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Bringing in Bobby Wagner gives Rams’ defense slightly altered look – NFL Nation

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — At the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl parade in February, All-Pro defensive deal with Aaron Donald stood on the podium to echo coach Sean McVay’s “run it back” chant.

“We built a superteam,” Donald mentioned on the parade. “We’re gonna bring a superteam back! Why not run it back?”

And whereas the Rams made certain they saved their core group of gamers beneath contract for the foreseeable future by remodeling Donald’s contract and signing quarterback Matthew Stafford and huge receiver Cooper Kupp to contract extensions, the defense will look a bit completely different than in Super Bowl LVI.

Los Angeles hoped it may deliver again outdoors linebacker Von Miller, however it could not compete with the six-12 months, $120 million contract he bought from the Buffalo Bills. Instead of searching for one other go-rusher, the Rams seemed so as to add high quality in a unique linebacker place with future Hall of Fame inside linebacker Bobby Wagner.

While Wagner and Miller are clearly not straight swaps in phrases of place or ability set — Miller is a go-rusher with 115.5 sacks, and Wagner is a tackling machine who has averaged 138.3 per season in his 10-12 months profession, together with a profession-excessive 170 final season with the Seattle Seahawks — the Rams as soon as once more added a championship-successful veteran who will deliver management to a roster that misplaced a number of key gamers to retirement or free company since that Super Bowl victory.

Rookie Ernest Jones performed a giant half at center linebacker for the Rams en path to the championship, so it did appear to be an odd match for Wagner in Los Angeles. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris mentioned Wagner, who ought to begin alongside Jones, remains to be “one of those guys that can play every single down.” Morris mentioned the Rams are engaged on what including Wagner means for the defense, however that “all those things will play themselves out as you get into the season and you start game planning.”

“He’s certainly a guy that can go out there all three downs and play every single snap of the season, and it wouldn’t shock me one bit if he was able to do that,” Morris mentioned.

McVay mentioned he observed that Wagner appeared “really comfortable” throughout the spring set up of the Rams’ defense, saying, “It’s still football at the end of the day, and he’s got such a seamless way of being able to build those relationships and he’s such a likable guy.”

“He’s really a pleasure to talk to, to communicate the defense to,” Morris mentioned. “Tell him the whys, the whats, the wheres, the hows. And then to get some input from him also. He does a great job. He’s been in this league for a long time and has been a great presence on command and leadership, so I learn stuff from him every day as well. So I’m really excited about working with him.”

During minicamp, Kupp talked about how “daunting” the defense is, one thing he mentioned will make him higher as a result of he goes up in opposition to the unit each day in observe. The defense has an elite participant on each degree: Donald, Wagner and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

“When you talk about who I believe are three guys that are either locked themselves as Hall of Famers or on track to do so,” Kupp mentioned. “And that’s an incredible thing to have on each level of that defense and the leadership that they have. … It’s a daunting thing. I’m glad it’s just practice and then we get to go against it and practice against it, and it will make things a little bit easier for us.”

The Rams ranked fourth in Football Outsiders’ Defensive DVOA final season — third in opposition to the go and tenth in opposition to the run. There is little room for enchancment. With Wagner, although, the very best could be but to return for the Los Angeles defense.

“When you’ve got that kind of talent all across the board on all levels,” Kupp added, “and you’ve got to include Flo [outside linebacker Leonard Floyd] in that mix and some of the other guys that have played a lot of football for us. It’s just really fun to be around. It’s really fun to get the grasp and the understanding on how we want to do things and how we move forward every single day. So that’s extremely fun to be around.”

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