season, it seemed to work - running back Steven Jackson gained the fifth-most
yards from scrimmage in NFL history and the line finished sixth in Adjusted Line Yards.
This year, it's not going quite so well -
For Linehan, Steussie's re-arrival is about many things - intelligence, veteran presence and depth. "When you have your kids going to school with the players' kids, you understand that the players are a little closer in age.," the coach said. "I like the mix of veterans on the team. I think they're great examples for the players. This goes to show you how dedicated he is to playing this game. It could have been very easy for him to have gone on injured reserve this year.
"It didn't do anything to him on the business side, if you were just looking at it for doing it for a living. He loves to play. He was committed to doing whatever he could to get back on this team, whenever it was ok for him to do so. That says a lot about his dedication to this football team and wanting to get back and helping us whenever he could."
It's been patchwork all the way - Nick Leckey and Rob Petitti, not Orlando Pace and Richie Incognito. They had Petitti in a game not a week after he came in, and that's where a multi-positional veteran like Steussie makes a difference. "Todd's a little bit (of a) different situation," Linehan said. "He can play at any position other than center because he has a lot of experience. We'll just make sure he's in as good of shape as he can. It's not really a concern with him. He does have to be able to play with his pads on and he's done that in awhile. He'll be ready to go. He's a veteran.
"We never worried about whether he was going to be conditioned to be ready. It was just a matter of timing and working with guys that are in there now. We had to introduce him to our team this morning in the offensive meeting because they're all new guys since he was here. He stepped back right where he was. That's been his role to step in different positions. We worked him in a couple of spots at guard and tackle."
It means a lot to Marc Bulger, who's been running for his life when he's been able to play around his own injuries. "It's good," the Rams' quarterback said. "He is a big body, has veteran leadership and has been around. I think anyone else coming back from 10 weeks off would be a little bit iffy but he's been playing long enough that I think he may be a little rusty but he can step in and mentally be there. Like I said, he is a big body which I think we need."
Steven Jackson also saw the benefits
of having the 6'6", 310-pound lineman on the team. It's been difficult
to have line continuity and get all the calls together. "He knows all
the calls that are made up front,"
Steussie and his team are in for a major challenge this Sunday as they re-engage with the Seahawks at the Edward Jones Dome. The Seahawks have amassed almost as many sacks -- 31 -- as the Rams have allowed, though that may turn over after this game if that Rams' line can't get control of Tapp, fellow end Patrick Kerney, and linebacker Julian Peterson.
"I know it's tough on these guys with all the attention that's gone on," Steussie said about the fact that his linemates haven't been able to pass-protect. "It's a difficult situation when you have as many guys injured as we do. The whole team has had it's share of injuries. This is my 14th year and I've never seen even 50 percent of the (number of) injuries we've had on this line. I've introduced myself to about four new guys today because I've never met them before today. Usually you have to go into the second line once in a while, but to go into the third line and have to pull new guys in has been pretty amazing."
Linehan knows what a challenge
Linehan singled out defensive tackle Rocky Bernard for special attention. "He is one of those guys that are a lot like (La'Roi) Glover in that he is always playing hard. You can't have a play where you think you have worn him down so he might take a couple plays off and give you a break. He never gives you a break. He is excellent getting off the line of scrimmage and just plays extremely hard. He comes off, they help him off the field, and then he is back in making plays. He is one of those guys that just keep on coming. You can't deny the fact that he is always giving us fits. It's those kinds of guys that generally are very effective players in this league."
"They are obviously good players but
they have a high motor," Bulger added. "They don't take any plays
off. Obviously we are going to have Steve (
The Rams' game of musical chairs with their offensive line will continue, but the hope is that they'll find a way to get it together. What the team does have is a two-game winning streak to build on, even coming as it does after an eight-game losing jag.
"I think there is more energy,"
Bulger concluded. "You can hear the guys, there is a little bit more
of a buzz. I think we have gotten more confidence. We feel like we can win
every week….We aren't expecting to make mistakes, I think we are looking to
make plays right now and looking to win games. I think just the energy, guys
actually wanting to come to work now and it is more pleasant when you win."
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET, a staff writer for Football Outsiders, a contributing author to Pro Football Prospectus 2007, and he writes NFL previews for the