THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Even in the earliest workouts, Rams cornerback Derion Kendrick practiced like someone who knew he had a big role ahead of him entering his second season.
It could be seen in the urgency he went through drills. And it could be seen in his playmaking and overall activity when OTAs and minicamp arrived later this spring.
"Since the season ended, I've been working on slimming down and stuff like that, just because I know the role's coming and bigger roles come all right now is no fit and good getting comfortable out there," Kendrick told theRams.com.
Kendrick was one of several defensive backs drafted by the Rams in 2022 in anticipation of many key contributors in that group becoming free agents. David Long Jr. signed with the Raiders in free agency, Troy Hill became a free agent and Jalen Ramsey was traded to the Dolphins, setting the stage for more opportunities for those younger players.
Even with those veterans in the mix, though, the former Georgia standout still earned snaps in the rotation as a rookie, starting in six of the 15 games he played in while making 36 total tackles and four pass breakups.
"I'd say the most the best thing for me to do right now is take technique," Kendrick said, when asked how his rookie season influenced his approach this spring. "Put that at the top, and then discipline is number two for me. That's that's the main tool for me technique and discipline. And then just follow follow close."
Those instincts – and tangible differences from 2022 – were on display on the first day of minicamp. During team drills, he broke up a deep pass down the sideline by quarterback Matthew Stafford. He also anticipated another Stafford throw on the opposite sideline, and nearly had an interception during redzone work off of a ball that bounced off tight end Tyler Higbee's hands.
Asked about expectations for Kendrick heading into his second season, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris indicated Kendrick is well on his way to meeting them based on what he saw this spring.
"What I want to see from Derion Kendrick is exactly what he's given me," Morris said on May 31. "Urgency, he's given me complete and absolute hustle. He's given me some playmaking ability on the ball and off the ball. He provides great energy and juice just with his enthusiasm and his personality. I'm looking forward to seeing him grow to his highest level, whatever that is. I don't want to set a ceiling for him. I don't want to set a bar for him. I think we don't know yet. I'm looking forward to seeing it."