Rams tackle Isaiah Battle playing catchup but focused on 2015

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Approximately two months behind the four other rookie offensive linemen the St. Louis Rams added this offseason, offensive tackle Isaiah Battle has plenty of catching up to do.

In what was a whirlwind offseason in which Battle became the father to a little girl and went to the Rams for a fifth-round pick in the NFL's supplemental draft, Battle hasn't really had much time to adjust to the reality of the NFL. He's even dreaming of winning a title that's not awarded at the end of the season.

"It will be very competitive but the guys we drafted are great people," Battle said. "They want to help me, they know it's teamwork to get on board and try to win that national championship."

You know what they say, a championship by any other name ...

On a more serious note, one can understand why Battle might not be as tuned into all things NFL just yet. The Rams drafted him on July 9 after Battle opted to enter the supplemental draft.

That means Battle had no chance to participate in organized team activities or any of the offseason program. Even after the Rams drafted him, Battle couldn't come to set up shop in St. Louis because his daughter was born on July 17.

To hear Battle tell it, making that adjustment to becoming a father might actually make his transition to the NFL look easy by comparison.

"It was tough," Battle said. "At the beginning, I got no sleep. I was in the hospital with me and my girlfriend and it was hard. She was in the bed hurting because she had a C-section, so I had to do most of the work. It was very hard, crying every 30 minutes. It makes me look forward to grinding more. I have got more ahead of me so it's a great feeling."

When Battle did finally get his chance to come to St. Louis, he sat down for a crash course from assistant line coach Andy Dickerson. Battle took a quick weekend to return to spend time with his daughter before returning to report for training camp with his rookie teammates last week.

At the time the Rams drafted Battle, general manager Les Snead referred to 2015 as a "redshirt" year for Battle, the implication being that he won't contribute in 2015. But coach Jeff Fisher offered a different perspective on what is expected of Battle in his first season.

"He's got some work to do, as we've told him," Fisher said. "It's not about next September, it's about this September. If he's on the roster, if he's on the 53, he's a couple of snaps away from playing, so he's got to get himself into shape and get ready. Thus far he's done pretty good. He's clearly behind the rest of the group just because he hasn't been here, but in the short period of time I think he's holding his own. We'll see how it is the next couple of weeks."

Battle was primarily a left tackle at Clemson but played on the right side during his sophomore year. For now, he's getting work at both spots and likely lags behind veteran Garrett Reynolds as the top backup at tackle. Still, the Rams won't likely have the luxury of putting Battle through waivers to get him to the practice squad and risk losing a fifth-round pick in exchange for nothing.

At 6-foot-7, 290 pounds, Battle certainly looks the part but it will undoubtedly be difficult for him to catch up as quickly as he'd need to in order to push Rob Havenstein for the starting right tackle job. But the Rams believe Battle has what it takes to eventually turn into a starter. Which is why they're encouraging him to push the envelope as much as possible in Year 1.

Even if that doesn't yield immediate playing time, the more Battle can sharpen his learning curve, the sooner he can make an impact.

"Honestly, they told me if I can put the work in and I can be able to learn fast, I'll be able to play," Battle said. "That's basically what they said. I have just got to take my baby steps because people have been here two months earlier than me and I've got to learn and get faster. It's all part of the process."