McIntosh Enters the Mix

Posted Jul 31, 2012

In some ways, Roger “Rocky” McIntosh might have been pre-destined to play for the Rams; at least that’s how he sees it now that he’s a part of the organization.

With a middle name that he refuses to divulge, McIntosh does acknowledge that his middle initial is an A, which means his initials are indeed R.A.M.

“That’s kind of funny since I am playing for the Rams and my initials are Roger A. McIntosh,” McIntosh said. “I am proud to be a Ram.”

Dubbed Rocky by his grandmother when he was a youngster because she believed he would one day be hard headed, McIntosh signed with the Rams as a free agent from Washington on the final day of the final minicamp back in the spring.

With a clear need at the outside linebacker position, McIntosh represented one of the most accomplished free agents on the market after he spent six years with the Redskins in various roles. Along with him, McIntosh brings an impressive resume of production and experience with 471 tackles, eight sacks and three interceptions in 92 games.

“We wanted some depth, and we wanted to improve the competition at the outside linebacker spot,” Fisher said. “Rocky has some familiarity with the system from Washington. He’s just a talented player. He’s athletic and he’s got very good strength. He’s a smart player and felt like he had a chance to fit into this system. He’s also been a very productive special teams guy. He wanted the opportunity to come in here and just have a chance to compete and make the team. It felt like the perfect fit for us.”

Determining precisely where McIntosh will fit in for the Rams is a process that will play out through the course of this training camp though for now he’s actually getting work at both outside linebacker positions.

Of course, McIntosh believes he’s capable of playing any of the three linebacker spots after doing as much for the Redskins. Early in his career, McIntosh actually played in the same defense the Rams now run under Gregg Williams in Washington.

In that scheme, McIntosh worked mostly as a weak side linebacker before he kicked inside when the Redskins changed coaching staffs and went to a 3-4 alignment. McIntosh played inside in the 3-4 for most of that time.

Not that it matters much to McIntosh either way but he does readily acknowledge that playing on the outside makes better use of his ability to run around and make plays.

“It just so happens when I was playing outside it was a little bit more fun, a little bit more aggressive,” McIntosh said. “When you slide over to the 3-4 you are just making tackles. Once you switch over to the other system it was oh man, I am getting my tackles. You pick your poison, whatever it is I think we did a good job of doing it and kept our defenses highly ranked.”

The Rams seemingly have openings at both outside linebacker positions next to middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. They added McIntosh along with fellow free agent outside linebackers Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Mario Haggan as well as using a seventh-round draft choice on Aaron Brown and signing a variety of undrafted rookie linebackers.

McIntosh is currently working behind Haggan (strong side) and Dunbar (weak side) and learning both positions. For the most part, he remembers the essential concepts of the defense but is still brushing up on some of the terminology that has changed since he last played in this scheme.

Arriving on the final day of minicamp didn’t allow for much time to brush up but McIntosh said he’s made the most of his time since, even going so far as the set up de facto practices in his backyard.

“I’m a big note taker so I had tons of notes,” McIntosh said. “I would set up some cones in my back yard and had some of my teammates that were out of work or something come out there and practice with me. So you know, I kept myself in the mix. The terminology has changed a little bit but the scheme is still the same.”
Considering McIntosh’s resume, it’s strange to think he was on the open market as long as he was but McIntosh was one of those players who found himself in free agency limbo the past few years because of uncertainty surrounding the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

McIntosh seemed poised to hit the market coming off some of his most productive seasons but the lack of a CBA agreement kept him from the opportunity to get his bite of the apple.

“It is what it is,” McIntosh said. “I can’t complain. I have just got to come out here and put my best foot forward and try to help this team.”

McIntosh took visits and had discussions with Minnesota and Miami before opting for St. Louis. In the Rams, McIntosh saw plenty of opportunity to win a job, had previous relationships with some of the other linebackers and wanted the chance to play for Fisher.

The possibility exists that McIntosh could go into the season as a backup, something he hasn’t done much of in his career but he doesn’t mind so long as he gets a chance to prove himself.

“Even as a starter I will always think that nobody’s spot is solid because somebody can get hurt, somebody might not perform well,” McIntosh said. “Everybody has to play hard and try to get out there on the field. Whatever they need me to play I should be able to do it.”
PADDING UP: League rules stipulate that teams can’t start having fully padded practices until they have had three full practices in their training camp. In other words, upon the completion of Tuesday’s practice, the Rams are now free to put on the pads.

They will do just that on Wednesday, though only for a special teams practice before everyone straps on the pads on Thursday for the first full squad practice in pads. Both practices will be closed to the public but Fisher and Co. is excited to get back in the pads and start doing some real hitting.

“Yeah, we are,” Fisher said. “We’ve got the ‘rooks’ in the pads and got the big guys an opportunity to do some pass rush and things, and that’s what it’s about. Clearly, the defense has the advantage right now. Anytime you go through team drills without pads because it’s hard for the offense to anchor. Once pads go on, then things start to even out a little bit.”

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers appeared to tweak his ankle in the opening practice Sunday but he bounced back fine Monday and Tuesday and is showing no ill-effects from the injury.

In fact, Brockers has made a strong impression on Fisher and is already taking reps with the first-team defense.

“He’s picking everything up mentally,” Brockers said. “He came back in really good shape, his strength is good, he’s not making mistakes, and it’s just a matter of waiting until we get the pads on. We’re going to get him in the preseason games and see how he can compete against starting offensive lines.”

WATKINS COMING ALONG: Guard Rokevious Watkins hasn’t been able to go through a full practice yet after being unable to complete required conditioning tests in a satisfactory way upon reporting.

But in the past few days, Watkins has moved closer to being back full speed, including participating in some individual drills.

“We’re working him back in,” Fisher said. “The hope is to get him into individual period and he’s doing a lot inside. He’s doing well and hopefully in the next few days he’ll get back and we’ll work him back into practice. He’s a strong young player and he’s a little bit behind because he’s missed, but we’ll try to get him caught up.”

UNDER THE SUN:  While many teams around the league take advantage of the morning time for practices to help avoid the heat, Fisher prefers to practice in the afternoon.

All of the Rams’ practices for this year’s camp are scheduled for the late afternoon, when the sun is hottest but Fisher has his reasons for scheduling that way.

“You’re not going to play games in the morning,” Fisher said. “Our preference is to get up, get going, make sure you’ve got at least a couple of meals in you. We’re trying to take care of the nutrition-type things and hydration-type things, and make sure you’re warmed up. In addition to that - in our studies - the injury rates, the pull histories were greater in the morning practices than they were in the afternoon practices.”