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Practice Report 8/6: High Defensive Expectations

Posted Aug 6, 2015

Linebacker James Laurinaitis says the higher expectations for the Rams' defense in 2015 has translated into higher accountability.

The Rams completed their sixth training camp practice on Thursday and with the high expectations for this year’s defense, veteran linebacker James Laurinaitis likes the unit’s direction thus far.

“I’ve seen some really good things and I think today we saw a lot of guys trying to compete,” Laurinaitis said. “I think it’s a great thing for us and I think higher expectations forces higher accountability. Last year we had huge expectations and we came out of the gate slow like we have the last few years.”

The veteran linebacker added the defense talks about the slow starts every day and what can be done to improve in that regard this year.

“We know that all 11 players have to be on the same page to play great team defense,” Laurinaitis said. “To be where we want and where we expect -- and that’s a top five defense -- we have to go out there and really start putting what’s on paper onto the field. To be honest, that’s the big difference in a defense like Seattle who is up there over and over. They do it week in and week out. They’re consistent and we have to figure out how to be consistent.”

Consistency has been a big theme for the defense this offseason and many players have noted Gregg Williams’ return for a second season to be a key component.

“It’s really nice to have the same coordinator,” Laurinaitis said. “It allows you to play fast and the nice thing is we are correcting are little things. We aren’t installing a new defense that guys have never heard before. We’re installing the same stuff from OTAs and stuff we ran last year. It’s the first time in a while where we are able to do that.”

Laurinaitis is also impressed with the talent and depth St. Louis has assembled on defense, specifically noting the number of reliable safeties and corners on the team. He said Williams does a tremendous job of installing multiple packages to fully utilize the unit’s talent.

Head coach Jeff Fisher is also pleased with the overall progress of the team through six practices and is noticing specific improvements from last year.

“We haven’t played anybody else yet and I am not going to put a lot of stake in the first preseason game, but I am pleased with where we are,” Fisher said. “What’s interesting is our on the field practice full-speed penalties are way down compared to where we were last year. … And the discipline of things down the field like the contact, the holding, and the hands to the face -- all those are things that we emphasize and that’s encouraging to me and that will carry over.”

The Rams’ next practice is set to take place at Lindenwood University, which Fisher said will be similar to what the team has done at the Edward Jones Dome in years past. Fisher said the practice traditionally ends in a 10 to 12 play rookie scrimmage.

“We will be in full pads,” Laurinaitis said. “And aside from the special teams practices, it’s where a lot of young guys can make a name. It’s a big opportunity for these kids and it’s their first chance to show who can tackle well, who’s not afraid to get hit, and who can take a hit.”

“I think the guys are excited about the change of venue and a little more intimate place,” Fisher said. “We went by there yesterday and took a tour and it’s a great stadium and it’s in great shape. Even though we are starting at five, the lights will be on. And when you put the lights on Friday night, it’s always a little different.”

ROOKIE OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Fisher also said on Tuesday that he’s pleased with the progression of rookies Rob Havenstein and Jamon Brown.

“You can look at right tackle and the right guard right now and they look like they’ve been here for a while,” Fisher said. “It’s good to have that feeling inside that you have confidence in both Rob and Jamon that they can line up and play and it shows with the pads on that they’re doing it.”

For more on the rookie OLs, keep a look out for a feature on Havenstein and Brown and how they have the potential to grow together for years to come.

ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE v2?

With the NFL Network in town, some of the Rams’ defensive linemen continued acting in line with their earned reputation for pranks. Check out the video below to see why.