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'What are some of the things I would've wanted somebody to teach me?': How Bobby Wagner is aiding Ernest Jones' Year 2 development

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – When it comes to mentoring Rams second-year linebacker Ernest Jones IV, veteran Bobby Wagner is drawing on his own experience at that exact point in his own NFL career.

"Just putting myself back to Year 2, what are some of the things that I would have wanted somebody to teach me?" Wagner said after Thursday's OTA session. "What are some of the things that I want to spread?"

That answer, according to Wagner, centers around processing the game.

When Wagner works with Jones, he wants to teach him to slow the game down. In their first or second season, a player can feel like they need to "get everywhere fast." As they get older, they realize there's a lot of wasted motor movement – something Wagner learned and applied to the way he played.

"So when you watch me play, I don't waste no steps," Wagner said. "Like, if I only got to take two steps, I'm taking two – I'm not gonna take six. And so just slowing the game down, processing the game, understanding ... you want your mind to be fast, but your body to be slow."

Jones is doing his part and welcoming that feedback.

"He's so receptive, he comes in early, he's a hard worker," Wagner said. "Like I said, he's a guy that can really be very, very talented just because of his mindset, the way he carries himself and his hunger to be great."

At this point, traits like that are not new to Wagner, who was familiar with Jones prior to coming to Los Angeles. However, he did learn just how wide that age gap really feels.

"That he was born close to the 2000s," Wagner said, when asked what he's learned about Jones in the time they've worked together. "That's probably the biggest thing. Come into the (linebacker) room, and you do the whole introduction thing. And I don't know why we thought to say our age and what year you were born. So I was hearing '98, '99, then I had to say '90, and everybody was like 'Ooohhh.' I'm like, 'I got a nine in front of it just like y'all."

Wagner is not so old, though that those players – especially Jones – won't listen to the wisdom he imparts. He will be bridging that age gap by leaning own his own experience from a decade ago.

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