Rookie Defensive Linemen Making Impact

Posted Sep 2, 2015

Though the Rams have a much-heralded group of seasoned D-linemen, rookies Martin Ifedi, Matt Longacre, and Louis Trinca-Pasat have made the most of their preseason opportunities.

The strength of the Rams’ defensive line was no secret heading into training camp and it is touted as one of the best in the NFL. After three preseason games, some of the unit’s newest members are also making plays.

Take a look at the preseason defensive statistics and two of the team’s leaders in tackles are undrafted rookies on the defensive front. Louis Trinca-Pasat, out of Iowa, owns the second spot on the list with 15 total tackles, while Matt Longacre of Northwest Missouri State is tied for third with 13. Even though the rookies are working alongside some of the best defensive linemen in the league, they haven’t gone unnoticed according to head coach Jeff Fisher.

“Both have been really impressive,” Fisher said. “Matt’s playing both ends. Trinca-Pasat’s playing both tackles. They just make plays. They shock and shed people and get off blocks and penetrate and put pressure on the quarterback, so it’s been great to have them here.”

Longacre was named the 2014 NCAA Division-II MIAA Defensive Player of the Year and attributes much of his growth and early success to the veterans and returning linemen.

“It’s been great and I couldn’t have asked for a better situation from that aspect,” Longacre said. “They’re some of the best at their position and whenever I have a question I know I can go up and ask them.”

First-year defensive end Martin Ifedi is also in the mix with seven total tackles of his own, along with two quarterback pressures. Longacre leads the team in that category with six pressures through three preseason games.

Both Longacre and Trinca-Pasat said the time spent practicing and learning under defensive line coach Mike Waufle has been invaluable.

“He’s a true mentor and coach,” Trinca-Pasat said. “Everything I have learned from him since OTAs to this point, I wish I had known in college. I would have been a much better player and it’s helped me improve. His confidence in us helps us have confidence in ourselves, and he gives us the belief that we can play at this level.”

Longacre said Waufle is one of the reasons he wanted to come to St. Louis, he is widely regarded as one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL.

“He’s had a huge impact on me and you can’t put a price on the knowledge he has,” Longacre said. “He’s taught me so much. It’s the little things he shows us that you really don’t think about that go into a pass rush and defending the run. I’ve really seen all of that up my game.”

The fourth preseason game will feature ample snaps for second and third-string players, providing a significant stage before the final roster is set. But the rookies said they know they can’t worry about that.

“My goal is to be the most dominant player I can be and control what I can control,” Trinca-Pasat said. “I just want to make most of the opportunity that’s presented to me and give it my all. I play because I love this game and I enjoy the process. The rest will work itself out.”