THOUSAND OAKS — Ernest Jones understands the times of NFL groups constantly enjoying two or extra inside linebackers are fading, however the Rams’ second-year linebacker desires to carry again the smashmouth method that Ray Lewis and different legends performed with earlier than defenses advanced to maintain tempo in right this moment’s pass-heavy league.
“I wish to make the sport for the linebackers again to the way it was,” Jones mentioned. “Enable us to go run round, hit, make the performs that come to us and those that don’t come to us. That’s the massive factor to me, to point out that we are able to nonetheless do all of it. We don’t simply want DB (defensive again) our bodies. You may nonetheless go freaking deal with, run, go cowl passes, do all of it.”
Doing all of it is what retains inside linebackers on the sphere these days and why center linebacker Bobby Wagner constructed a Corridor of Fame-quality profession with the Seattle Seahawks for 10 seasons earlier than becoming a member of Jones and the Rams this season.
Wagner will seemingly keep on the sphere when the Rams go into their dime bundle, a formation with six defensive backs and one inside linebacker. That may most likely take snaps from Jones, however the Rams will seek for methods to make sure their younger linebacker is closely concerned with the protection.
Jones stepped up in Tremendous Bowl LVI towards the Cincinnati Bengals after Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris made the second-half adjustment to blitz Jones a handful of instances, creating fixed stress on quarterback Joe Burrow and resulting in seven workforce sacks, together with one from Jones.
“That was one thing that I had been doing all through the season, was blitzing,” Jones mentioned. “Simply all through the Tremendous Bowl, we felt there was a necessity and there was a very massive mismatch so far as them blocking me. … Coaches began sending me extra within the second half.”
Jones’ old-school bodily play type helped the Rams change into Tremendous Bowl champions, however he desires to proceed creating as an all-around linebacker, and having Wagner by his aspect has helped with that.
“In a way, I feel my function has gotten greater with him coming in,” Jones mentioned. “I feel we each established that there are two good linebackers on the workforce that they wish to preserve out right here on the sphere. However in a way, I don’t really feel like my function has lessened. I really feel like for me it’s simply getting higher, simply persevering with to develop. And once I’m on the market with him, let’s go dominate.”
The Rams may choose to maintain Jones and Wagner on the sphere usually to offset their lack of go rushers. The workforce is hoping the mixture of Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis shall be sufficient to assist prime outdoors linebacker Leonard Floyd and fill the void of Von Miller, who joined the Buffalo Payments in free company. Wagner and Jones usually rushed the passer in coaching camp, and can seemingly do the identical Thursday to begin the season towards quarterback Josh Allen and his gifted Payments offense.
“I feel me and Bobby have accomplished an important job coming in, doing the issues essential to rush the passer, simply create mismatches and permit us to go on the market and win,” Jones mentioned. “Impact the sport in not solely run protection and go protection, but in addition dashing the passer from outdoors place to dashing versus operating backs.”
The sport has modified, however the Rams have a mix of smashmouth and flexibility from their duo at inside linebacker. Jones refers to Wagner because the Ray Lewis of this era and he nonetheless smiles each time he’s reminded of being Wagner’s teammate.
“For me, that is loopy, he’s the Ray Lewis of our era,” Jones mentioned. “There’s no person who’s been higher within the final 10, 11 years.”
STAFFORD GOOD TO GO
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford reiterated that he could have no limitations for Thursday evening’s season opener towards the Buffalo Payments regardless of experiencing elbow soreness in his throwing arm.
“I really feel good,” Stafford mentioned Sunday. “I’m able to go, no limitations. I really feel nice. I’m able to go play. … I really feel actually good. I really feel like I may make each throw. Don’t know what else you could hear from me.”
Rams coach Sean McVay mentioned he is not going to hesitate to name 50-plus throws for Stafford in a sport this season if that’s what it takes for the workforce to win.
Stafford, 34, was a restricted participant for 2 weeks throughout coaching camp to handle the arm soreness, however the 14th-year quarterback confirmed no indicators of limitations by making quite a lot of spectacular throws all through the summer time. Stafford additionally handled arm soreness final season en path to main the Rams to a Tremendous Bowl championship.
“I’m not (involved),” McVay mentioned. “I feel we’ve received a very good plan in place. No totally different actually from final yr. These are issues that he was type of working by means of in his personal approach, however you all the time wish to be cognizant of a pitch rely. However he’s feeling pretty much as good as … I inform you what, he’s thrown the ball wonderful. He feels good. Every thing that I’m seeing is reflective of every little thing he’s saying to me. I really feel superb about that.
“Can’t look again on the previous. It’s one thing that shall be similar to final yr. It’s probably not something that’s totally different.”
Stafford and the Rams aren’t involved in regards to the elbow soreness and so they’re making an attempt every little thing they’ll to restrict the ache.
“I may all the time be higher at making an attempt to really feel like I’m 21 once more,” Stafford jokingly mentioned. “I’ll preserve making an attempt.”
Extensive receiver Van Jefferson, who underwent knee surgical procedure final yr, didn’t apply Sunday. McVay mentioned they’re taking it day-by-day along with his restoration course of. …
The Rams had their “Wednesday apply” of Week 1 underneath scorching circumstances that reached 104 levels Sunday in Thousand Oaks.
“It’s one thing on the market proper now,” McVay mentioned. “The one factor that’ll change is that we’ll get much more hydration breaks than regular. Our guys dealt with it rather well, however golly, it’s thick on the market. However our guys did an important job within the walk-through. We gained’t change something when it comes to our rhythm and routine. We simply may add a pair extra hydration breaks.”
— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) September 4, 2022