Difficult day for former Rams offensive linemen in NFL

Weston Richburg's block on Josh Norman. Following this play, Richburg said something to Norman and then was ejected. Credit: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports

Mama said there’d be days like this.

For Weston Richburg and Ty Sambrailo, Sunday was a struggle for the Next Level Rams.

Richburg, who was considered the third best center in the NFL in 2015 by Pro Football Focus, was thrown out of the New York Giants’ 29-27 loss to the Washington Redskins Sunday. Richburg became the first ever player to be ejected with the league’s new rule in which two unsportsmanlike penalties warrants them being tossed.

After the game, Richburg said the official who threw him out was “after me.”

“The guy that threw (the flag) was after me,” Richburg said per NJ.com. “I deal with him a lot because he is the umpire and he’s spotting the ball, so we’re talking about calls and whatnot.”

In the second quarter, Richburg was given his first unsportsmanlike penalty — which are handed out for abusive language or taunting the opposing team — though it was difficult to say what he did to earn it, Dan Duggan of NJ.com explained. The former Rams’ second such penalty occurred in the fourth quarter following his block of cornerback Josh Norman as Richburg said something to Norman after the whistle sounded.

Richburg wasn’t told why he earned the second unsportsmanlike penalty. “I hope not because it was a good block,” Richburg said when asked if ejection was for blocking Norman.

The third-year center is certainly a leader of his offensive line in New York, gaining the respect of teammates with tremendous play.

“It’s an emotional game,” Richburg said. “Big things happen, big plays and like I said, I have to be that consistent presence in there and be a leader, and today I let my offensive line down and my team down.”

Richburg wasn’t the only one who had a tough day, as his former teammate, Ty Sambrailo, struggled for the Denver Broncos in their 29-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Due to an injury to Donald Stephenson, Sambrailo stepped in to play right tackle for Denver and had a few miscues.

It should be noted that Sambrailo, now in his second season, started at left tackle as a rookie last year when then-starter Ryan Clady went down with injury. Sambrailo started three games at left tackle before a shoulder injury sent the former CSU standout to the Injured Reserve list himself. This year, Sambrailo has been dealing with an elbow injury and was inactive for the first two weeks of the season. But, with other injuries on the line, Sambrailo was asked to step in and play right tackle for the first time at the NFL level.

In the second quarter, on the Broncos first play of their sixth drive, Sambrailo was called for a holding penalty which put the offense in a 1st-and-20 hole they would dig themselves out of. In the third quarter, the right tackle allowed Carlos Dunlap to sack quarterback Trevor Siemian, setting up a 3rd-and-16 for the Broncos, forcing them to punt two plays later.

The most glaring mistake, though, came on Denver’s two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter. Both receivers who were lined up on the right side of the ball crashed down to make their blocks and Sambrailo was to swing outside and block the cornerback, allowing Siemain to run into the end zone on the quarterback keeper. But Sambrailo tripped and missed his block while Siemain not only was tackled short of the goal line but also fumbled the ball.

Here’s what can be said of Sambrailo’s tough day: He played through an injury and at a new position in which he hadn’t lined up at in the NFL. As for Richburg, it sounds like he was playing with some extra energy in a rivalry game and the center believes he was targeted by the umpire. Interesting, indeed.

Of course, these two young men are professionals and each will work to improve on those mistakes, whether they’re mental or physical, and go get ’em next week.

The undefeated Denver Broncos head to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers next week while the Giants head to Minnesota to play the Vikings on Monday Night Football.

As for some positive Next Level Rams news: Both Kapri Bibbs and Shaquil Barrett enjoyed two tackles for the Broncos in the win in Cincy. Also, former Rams linebacker Cory James got the start for the Oakland Raiders and registered seven total tackles, second-most on the team, including one tackle for a loss.

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