Brockers Healthy, Productive in Standout Second Season

Posted Oct 16, 2013

Jeff Fisher did not mince words when describing the performance of DT Michael Brockers in the Rams’ 38-13 win over Houston on Sunday. The Rams’ head coach, who is often conservative and measured in praise of his players, chose not shy away from hyperbole when the subject was Brockers.

“This particular game was his best game to date as a Ram,” Fisher said. “He was very, very good. Very productive – run game, pass game, effort, pressure. He was the clearly the best tackle on the field,” Fisher said.

The numbers concur with Fisher’s assessment. Playing in his hometown of Houston for the first time as a professional, Brockers collected a career-high two sacks against the Texans, to go along with seven total tackles, including three for a loss. While the defensive line struggled as a unit at times with the run game at Houston, Brockers was a consistent bright spot.

Brockers, who arrived in St. Louis last season after being chosen with the 14th overall pick in the 2012 draft, is making the impact the Rams’ brass envisioned for him, a level of production that was initially delayed due to injury in his rookie season. Brockers was limited to 13 games in 2012 due to an ankle injury suffered during the final preseason game. Once healthy, the 6’5, 326-pound Brockers was a force, leading all Rams tackles with four sacks. He hasn’t slowed down since, and is quickly growing into the promise that he showed as a blue-chip prospect at Louisiana State University.

Brockers enters this week second among all first-round defensive tackles from his draft class in sacks since the start of last season with 7.5, and credits his quick start to this season to his improved health and the confidence that comes with it.

“When you don’t have nagging injuries, you’re going to be able to play a little bit better,” Brockers said. I’m not as tentative this year as I was last year. I’m not afraid of getting cut and stuff like that. Being able to turn the corner on that ankle, and have no bone spur, no high ankle (sprain), it’s been 1,000 percent better.”

Perhaps the best measure of both Brockers’ production and his health is shown in the volume of time he has logged on the field. Brockers was on the field for 55 of the Rams’ 73 defensive snaps against Houston, more than any other Rams defensive lineman.

The 22-year-old Brockers is the youngest of a talented Rams defensive front that includes three first round picks, joining defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Of that group, only the 28-year-old Long has reached his 25th birthday, an encouraging thought for a defensive front that helped the Rams lead the NFL with 52 sacks a year ago.

“We haven’t even seen the tip yet,” Brockers said of the potential production of the Rams’ defensive line. There are little technical things we need to get better at, and we are young. We just haven’t even seen that peak yet. By the end of the season or whatever down the road, we’ll see it.”