and a concussion, Smith played in only eight games last year, starting five. The Rams will in essence be protecting Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick, with two untested players.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur seems unconcerned, however. He said Wednesday he is excited by what Saffold and Smith bring to the table.

"I think they're young and talented, so we're excited about what these guys can do," Shurmur said. "They've got fresh legs and they're really good players, so we anticipate they're going to be very productive for a long, long time."

Saffold started 41 of 42 games while at Indiana and earned second-team All-Big 10 honors as a senior when he allowed just three sacks on 440 pass plays.

Although Shurmur would not say for certain that Saffold would start right away, all signs point in that direction.

"At this point, we'll see how it plays out," Shurmur said. "We'll put the best five guys out there and I would anticipate he'll wind up playing tackle."

Shurmur is taking a similar approach with Bradford, who has yet to sign. Shurmur likes what he has seen so far from the former Heisman Trophy winner.

"He did such a good job in the spring," Shurmur said. "I'd like to be able to see him build on that.

"His challenge is to be ready to play Day 1. If that works out, great. If it takes a little bit longer, so be it. But I'm anticipating he's going to build on what he did this spring."

If Bradford is not ready from the beginning, the team will turn to 10-year veteran A.J. Feely, who has an extensive history with Shurmur from his days in Philadelphia.

The Rams rookies were set to report for training camp Wednesday afternoon. The full squad is due in Saturday.

The Rams also said that they have signed sixth-round pick Fendi Onobun, a tight end from the University of Houston. Onobun played one season of college football after a four-year basketball career at the University of Arizona.

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