We are going to be previewing every position on the Rams here at the eve of training camp. Now we are on to the defensive side of the ball. Next up are the defensive ends with their listed position left out as the Rams will move their LBs all over the field in 2009.
Witherspoon has been playing MLB for the Rams for the past two seasons, but he will slide over to weakside linebacker this season. That will allow him to use his athletic ability to rush the passer and make plays in space. Both of which he is better at than shedding blockers at middle linebacker. Witherspoon is a talented player and hopefully the Rams will use his talents best on the weak side (away from the tight end).
More LBs after the jump!
James Laurinaitis was a highly touted 3-year starter at MLB out of the Ohio State University and the Rams were lucky enough to snag him at the top of the 2nd round. He is a strong, fast and instinctual player who led a dominating defense at OSU. It is only a matter of time until Laurinaitis is the Rams starter at middle linebacker and one of the captains of the Rams squad and leader of the defense.
Chris Draft is currently working with the first team at middle linebacker, but looks like he will be thrown into the mix for the competition at strongside linebacker where the Rams do not have a incumbent starter. Draft is a solid player and he was able to add a measure of stability to the Rams linebacker corps when he replaced Quinton Culberson in the starting lineup at strongside linebacker in 2008. He’s a veteran and you know exactly what he is going to bring to the table.
Mr. Irrelevant from the 2008 NFL draft is also another player who is competing for the starting position at strongside linebacker. He played well in his rookie season, even earning a start at MLB when Witherspoon was out injured. He did look at times out of his element, but he showed signs that he could be a good player in the NFL. He will have that chance in 2009 if he can beat out Grant and Draft.
Culberson was signed as a free agent after the 2007 NFL draft and was one of the bright spots in 2007. He started out the 2008 season as the starter at strongside linebacker and was quickly overwhelmed and out of position during the regular season. However, he was able to finally adapt after returning to the lineup because of injury. He could be a good player at either outside linebacker position, but will probably find himself the backup at both in 2009.
Larry Grant has played besides James Laurinaitis before when both were members of the Buckeyes of Ohio State and Grant would like to renew that partnership. He is competing with Vobora and Draft for the starting slot at strongside linebacker. Grant was nabbed off of San Francisco’s practice squad (I’m sensing a trend here) in 2008 and played in 2 games.
Chris Chamberlain was drafted before David Vobora in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL draft, so he does not have the honor to be called Mr. Irrelevant, but he is very relevant with the Rams as he featured on special teams and made a few plays with the first team in his rookie season. Chamberlain is a little undersized for a linebacker and there is some questions about whether he should be converted to strong safety. However, Chamberlain will continue what he started in 2008 by playing on special teams and backing up the weakside linebacker position.
Asiodu was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Rams after the 2009 NFL draft. He played his last year at Central Oklahoma after 3 years at UNLV. He is a good athlete with great speed and will hope to find a place on the Rams on special teams.
Douglas is another undrafted free agent from the 2009 NFL draft trying to make his way onto the Rams roster. He led Mississippi State in tackles in 2008 and will look to compete for a special teams roster spot or a spot on the practice squad.