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Ernest Jones wants to be voice of Rams' defense heading into third season

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Late last season when the Rams were taking on the Chargers, Rams defensive tackle Marquise Copeland made a play and (jokingly) received a hard push to the back.

Copeland wondered who it was, then realized it was linebacker Ernest Jones acknowledging, and celebrating, said play.

"He was super fired up, but that's just Ern," Copeland said. "It's just great to play with him. He brings your energy your energy up if you play with him, if you make a play, if you do anything like that."

That's the kind of energy and effort Jones hopes to bring entering his third season with the Rams, one in which he's grabbing a more vocal leadership role.

It was reflected already in his press conference Monday afternoon, when an energetic Jones described what he expects out of himself and the unit.

Jones wants to be the voice of the Rams defense, and he'll do it without changing who he is. It worked when he became one of four permanent team captains in college at South Carolina in 2020, so there's no reason to think it can't work now.

"I'll be myself, and that's enough for me," he said. "That's always been enough."

As for the defense: "I want to run to the ball harder and better than any other teams in this league. I want to make sure that when people do play us, regardless of the outcome of the game, they know that we were there, we were coming with everything we had."

In 2022, Jones received an All-Pro education from linebacker Bobby Wagner, but their collaboration only lasted for one season as Los Angeles released Wagner at the start of the new league year.

Jones said he learned "everything" from Wagner, especially the importance of a set routine and schedule. Jones admitted he previously didn't have much of a routine before – just "going through the motions," he said – but that approach is more structured and disciplined now.

"I'm much better than how I played and how I went about my day, so for me, it's making sure I'm eating, make sure my body is looking great, and making sure I'm doing everything that I can to put myself in the best position to be ready to be available when the time comes," Jones said. "And I feel like that time is now. I'm ready to go. I'm excited. I'm ready to do this."

That unit got much younger this offseason with the departures of Wagner, Jalen Ramsey and Leonard Floyd, among other key contributors, leaving the 23-year-old Jones as one of the few experienced voices within the group.

Jones understands what the external perception of the Rams' defense may be, but voiced full confidence in what he described as a "hungry" group.

"That's a bunch of dogs. That's that's one thing I'll say is this group," Jones said. "Losing Jalen was big, losing Bobby is big, but at the same time, we got to kind of move on and go forward. One thing I know about this group is we're hungry. We got a lot of young guys that need to make names for themselves, that need to provide for their families. So at the same time, I know once we get rolling and once we get going, we're gonna be something to deal with. All eleven hats to the ball is what I'm preaching and making sure that we do."

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