INGLEWOOD, Calif. – In a four-play sequence, Rams outside linebacker Chris Garrett reminded everyone of what made him such an intriguing prospect coming out of Division II Concordia St. Paul.
A 6-yard tackle for loss, followed by splitting a sack with defensive lineman Jonah Williams two plays later. He then used the long arms on his 6-foot-4 frame to deflect a pass before finishing off the drive with a sack-forced fumble on third down.
By the end of Saturday night's preseason loss to the Raiders, it represented most of Garrett's production. He finished with four total tackles, 1.5 sacks, three QB hits and two pass breakups to make his presence felt.
"I thought it was good," Garrett said of his performance. "I got in a little zone there, made a bunch of plays, and it was fun. Just getting out there, getting that adrenaline back. That was nice."
For Garrett – who also tipped a pass that led to an interception by defensive back J.R. Reed – that shot of energy had not been felt in a long time. Up until the Rams' preseason opener against the Chargers, he had played in only one live football game since mid-November 2019 – the Hula Bowl college all-star game held in January earlier this year. COVID-19 concerns cancelled the Division II fall 2020 sports season, so Garrett decided to forego his senior season and prepare for the NFL Draft.
"The biggest thing wasn't that I came from Concordia St. Paul, a small school, it was more that I missed the 2020 season and just adjusting to that," Garrett said. "But every day, it was a big emphasis to just do better than the day before. And I've slowly gotten better."
Gradually stacking those days helped lead to Saturday night's breakthrough performance. If there was a breakthrough moment prior to Saturday night's game, it came early in training camp as Garrett.
"I think it was like two weeks ago, I won my first one-on-one," Garrett said. "I just couldn't win a one on one, and I'm just like, 'What is going on?' And I won just using hands and some speed, and then I won a live rep in practice, and I was just like, 'Alright, I'm back. Let's go.'"
Garrett's mentality is always thinking about just the next play. It was the mentality that helped him in training camp, and in turn helped him stack together the group of plays he made in the second quarter.
"He did a great job. Made a big impact," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "You could see he was applying pressure consistently. Big second quarter. And really you've seen him start to make steady improvements. I think we always talk about it, that where that practice, performance and preparation equals game reality. And tonight was an example of that for Chris."