THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The circumstances won't be an excuse. Rams defensive back Jalen Ramsey is making sure of it.
As Los Angeles navigates injuries in the secondary and players in new roles, Ramsey is using play and his leadership to ensure the secondary's standard of play is maintained.
"I talked about it a little bit last week, I want to make sure that like, we don't lose a step, so everybody in the secondary is strong," Ramsey said Saturday. "And being one of the leaders in the room, I make sure that my game is strong so they can feed off of my confidence, my energy and my play out here."
This manifested itself in multiple ways last week.
Facing a 3rd and 1 at midfield with a - lead, the Rams defense needed a stop. Ramsey is lined up at star. After Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray receives the snap, he runs a speed option and pitches the ball to running back James Conner. As Conner tries to go outside, Ramsey defeats the block, sets the edge and makes a physical tackle to up end conner and prevent him from reaching the line to gain.
Ramsey would finish with eight total tackles (two for loss) plus two pass breakups in Los Angeles' 20-12 victory over Arizona.
There also players like defensive backs Derion Kendrick and Grant Haley in bigger roles, and both of them didn't miss a beat. Haley made note of Ramsey's impact in that regard on this week's episode of Rams Revealed.
"Being able to go out on defense and take the coaching that I've learned from last year to this year, and just how they see the game unfold, I felt pretty confident going in," Haley said. "I think the coaches got me prepared, and having guys like Jalen out there, him reiterating things we've seen in film just to pop up in my knowledge that can make me play faster out there."
Throughout practice last week, Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner especially noticed Ramsey's communication among the defensive backs. Ramsey's playmaking ability naturally sets an influential example as well.
"Obviously, guys love to hear somebody (like) that, as cerebral as he is, talk about the game," Wagner said Thursday. "So just the way that he's able to communicate what he sees on the field, I think that comes down to, a lot of the younger guys are guys that are just getting started. So I think that's the biggest thing when you watch the plays that he makes, it's not a surprise. He studies a lot of film, he understands what the team is trying to do against him and he takes his chances so I think the communication probably picked up a little bit more. Obviously, when you're out there and you're watching him practice and doing the stuff that he's doing it just trickles down to everybody else."
Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said that from both an on-the-field and off-the-field standpoint, Ramsey always feels like if he can get involved early, that will get him going to lead the way for the rest of the game.
Morris points to the aforementioned tackle for loss on 3rd and 1, as well as a big third-down stop over the middle, as critical things Ramsey is doing, as well as taking his game "to a whole new level" when he wants to eliminate missed opportunities.
All told, it played – and will continue to play – an important role in the success of the Rams' secondary.
"He's done such a really good job of taking over from not just a show mentality, but kind of a leadership, stand up, talking, being in the meeting room, being engaged," Morris said Friday. "Some of the things that he's done in walkthrough has been a little bit different for him, so to speak, and that's a good thing. That's a credit to his growth and development as a leader and I love it. I absolutely love it."