Rams hope Goldberg can fill Pace's shoes at left tackle

Updated: November 17, 2006, 1:57 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Fourth-year veteran offensive lineman Adam Goldberg will be the replacement for St. Louis Rams seven-time Pro Bowl left offensive tackle Orlando Pace, who suffered a season-ending torn left triceps in last Sunday's loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The decision to start Goldberg at the most critical position on any offensive line came after considerable deliberation by the St. Louis staff, which mulled several options. The Rams face the Carolina Panthers, a team with one of the NFL's premier defensive lines, on Sunday.

One alternative was to move second-year right tackle Alex Barron, the Rams' first-round choice in 2005, to the left side, a position he played at Florida State. Another was to move left guard Todd Steussie, who was a starter at left tackle for much of his 13-year career, into Pace's spot.

But the staff decided to stick with Goldberg, who replaced Pace after he was injured last week. Part of the reason was that the Rams want Barron to work against Carolina left end Julius Peppers, who leads the NFL in sacks, with 11.

"As we talked it through," head coach Scott Linehan said, "we were more comfortable not changing [the other linemen]. We finished the Seattle game this way, so there's a certain level of comfort there."

No matter who replaced Pace, the assignment figured to be a challenging one, given that he is among the NFL's premier left tackles. The St. Louis game plan, at least in pass protection, likely will provide help for Goldberg is some situations.

The Rams, who statistically rank No. 8 in the league in total offense and who feature more seven-step pass drops than many teams, may align a tight end more to the left side or perhaps assist him by having a running back chip-block on pass-rushers. St. Louis has lost its last four games to slip to 4-5.

Goldberg, 26, has worked sparingly at left tackle in his career. His 19 career starts have come mostly at right tackle, with a few at both guard spots. The former Wyoming star, who began his career with the Vikings, was acquired by St. Louis in a Sept. 2 trade for a seventh-round pick in the 2008 draft.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

ALSO SEE