Safeties coach Ejiro Evero is entering his fourth training camp and season with the Rams this fall, but it's the first time since he arrived in Los Angeles that the collection of talent in his position room was either drafted or acquired by the current coaching staff.
Having a chance to work with a group that he helped construct and knows so well is what makes him excited for Rams Training Camp presented by UNIFY Financial Credit Union.
"It's fun to have a group of guys that we did a lot of research on, we really liked them coming out," Evero told theRams.com in a phone interview this week. "The best part is, we've got two guys that have played a lot of good football in the league and are experienced and ready to take another bigger step in their careers, and we've got two young guys that have a very, very promising future."
Fourth-year pro John Johnson III and second-year pro Taylor Rapp are the "established" members of the safeties room. The former suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the 49ers in Week 6 last year but told reporters this spring that he was "100 percent" healthy, while the latter emerged as a starter in his place and finished with the third-most tackles on the team (100 total).
In that same April video conference in which he provided an update on his health, Johnson also said he thinks his and Rapp's skillsets will complement each other well. Evero can also see it, saying they are both "really similar players."
"First of all, they're both just extremely, extremely bright and smart," Evero said. "They're both good communicators. They both have a passion for football. They're both tough guys. And so I think it's exciting because from a mental standpoint and a communication standpoint, they're very aligned. They both are up to the high level part of football in terms of making checks and adjustments and recognizing offensive formations and all that jazz. So we're going to be good in terms of communication, in terms of guys that can play really smart."
Johnson and Rapp not only can process what's happening in front of them on the field at a high level, but also translate it through execution.
"They're both elite tacklers from that safety position, they're both guys that can go find the ball, and they're guys that just have a sense of getting to the ball, too," Evero said. "It's very, very exciting to have two guys that are just very complementary."
Beyond that duo, the group also includes second-year pro Nick Scott, rookies Terrell Burgess (Utah) and Jordan Fuller (Ohio State), and undrafted free agent signee JuJu Hughes (Fresno State).
When asked specifically about third-round pick Burgess and sixth-round pick Fuller, Evero said both fit the mold of the safeties the Rams already have, in terms of being "really smart, cerebral football players that can translate it to the field." Echoing defensive coordinator Brandon Staley's comments earlier this spring, Evero also sees versatility in each that L.A. will be able to take advantage of.
"Terrell has a different specific skillset, in terms of, he's a guy that has really good movement ability and he has corner-type skills. He's a guy that we're going to give a little sniff at nickel (defensive back) as well as safety, so he's got that kind of dynamic," Evero said. "And then Jordan Fuller's a big-body guy, he moves around really well but he's got a build almost like a damn linebacker."
Like other members of their rookie class, the biggest challenge will be getting up to speed after not having traditional on-field work during the offseason program. However, according to Evero, going full-speed against a Rams offense that stresses a defense with different looks and tempos during training camp will help make the transition go smoother.
Regardless, Evero is confident in what his group will contribute to Los Angeles' defense.
"There's enough talent in our room to be very, very productive," Evero said.
The Los Angeles Rams were back on the field for the acclimation period. Check out some of the best shots from day 2.