Schlereth clarifies comments, criticizes staff

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

ESPN's Mark Schlereth, under fire from Rams general manager Billy Devaney for saying the team isn't competing, meant simply that they weren't competitive.

101ESPN St. Louis has the latest audio.

"I hurt Billy's feelings," Schlereth said. "It wasn't intentional, but I did."

Schlereth said he called Devaney and explained himself, and that the conversation went well. Devaney was with the Redskins when the team drafted Schlereth in 1989.

"I apologize to Billy for the way it came out," Schlereth said.

Schlereth said he has watched every snap of the Rams this season.

"I'm a guy who has done my homework," he said. "Are they playing hard? Certainly. Are they the most talented team? Absolutely not."

Schlereth stood by his remark that the Rams were in shambles, noting that any 0-2 team would qualify for that description. Schlereth also took issue with the Rams' decision to move rookie Jason Smith to right tackle, with Alex Barron moving to left tackle.

Schlereth: "When you take a right tackle, a guy who has been a pretty solid right tackle, and you move him over to left tackle, which he has never been very good at, and then you take the guy you drafted to be your left tackle and you put him at right tackle, that to me is taking one problem -- breaking in a rookie at left tackle -- and creating two problems. That is not smart football. That is not a good decision. ...

"Alex Barron is a pretty good right tackle. He has been an average, at best, left tackle. People act like it's a foregone conclusion that you can just put your hand in a right-handed stance, play an entire stance, and flip it to the other side. I know I went from playing right guard with the Washingotn Redskins for six years to flipping over to the left side and it took me a solid season, season and a half, to feel comfortable. And as a matter of fact, you know what, I ended up playing left guard in a right-handed stance the whole time because I could never get in a left-handed stance. It just wasn't comfortable for me. It's so hard.

"And people just act like it's a foregone conclusion. I always tell people, 'You know what, it's like asking David Ortiz, who is a lefty, to bat left all year long and then come playoff time say he, 'Now, you know what we want you to do? Switch hit. This guy is a left-handed pitcher. Get to the right side of the plate.' It's just not that easy."

Schlereth also said he thought Smith would have more success on the left side because he played in an upright stance at Baylor and left tackle lends itself more to that style of play. I would agree with the contention that Smith should be a left tackle for the long term. Using the second overall choice for a right tackle doesn't make as much sense.