IRVINE, Calif. – When Jordan Fuller started alongside John Johnson III last season at safety, Johnson's calm demeanor stood out.
"I feel like I'm similar in that way," Fuller said after Friday's practice. "So, I guess I kind of take that from him. He was never rattled. The moment never seemed too big for him."
That key learning for Fuller is as important heading into his second season as it was during his rookie, because after earning a starting role as a rookie, the 2020 sixth-round pick could potentially be taking over for Johnson as the Rams' next defensive signal-caller this year.
The opening came about after Johnson departed and signed with the Browns this offseason. Fuller said he and the coaching staff had some preliminary conversations prior to organized team activities in the spring about taking on the role, then he got to "play around with it" during those practices.
The Rams are still experimenting with candidates for the role in training camp – head coach Sean McVay said there were a few guys they were looking at, including some linebackers – but Fuller is firmly in the mix to wear the green dot on his helmet.
"You do know that Jordan is more than likely, if he continues to just get better and do what he has done since he has gotten here, he's probably going to be a guy that's going to be on the field all three downs," McVay, who also praised Fuller's versatility and understanding of the big picture, said after Los Angeles' first training camp practice. "That's something that John Johnson did a great job, even going back a couple years, (former safety) Eric Weddle did a great job having the green dot."
Fuller made 60 total tackles and three interceptions in 12 games last season, highlighted by eight in a season-opening win over the Cowboys which tied for second in franchise history for total tackles by a Rams rookie in his NFL debut.
His overall performance by the end of the season earned him the team's Carroll Rosenbloom Memorial Award, given to the team's rookie of the year. Over the course of the season, individual plays like the momentum-changing, fourth-down stop in the redzone early in the fourth quarter where he tackled Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb short of the line to gain in the Rams' 20-17 season-opening win last year also helped establish trust with his teammates.
"It's more of a leadership role for him this year," Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said, when asked about Fuller's growth. "He's the guy that's getting us huddled up and giving us the plays now. The year he had last year, he's going to build off that and now growing into a leadership role, he got a lot more pressure, a little bit more on the shoulders, but I think he can handle it. We trust what he can do, his abilities and his leadership. Expecting big things from him."
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey shared similar sentiments. While it's still early in training camp, Ramsey said what Fuller has shown so far are the same things he saw out of the Ohio State product last year.
"I've had a lot of faith in Jordan from the jump, even last training camp," Ramsey said after Thursday's practice. "I love what he brought to the team and I think he's just building on that. He's going to take over a role of leadership, not only for our secondary, but I think for our team and I think he deserves it."
Unsurprisingly, a two-time team captain for the Buckeyes thrice named All-Big Ten during his four-year collegiate career doesn't view such expectations as a burden.
"It's a big honor," Fuller said. "They look to me as somebody who could hold his own and make plays for this team and also be a leader is I mean, it's a it's a huge honor. I just look at it as a way for me to prove people right, honestly. I like those expectations."
Take a look at the best photos from Los Angeles Rams Training Camp practice Day 3 presented by UNIFY Financial Credit Union.