NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Every personal offseason goal brought up by Rams defensive back Cobie Durant that he wanted to bring into training camp this year tied directly into the role he will be vying for this upcoming season.
"Be consistent, be a better tackler, be more vocal," Durant said Tuesday. "Especially being at the star position, just being more vocal."
That role is a big one to fill in wake of Jalen Ramsey, who primarily manned the position over the last three seasons, getting traded to the Dolphins. Fortunately for Durant, Ramsey – as well as former Rams cornerbacks Troy Hill and David Long Jr. – were willing teachers.
Durant's biggest takeaway while learning under Ramsey: Communicating the change of the strength.
"If it's star-right, star-left, going ahead and saying that early on and letting everybody else know where I'm lining up at, because it kind of runs through me," Durant said.
Statistically, Durant backed up all the necessary attributes to play the position, especially having a nose for the football.
His three interceptions were second-most on the Rams' defense behind Ramsey's four, while his 151 interception return yards led the NFL. He recorded his first pick-six and his first sack of his NFL career while also collecting five passes defensed and 22 total tackles.
Ramsey's 6-foot-1, 208-pound frame made him unique in terms of the way he played star. Though Durant stands 5-11 and 180 pounds, he still posses the qualities they look for in someone that can successfully handle the position.
"It's really the increased toughness. It's really the short space quickness, and when you put a guy like Cobie and you put a young (DB Shaun) Jolly in there, they definitely have those tools and those attributes," Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said on May 31. "They definitely lack the size that Jalen had, which is kind of unique. But those are the things that we look for. Those are things that you look for in just around the league in general."
As Durant alluded to earlier, this new role involves more situational matchups, which means his studying will only get deeper. It won't just be about communicating which side he's lining up on, either. Durant said there are certain calls the Rams defense makes depending on what formations they see, and that call goes through him when he's communicating with the cornerback or the safety – which also explains why he said playing star is "a lot more mental" compared to being at one of the outside cornerback positions.
But he's been studying the position since last season so he can be ready to go out and compete for the role. And he's up for the test.
"At the end of the day I'm ready for it, I'm ready to take on that challenge, to just go out there and play fast, play smart and be a playmaker," Durant said.