THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Alaric Jackson spent Week 2 preparing in case he would be needed at left tackle, should Joe Noteboom be unable to play.
Unexpectedly, he was needed at right guard instead.
Starter Tremayne Anchrum Jr. broke his ankle on the Rams' first offensive play of the game, making Jackson the next man up at the position. After stepping in seamlessly in Week 2, he is scheduled to start there again this Sunday against the Cardinals.
"Kind of the same thing, same prep, same as last week," Jackson told theRams.com regarding his approach. "He kind of went down early, so I kind of my first start in a sense. Other than that, nothing different. Prep the same, everything's going to be the same for me."
The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Jackson helped pave the way for a combined 25 carries for 91 yards and one touchdown between running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. in last week's 31-27 win over the Falcons. He also helped Los Angeles' offensive line protect Matthew Stafford, with that unit allowing just one sack all game.
"He just did such a good job in past protection, throwing hands, being physical, staying grounded," Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen said Thursday. "He can really anchor as well as Tree can. You got some big bodies now. You're really talking about an offensive line (where) that right side of the ball is really big, so we like that."
Jackson was prepared in part because the Rams repped in at guard in the preseason, getting snaps there during the preseason opener against the Chargers. Making that transition from swing tackle to guard isn't easy, according to Coen, but Jackson showed "flashes" of being able to do it. Jackson said things move faster on the inside of the offensive line compared to the outside, but technique-wise, it's pretty much the same for him.
The aforementioned size on the right side has Los Angeles the 6-5, 285 Jackson alongside 6-foot-8, 330-pound right tackle Rob Havenstein. From a protection and overall blocking standpoint, having Jackson's size at guards gives the Rams notable protection advantages.
"The athleticism that he's had to play with on the outside? It can almost... things start to move pretty fast when you do get inside," Coen said. "Everybody talks about tackles, tackles, tackles. But if you really think about guards and how fast things actually occur on the inside part of the offensive line, for him to be able to go and do those things because of his mass and size alone, he eats up more space. So some of those twists and stunts and movements is actually easier for him at times because of his mass and size to be able to handle those movements, staying grounded and be able to use his length inside is a huge advantage for us."
Jackson is grateful for the coaching staff trusting him and the process to get to this point. His teammates are confidence he'll continue to perform at a high level and step up this week as seamlessly as he did last week.
"He's just a guy that's always ready, he always has been," Noteboom said. "Very disciplined, works on his craft, so he was a guy we felt great with coming in at guard or tackle. You just see the work ethic and you feel comfortable with him."
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