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Rams bolster O-line by signing Titans' guard Bell

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams have begun rebuilding their offensive line, signing free agent guard Jacob Bell to a six-year contract.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Bell, signed Monday, played for the Titans the last four seasons after being a fourth-round draft pick of the Titans in 2004. He has started 31 games the last two seasons, settling in at left guard last season, and has made 46 career starts and played in 55 games in four seasons.

The Rams finished the year with three offensive line starters on injured reserve, a major reason for the team's offensive struggles in a 3-13 season. The Rams totaled 263 points, the franchise's lowest total since 1993, and quarterback Marc Bulger was sidelined twice for two games each with broken ribs and a concussion.

St. Louis turned its attention to Bell after losing out in the bidding for former Steelers guard Alan Faneca, who got a five-year, $40 million contract with the Jets. Bell, who turned 27 on Sunday, was signed after making a visit to St. Louis earlier in the day.

"All along we liked two guys in the interior line in free agency and we got one of them," coach Scott Linehan said. "Jacob wanted to be here, he wanted to make the visit. He wanted to be with the Rams."

Seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace was lost for the season with a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff sustained in the season opener, and Mark Setterstrom and Richie Incognito were sidelined with knee injuries.

Setterstrom, a seventh-round pick in 2006, was the starting left guard before being injured. The position has been unsettled the last four seasons.

Much of the season, the team filled in with retreads. A top backup, Todd Steussie, couldn't be plugged into the lineup until late in the season after breaking his foot in the preseason.

There's uncertainty surrounding Pace, who has finished the last two seasons on injured reserve.

That's where Bell fits in.

"This is a tremendous athlete who plays well against great competition," Linehan said. He showed that against the best linemen in the AFC South. He should be a mainstay in our offensive line for several years."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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