ATLANTA – At least 15 hours of travel Wednesday, followed by his first practice coming Thursday, left Rams CB Jalen Ramsey little time to prepare for his first game with his new team.
A simplified, reduced playbook was all Ramsey needed to make an immediate impact in his Rams debut Sunday against the Falcons.
"It was a full team effort," Ramsey said. "We played sticky defense, sticky coverage, a lot of man. Honestly, the defense was a little bit dumbed down for me just because I had only a couple of days to prepare. So I really appreciate the guys going with that gameplan, because, I don't want to say it wasn't the best for them, because they went out there and they strapped too. Appreciate everybody's help the few days I've been here."
Ramsey posted four tackles and one forced fumble, but it would be a service to measure how affected Los Angeles' defense as a whole.
His presence when defending in man-to-man coverage helped keep Falcons QB Matt Ryan preoccupied, allowing the Rams' pass rush to put pressure on him. Ramsey's presence, plus the performances of cornerbacks Troy Hill, Darious Williams and Nickell Robey-Coleman, helped them generate a season-high five sacks.
LB Dante Fowler, a teammate of Ramsey's in Jacksonville during his first two and a half seasons in the NFL, benefitted the most, recording his first three-sack game of his career.
"We knew that we would have a lot more opportunities than what we've had, and probably have a little bit more time," Fowler said. "And that's literally all we needed."
Even with a limited amount of information at his disposal, Ramsey made the most of it.
One of Ramsey's most commonly cited attributes since his arrival has been his intelligence, and had a major influence on how safety Eric Weddle – the Rams' primary defensive signal caller – was able to communicate with him.
"I was impressed (with) how much he understood what I was saying pre-snap," Weddle said. "Even seconds before the snap, I'd yell something out and I know he would understand what I'm saying, and it would help him put him in a different leverage or different spot on the field, knowing that I am anticipating what route he's going to get."
Weddle estimates L.A. has about 30 percent of its defense in to this point.
"Getting into a lot of the other stuff that we do, so he can actually rep it and practice it and study it, it's only going to make him more dangerous, and us as a defense too," Weddle said.
Rams head coach Sean McVay said Ramsey also deserves credit for how quickly he was able to digest the gameplan, as well as the work done by cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant and the rest of the defensive staff to get him ready.
"(Pleasant) sent me the tip sheet he had, it was immaculate," McVay said. "I felt like I could play corner after looking at that thing. But really, I think it's a credit to our defensive coaches and then Jalen's ability to really demonstrate what a smart, cerebral player he is, in addition to (having) a unique skillset.
"To be able to come in on such short notice, with such short practice time and to be able to play the way that he did, it was a big boost for our team for sure."