THOUSAND OAKS (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Rams have a lot of playmakers on their defense. Let’s start with two: Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Throw in linebacker Leonard Floyd, linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day and A’Shawn Robinson, and safety Jordan Fuller, and you have yourself a nice defensive unit.
Well, if you add newly acquired edge rusher specialist Von Miller to the equation, the Rams could potentially have the premier disruptive defensive unit in the NFL.
To Rams rookie linebacker Ernest Jones, Miller joining the team means an automatic boost to a defense that is currently 12th in overall defense through the team’s first eight games.
“It means a lot,” Jones said after a team practice. “I know he’s going to add a lot to our defense. We’re just expecting big things out of him, just expecting us to continue to elevate our play, and you know, hopefully, he’ll help us with that.”
Jones said there are aspects of Miller’s game that he hopes to pick up and learn from in order to be a better defender.
“Pass rushing, moves, just anything in general about the passing rushing game,” Jones remarked. “Just the game in general. He’s been around for a while, so he has knowledge of areas that I don’t have knowledge in. I can learn anything from him.”
When it comes to knowledge, Jones considers himself to be fortunate to be around a group of players like Donald, Floyd, or Ramsey to help him improve and get in step with the NFL learning curve.
“They just show you how to go about your day, go about your business,” Jones said. “They’re always doing everything to take care of their bodies. I’ve learned a lot of that from them.”
Since this is his rookie campaign, that learning curve for Jones has been one drip at a time. The former South Carolina star was selected by the Rams with the 103rd overall pick in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The potential of what Jones can do (as well as financial reasons) helped make Kenny Young expendable. Just a week before the Rams traded for Miller, the team shipped Young out to the Denver Broncos.
Jones is just starting to get his wings underneath his shoes. Interestingly enough, the Rams trade for Miller took place a day after Jones’ best day as a pro. In the Rams’ 38-22 win against the Houston Texans, Jones recorded nine tackles, seven of them solo.
His other big game was in Week 6 against the New York Giants. In the Rams’ 38-11 win, Jones mustered five total tackles, three of them solo. With the Rams going up against the San Francisco 49ers in a Monday Night Football matchup, you can expect Jones to be in the mix.
Against the Texans, Jones was in on 54 defensive snaps. And in the team’s 28-16 home loss to the Tennessee Titans, Jones got in on 36 snaps. For Jones to be part of that many defensive snaps means he has arrived at the level where his coaches trust his abilities to step up and make plays.
Early in the season, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris discussed with reporters how he talks to young players like Jones and Bobby Brown III on finding their niche.
“You know, it’s funny. I just got finished doing a little counseling myself this week,” Morris said before the Rams would take on the Chicago Bears in Week 1. “When you talk to those young players that you’re going to be counting on, at some point, you want to get those guys a routine and you want to get those guys in position to put themselves in a routine this week, and what it looks like for the season, and how they’re going to move moving forward.”
Morris continued, “And I told those guys, ask some of these veterans on our teams, like a (S Jordan) Fuller who has gone through it just last year. ‘What would you tell your rookie self and how can I use that and go back and use that right now to help me?’ Go ask a (S) Taylor Rapp, ‘What would you tell your rookie self right now if I was (LB) Ernest (Jones) or if I was a (DL) Bobby Brown?’ or some of those types of guys and get that information from it and use it from them.”
For his part, Jones said that the season has come along at a good pace.
“I think that it’s coming along pretty well, just continuing to grow,” Jones said. “I’m still having my little hiccups every now and then. Just constant growth and just continuing to get better is what I’m going for.”
When it comes to experiencing the occasional bumps in the road that he has dealt with this season as he describes, Jones said he manages to push through with a dose of positivity.
“Just knowing that you gotta keep going, knowing that there is an end goal,” Jones said. “Throughout, there are going to be hiccups. Just going on and continuing to play, and that it’ll even itself out.”
Beginning with training camp, Jones said studying veterans as they went about their routine in prepping for the season has been instrumental for him in how and what to do as an NFL player.
“Mainly just watching the older guys and how they do things, watching guys at my position and how they’re excelling in what they’re doing,” stated Jones. “And then just watching a lot of film and working my butt off…those are the things that I did to kind of get ready for this moment.”
The moment has arrived for Jones. And if he plays anywhere close to the level that Hall of Famer Ray Lewis played at, his all-time favorite linebacker, Jones will have a pretty nice career. Now, what does it mean for Jones to be a Los Angeles Ram?
“It means a lot,” Jones said. “I’m thankful and grateful to be here. I love this city, love the fans and it just means a lot. [There] is no better place…wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here.”
Featured Image Caption: Los Angeles Rams linebacker Ernest Jones (50) ready for action. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline