Rams OTAs: Defense getting up to speed 

THOUSAND OAKS (News4usonline) – The defense for the Los Angeles Rams has a lot of new faces. There is no Bobby Wagner. Jalen Ramsey is no longer part of the Rams’ secondary. Other holdovers from a team that finished 5-12 are out of the picture, either via free agency or being outright released. 

All-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald is still holding down the fort, but he has not made an appearance yet for OTAs (Organized Team Activities), which is voluntary.  With all of this purging going on, the Rams look different on defense. 

Los Angeles Rams rookie linebacker Byron Young (0) goes through OTA drills. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline
Los Angeles Rams rookie linebacker Byron Young (0) goes through OTA drills. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Los Angeles used the 14 draft picks it had to bag some fresh talent. With younger and fresher legs, the downhill speed of the Rams on defense looks to be faster. 

To Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, that speed is mostly determined by how quickly players can grasp what they need to know in order to make plays. In layman’s terms, for rookies and veteran players alike, that means digesting the playbook for that speed to be maximized. 

“Right now looks good, you know on paper (laughs), but obviously you guys work on a play and how you play, it really determines the speed,” Morris said after a practice during the team’s second week of doing OTAs. 

“Speed is based on the knowledge you’re able to obtain and how fast you’re able to play with the things that you know so you got to go out there and apply that thing,” Morris added. “I don’t know what time the forties say, but I know that when you get guys to play fast and run fast to the ball, your speed, your team definitely looks better.”

Donald, along with safety Jordan Fuller and linebackers Ernest Jones and Michael Hoecht, are expected to be the main forces for the Morris and the Rams on defense this season. But you can expect LA’s defensive unit to be driven by a lot of players with limited NFL experience. 

Half of the rookie class for the Rams went to the defensive side of the ball. Two of the team’s first three picks (linebacker Byron Young, and defensive tackle Kobie Turner) in the 2023 NFL Draft went to the defensive side of the ball. The early impression Morris has of the team’s rookies is that there is already buy-in to what the Rams are trying to do.  

“It’s actually just about really the rookies on the team and us building them and letting them grow,” Morris said. “We got a bunch of receptive guys. I love that. A lot of guys really getting what you thought they would be from an evaluation standpoint, from the coach’s livelihood and really getting really good information from our scouts and what they were before they got to us and it’s really helping us coach these guys now. 

“You just kind of love that, you go with that process. But it’s really unique here, particularly with this year with this football team, so it’s kind of fun.”