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Rams Signal Confidence in Joe Noteboom if Needed to Step in at Left Tackle for Week 8

The Rams are confident in Joe Noteboom if needed in Week 8.

The Los Angeles Rams offensive line has been one of the best units in the NFL through Week 7, allowing a league-low seven sacks thus far.

While the unit has played exceptionally well – keeping quarterback Matthew Stafford upright – the health of the group has allowed the starting five to play in each game together up to this point.

However, this week, left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) has missed Wednesday and Thursday's practice, putting his Week 8 game status in jeopardy. If Whitworth is unavailable to suit up and play, the Rams will turn to left tackle Joe Noteboom to handle the duties of the edge.

Noteboom has served as a reserve in each of the Rams' first seven games this season. Although, last year he received nine starts, holding his own when called upon.

“He's been so dialed in all year," offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell said of Noteboom. "I know (offensive line) coach (Kevin) Carberry is really excited about just his own personal growth and the work he puts in that nobody sees before practice, after practice. We still find ways to get him reps throughout the week and take some things off ‘Big Whit’ (Andrew Whitworth) throughout the week, leading up to this week. So really no different for Joe as far as his preparation. It's just a matter of preparing like he always does, like he's going to play. And then as we get later in the week and starts to clear up that picture, but I got so much respect for Joe and even the time he came in last year."

Noteboom not only came in last season and played significant snaps, he did so and kept a clean pocket off the blindside against elite competition. The edge-rushers he was dealt were held to a minimum, which is all you can ask for from a swing tackle stepping into a starting role.

"I think about that Tampa game last year on Monday night when (the) best front in the league at the time – more sacks than anybody – and he goes in there and we threw the ball a lot that game, drop back pass," O'Connell said when referencing Noteboom's play last season. "And our confidence in Joe I think was stated that night when we were willing to do that with those types of elite rushers on both edges and he played great. So, a lot of confidence in Joe and really, as I've said, the depth of that whole group coming into camp is what we felt strongest about."

Noteboom prides himself in being ready and that's been apparent to his offensive coordinator in his efforts of staying after practice to receive additional preparation ahead of games.

“One thing about coach Carberry you're going to know, I think he prides himself on being the last group off the field every day," O'Connell said. "Quarterbacks, we try to hang out for a little bit, get our extra work in, but always we're walking by those guys as they're still in the middle of things. And Matthew will tell you, he gets his extra work in, but he's a little on the older side. So, we like to save some throws and get them off the field. But we always see those guys and whether it's coach Carberry with the whole group, what I love about it is you'll see the tight end stick around and work on combination blocks with those guys."

Whether Noteboom is put into play this Sunday or not, the Rams' staff carries a full bill of confidence in the reserve tackle if he's needed to take over in place of the injured Whitworth.

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Nick Cothrel is the Publisher of Ram Digest. Follow Nick and Ram Digest on Twitter @NickCothrel & @RamDigestSI for more Rams coverage.