Likely Rams starter suspended one game for substance-abuse violation

By Larry Hartstein | Senior Analyst

Rokevious Watkins played tackle at South Carolina. (USATSI)

Rokevious Watkins, considered the favorite to start at left guard for the Rams, has been suspended for the first game of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

The NFL gave no explanation why Watkins did not receive the typical four-game suspension.

A 2012 fifth-round pick out of South Carolina, Watkins (6-4, 328) started last year's opener despite reporting to camp 16 pounds overweight. He injured his ankle and missed the rest of the season.

Watkins reportedly was in much better shape this year. He can still participate in offseason activities, training camp and preseason games, and is eligible to return Sept. 9, one day after the season opener against Arizona.

In Watkins' absence, Chris Williams, Shelley Smith and rookie Barrett Jones will vie to play left guard on an improved line anchored by tackles Jake Long and Rodger Saffold.

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