Countdown to Camp is a series breaking down the Rams roster by position group heading into training camp. The sixth installment examines the linebackers.
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If 2022 represents a big year for Rams quarterbacks, the same could be said for their linebackers.
On the inside, there's second-year linebacker Ernest Jones, who emerged as a starter during his rookie season and has another big season ahead. Then there's veteran Bobby Wagner, whom Los Angeles signed earlier this offseason and will share the field with Jones at times. Travin Howard, the hero of the NFC Championship game, also returns.
When the Rams were deciding whether to pursue Wagner in free agency, part of that process involved the coaching and personnel staffs assessing if they could find ways to get Wagner and Jones on the field at the same time. While glimpses of that were seen during the offseason program this spring, training camp will be the next step in evaluating those packages and figuring out how that will come to life.
At edge, it's figuring out who will replace Von Miller as the starter opposite Leonard Floyd to help a pass rush continue producing at a high level.
Justin Hollins, Terrell Lewis and Chris Garrett are all in the mix at edge, and the approach taken to the position was reminiscent of the 2020 NFL Draft. While the external perception that year was that Los Angeles needed to use one of the higher selections on an offensive linemen, it instead deferred until the seventh round based on the confidence it had in its returnees. That was likewise the case this year, as they added Daniel Hardy to head coach Sean McVay pointing to what Hollins and Lewis have shown when healthy as well as how highly they think of Garrett.
Collectively, these decisions will be hashed out with a new inside linebackers coach in Chris Beake, who arrived in Los Angeles after spending the past nine seasons on the Denver Broncos' defensive coaching staff, and Thad Bogardus taking over as outside linebackers coach with Chris Shula promoted to pass game coordinator/secondary coach.
Take a look through the best photos of Los Angeles Rams linebackers throughout the 2021 season.