NASHVILLE – Rodger Saffold showed up on Thursday looking clean, decked out in a green, blue and yellow plaid sports coat, and a big smile on his face.
As the team’s newest offensive lineman, he plans to keep his new team’s quarterback, Marcus Mariota, clean, too.
He doesn’t want him to get decked, and he doesn’t want him to be overloaded with the Titans either.
“You have to block a little bit longer (with Mariota), because he does a great job of extending plays with his legs,” said Saffold, who played his first nine NFL seasons with the Rams. “I think that he is a dual threat, and he can take over a game. But if we can make things easy for him by being more efficient on first and second down, where he doesn’t have to be the elite quarterback who has to take over a game, 40 plays a game, then I think that will be great for our team.”
Saffold officially signed with the Titans on Thursday.
A 6-foot-5, 323-pounder, Saffold is more than willing to get dirty while clearing space for Derrick Henry and the team’s other running backs. He’s expected to play guard with the Titans.
“This guy is huge,” Saffold said of Henry. “He’s shown his ability, and how he can take over a game. I think the one thing that we did well back in L.A. was just being able to make sure that we gave (Todd) Gurley running lanes, where he wasn’t getting hit immediately. If we could do the same thing with Henry, that head of steam would just allow him to get six yards a carry, and we should expect as such.”
The 30-year-old Saffold, a second-round pick by the Rams in 2010, was second-team All-Pro in 2017. He has started 46 of 48 games since the 2016 season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Saffold had the fifth-highest grade of the 131 offensive guards evaluated for run blocking in 2018.
He likes the fit in Tennessee.
“I love to be aggressive, with the help of (offensive line coach) Keith Carter, I will be able to use my talents to help the team,” Saffold said. “The guys that I am going to be playing with, Taylor (Lewan), Ben (Jones), (Josh) Kline, all those guys, it just seems like the perfect fit.”
In his career, the versatile Saffold has played in 114 games with 111 starts, with appearances at both guard positions and tackle. He played collegiately at Indiana.
Saffold, who turns 31 in June, became the longest-tenured player on the Rams, and he played in the Super Bowl last month against the Patriots. The Rams lost that game, 13-3.
On Thursday, he talked about his expectations in Tennessee, with the memories of a Super Bowl run still fresh in his mind.
“The moment alone was huge,” Saffold said of Super Bowl LIII. “I remember looking at Gladys Knight singing the National Anthem to me, and I was just kind of stuck. But (going to the Super Bowl) was pretty cool, getting that little taste of it, it definitely makes you want to go back.
“The whole reason why we are here is to get a Super Bowl championship – we are not here to just appear in the playoffs, we want to make a run. So as long as we have everybody focusing on that same goal, we should be striving for it.”
TitansOnline.com looks back at the career of veteran guard Rodger Saffold, who signed with the Titans as an unrestricted free agent. (AP Photos)
Titans introduce WR Adam Humphries, G Rodger Saffold, and DE Cameron Wake during opening week of free agency. (Photos: Gary Glenn)