The Los Angeles Rams through the first several weeks of the free agency period have made many notable additions on both sides of the ball in prominent positions.
One of which has been addressing their pressing needs along the offensive line heading into next season. The Rams' decision to sign former Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth to a three-year, $36 million deal has created a big shift in the starting unit that will see a few position changes with Greg Robinson moving over to right tackle while pushing Rob Havenstein inside to right guard.
The former Wisconsin product got his first feel of his new responsibility on Tuesday during the first practice of voluntary minicamp, which he made it quite clear that he is solely focused on learning the position.
“I’m learning. Getting in as much as I can right now, in the classroom, at home, on my own," Havenstein said. "Really trying to make all the reps I have count. I don’t think anyone can afford to waste reps, but especially for me going to a new position. I definitely can’t waste any reps. I really have to take what I’m learning from (offensive line) Coach (Aaron) Kromer, from everyone on the offensive staff over to the field and progressively try to work on it.”
Havenstein had held the starting right tackle spot for the first two seasons of his NFL career after being selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He put together a strong rookie season but played a part of the team's struggles up front in the 2016 campaign while dealing with nagging injuries throughout the year.
Despite not having little experience at right guard in his professional career, Havenstein doesn't appear to be overwhelmed by the different set of duties that come along with the position.
“It’s not huge – it’s still offensive line. We’re still using some of the same techniques," Havenstein said. "There might be little nuances that are a little different. But, kind of from what I hear and what I’m learning, Is things happen a little quicker. There’s not as much space, so it’s just the little things that change.
With that said, Havenstein has been quite satisfied with the addition of new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who has spent 11 years in the NFL in that position for four different teams.
“It’s been great so far. Obviously, with every different O-line coach things will be a little different in what they teach," Havenstein said. "I think we’re all really trying hard to get out there and do exactly what he’s teaching and what he’s coaching. From the film that we’ve watched of the other guys doing it, it works. You just see guys, right now, working really hard.”
Ultimately, Havenstein realizes that all of this shifting across the offensive line will generate plenty of challenges ahead.
"I think a lot of guys are cross-training because we don’t know where we’re going to be," Havenstein said. "Coach Cromer said it, the best five are going to play, whoever that is. Guys are going to have to compete, work for the job, obviously myself included. We’re going to be fighting to get better together.”