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Byron Young's evolved approach helps set up solid NFL debut

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – When he arrived in Los Angeles this spring, Rams rookie outside linebacker Byron Young initially did not have a starting role.

However, over the course of this summer's training camp, that began to change. With each passing day, Young got on the field more and more with L.A.'s first-team defense. He did so well in the role, he seemingly got the starter treatment in the preseason – he played in their opener against the Chargers, then didn't see the field against the Raiders or Broncos.

So, by extension, when Young was on the field staring opposite Michael Hoecht against the Seahawks, it was the product of a change in mindset and routine over the last several months.

"Starting off in the spring, I would definitely (say), I'm still a young guy, but I was a young guy come in, I just was trying to find my way and a routine, a daily routine," Young said earlier this week. "But now it's more like, I'm acting more like a pro. And I'm taking that approach as a pro. And I know, the position I'm in right now. And that, you know, my teammates depend on me, you know, the coaches depend on me, so I gotta, I gotta definitely, I had to learn faster, I'd say, you know, in the spring, I will come late taking baby steps. Now, it's like more, they need me to step up and play a bigger role. You know, that's what I'm trying to do. You know, just do my part for the team."

Whatever preparation he put in leading into Week 1, it clearly paid off. Young tied with defensive tackle Aaron Donald for the fourth-most total tackles on the team against Seattle, and also split his first career sack with nose tackle Kobie Turner.

Young spent the majority of his time at outside linebacker, but there were also a few instances where lined up as a defensive end as another way of taking advantage of his speed and power.

"He has a motor, and it's insane," said Rams rookie offensive lineman Steve Avila, when asked what it's like going against Young in practice. "He's a very, very, very quick and hybrid linebacker. He's very, very quick. He's come around on a couple of twists sometimes, and honestly, if you blink universal. That's exactly how it is."

Playing alongside defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been an added benefit to Young's development. Young said that Donald has taught him a lot since he's been with the Rams and willingly provided tips and advice.

"Every time I rush, he just telling me I gotta sell it better, or I gotta do this and that, different things just to improve my game," Young said.

The Rams will need continued improvement and pressure brought by Young this week against the 49ers, especially with quarterback Brock Purdy's quick release. Purdy completed 65.5% of his passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns in San Francisco's season-opening win at the Pittsburgh Steelers last week.

Knowing how he's being counted on, Young should be ready for the challenge.

"It's just a really good way to start off coaching young guys," Rams defensive coordinator said of Young and nose tackle Kobie Turner's performances. "Their effort, their energy that they brought, the juice, going out there and being able to finish that game like we kind of had hoped with Aaron Donald being the catalyst as a rusher. Those guys being able to rush off him and play off of him, it was a really good look for us."

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