Entering his seventh season, defensive lineman Michael Brockers is now one of the longest-tenured Rams. In fact, no one on the defense has been around longer than the LSU product, who was selected No. 14 overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.
After starting 2017 as a nose tackle, Brockers slid over to 3-4 defensive end during the Week 4 victory over the Cowboys. He excelled playing as a five technique for the first time since high school, finishing fifth on the team with 65 total tackles. He also racked up eight tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, eight quarterback hits, and four pass breakups in his first year under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
A veteran leader of the defense, head coach Sean McVay said this week that Brockers is, "a natural leader where guys kind of want to follow him. He's got something about him that's special."
After the Rams' first practice in pads, Brockers answered eight questions for therams.com.
1) How has 2018 training camp gone so far?
It's going good, going good. We've been having some good battles back and forth. You like to see what we did today — hard-fought practices, battling. Offense wins some periods, defense wins some periods. So it's a good camp so far.
2) What is the biggest difference between where you were last year and where you are this year at this point?
Last year we were learning the system, now we know the system and we're grinding and learning the final details. That's what we're doing for the most part. A lot of the new additions — Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib — they're catching on fast. So it's just about learning the finer details within each and every play.
Check out some of the top shots from Day 5 of 2018 Rams Training Camp.
3) Fellow lineman Ndamukong Suh said the other day that defensive coordinator Wade Philips plans on moving all of you defensive lineman around a lot. How comfortable are you feeling with that?
Really comfortable because that's what you prepare for when you play left and right, and you've been playing nose, and three-[technique], and five-[technique] over these seven years — you're kind of prepared for everything. So for us, it's a challenge learning both sides, learning to rush from both sides. So I think it'll help us in the long run. People won't know what packages we're in.
4) You're going to get more opportunities to rush the passer this year than you have in the past based on the position you're now playing. Are you looking to really take advantage of that?
Yeah, for the most part, because I've been putting a lot of stress on myself, just critiquing my rushes, using my hands, so I can be a better pass rusher for this defense. If I know I'm going to get those one-on-ones, I have to win them. So I've been putting stress on myself, getting better.
5) When you say "putting stress" on yourself, do you mean losing weight? Or just working on technique?
A little bit, but for the most where I was last year is where they want me. So just staying around where I'm at — about 305, 300 — and just going. Just learning how to use my hands better, learning how to get upfield. In the five, it's a little bit more space. So you have a little bit more freedom. So learning how to work in space, because you're getting so close in the 'three' you get used to being in a box. So learning to rush with space.
6) Has that been much of an adjustment, working in space? How much do you like it?
This is my first time being in a five-technique since high school. So it almost feels new to me. I've just got to keep working at it, keep getting back into it, working my moves, stuff like that. But I like working in the phone booth. It's what I've been doing for the last six years. So it's newer, but it's coming.
7) One of the aspects of training camp is building chemistry. Given your role as a defensive leader, how much do you feel like you're a part of making the team jell?
I don't know, man. Just lead by example, no let offs. Just bring everybody else in. We try not to make it, "This is my team, this is his team." This is our team. You know? We're all putting in the work to win games. So as long as we're doing that, that's all we can ask for. It's the "We not me."
8) What are your goals for the rest of camp?
Focusing on my little details. Learning the playbook a little bit finer, understanding how Suh plays — understanding how they want me to play. Now that I'm starting in this position, I know what I'm doing. So it's just going out there, learning the finer details within each play, and being productive.