In 2020, the Los Angeles Rams had the No. 1 defense in the NFL. Jordan Fuller was an instrumental part of that defense. As a rookie last season, Fuller took the bull by the horn and earned his keep as a strong safety for the Rams.
In order to play with the best, you have to be the best. Fuller has proved that and beyond. Drafted in the sixth round (No. 199) by the Rams in the 2020 NFL Draft, the former Ohio State baller said that being around players like cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman Aaron Donald has helped him with his on-the-job training.
“I’ve just learned what the mentality is to be great, what it is to be great,” Fuller said after an August training camp practice. “That means bringing it every single day. I see Jalen. I see AD [Aaron Donald]. I see Darious Williams, some of the most productive players. First, before anything else, comes the work. So, that’s what I take from them.”
It appears that Fuller has absorbed all of the right things. Instead of blending into the Rams’ defensive schemes, Fuller, like Ramsey and Donald, is now more apt to call plays and shake things up if need be.
“He’s doing a great job in my opinion – calling the plays, getting everybody lined up,” Ramsey said. “I think he has done a great job.”
Fuller was named as one of the team’s eight captains less than two weeks out before the Rams play the Chicago Bears to open up the 2021 regular season in a Sunday night game.
“It means so much,” Fuller said after the Rams wrapped up practice at their training facility on Sept. 2. “It’s probably one of my biggest achievements to this day aside from being voted captain at Ohio State. Yeah, this is huge. Love my teammates, love this team, this organization. They get my all every day. I’m just really grateful that I have been able to gain the respect of my teammates.”
Fuller, Donald, and Ramsey are the team’s captains on defense. Wide receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, quarterback Matthew Stafford, offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, and punter Johnny Hekker are the other Rams captains.
“Captain (Jordan) Fuller. I’m fired up to see him,” Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said. “It’s something that we’re all proud of. The guy’s just even calm, nothing’s going to bother him. (It’s the) type of demeanor that you need to have that green dot.
He’s got great range on the back end. He plays with ultimate confidence.”
Morris adds that Fuller has shown he is teachable which makes his job easier.
“He’s an easy guy to coach and talk to within all of the fiery moments from a coach, from a player, any standpoint, to be able to communicate whatever you need, to communicate it from as far as your group and you just love being around the kid,” Morris said. “You don’t luck into those kinds of kids.”
Fuller’s ascension came at the right time and at the perfect moment for the Rams. After seeing John Johnson III leave the team through free agency to the Cleveland Browns after four stellar seasons, the onus was on someone else in the Rams defensive backfield to step up.
With Johnson gone, Fuller appears to be that guy. However, Fuller hasn’t forgotten the impression that Johnson left on him.
“’JJ’ (John Johnson) always had a calm presence about him,” Fuller said. “I feel like I’m similar in that way. So, I guess I kind of take that from him. He was never rattled. The moment never seemed too big for him. So, I kind of just take that.”
Fuller has also taken a cue from the importance of going through training camp and how he has grown from being under the rookie learning curve to year two as a player.
“I would say camp every year is where you gain the most, in terms of football, knowledge, refining your skills,” said Fuller. “You can really get to lock in whether it’s game planning, in the season, you’re game-planning and focusing on your opponent, where right now you’re kind of focused on yourself and your unit and stuff. That’s why I like camp, honestly.”
Fuller also likes being a leader. It is a trait that he embodies naturally, he said.
“Really, it’s not a conscious thing,” remarked Fuller. “It’s just kind of natural. I’m just myself. I don’t try to be anybody else. Whatever I feel is required of me in the moment, that’s what I do, honestly. So, it’s not really a huge, huge change. It’s just me being me.”
Introducing your 2021 LA Rams team captains. ? pic.twitter.com/rCOrMT13Xo— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 2, 2021
After coming up with 60 tackles (42 solo tackles) and three interceptions in his first year in the league, Fuller said being himself is not adding expectations by others to define his play on the field.
“I’m just excited for this year,” Fuller said. “I always expect a lot of myself. Nobody expects more out of me than me.”
Having a year of NFL life under his belt has made his production expectancy a little easier, Fuller added.
“Everything is not as new, just getting comfortable,” Fuller said. “I’ve found my routine I feel like and just sticking with it…That’s the biggest difference, it’s not as new.”
Ramsey has taken notice of how much Fuller has progressed from last season to now.
“Jordan (Fuller) – just growth, continued growth,” Ramsey said. “Last year during training camp, I was very impressed with him and what he came in and did immediately as a rookie and this year he’s just building upon that.”
Being named captain is not something that should be taken lightly. It’s a privilege. It’s an honor that is not likely to be bestowed to a young player like Fuller, Morris said.
“It’s really rare,” Morris said. “You’re talking about a special human, though. You’re talking about a guy that stepped in. I forget what round he was actually drafted, maybe six. He came in at a sixth-round pick and then be able to come in to become a starter, go through some adversity, fight through an injury, be able to bounce back. Now you come back, attack another offseason.
“You attack the offseason with a new coach on defense, somebody you got to help out and somebody you got to teach how to communicate with you,” Morris continued. “Then you meet with that guy and you get a chance to bond with them during training camp, to watch him grow with his team. His team voted him as a captain. That is extremely special and extremely rare. It says it all about the young man.”