THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – As cornerback Jalen Ramsey walked away from the podium Thursday afternoon, he crossed paths with safety Jordan Fuller, realizing Fuller had caught the last part of his press conference in which he was asked about Fuller's recent achievement.
"You're growing up, dog!" Ramsey told Fuller as Fuller made his way there.
Indeed, Fuller has matured quickly. Entering his second NFL season, he was voted one of eight team captains by his Rams teammates for the 2021 season.
"It means so much," Fuller said. "It's probably one of my biggest achievements to this day, aside from being voted captain at Ohio State. So yeah, this is huge. Love my teammates, love this team, this organization. I give my all everyday, and I'm just grateful I've gained the respect of my teammates. I know it doesn't stop here, but I'm definitely very grateful."
Given his background, perhaps it's not surprising that Fuller ascended into such a huge responsibility.
The former sixth-round pick emerged as a starter his rookie year and was also a two-time captain for Ohio State (2018 and 2019), where he had J.T. Barrett, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and "so many different teammates" he looked up to and learned from as leadership examples.
Ramsey – whom Fuller said he works closely with – defensive lineman Aaron Donald, former safety John Johnson III and multiple players on offense are among many from his time with the Rams so far.
Still, Rams defensive coordinator and 19-year NFL coaching veteran Raheem Morris said "it's really rare" for a player like Fuller – a candidate to be the Rams' on-field defensive signal-caller this season – to have that kind of role and responsibility this early in their career.
"You're talking about a special human, though," Morris said after Wednesday's practice. "You're talking about a guy that stepped in. I forget what round he was actually drafted, maybe six. He came in as a sixth-round pick and then (to) be able to come in, to become a starter, go through some adversity, fight through an injury, be able to bounce back. Now you come back, attack another offseason. You attack the offseason with a new coach on defense, somebody you got to help out and somebody you got to teach how to communicate with you. Then you meet with that guy and you get a chance to bond with them during training camp, to watch him grow with his team. His team voted him as a captain. That is extremely special and extremely rare. It says it all about the young man."
Morris later added: "I've been around a couple of fortunate guys that have come in and contributed. I don't know if I've been around a guy like Fuller who can come in and contribute and also take a leadership role and take a certain responsibility to his guys with examples."
For some young players, finding their voice and establishing themselves in that way can be difficult. However, that hasn't been an issue for Fuller – not only because of showing the requisite confidence to wear the green dot, but also how he interacts with his fellow Rams defensive backs.
"We've seen his growth since he stepped on the field here, honestly. It's been special to see," Ramsey said after Thursday's practice. "He's taken on different roles and leadership roles really well. He's not only a captain of the team, but he (is) our guy in the DB room too. I say things and I got a little say-so and I lead in my own way, but he challenges me, even, to be better and be a better leader."
Fuller said he's "blessed" to be in this position.
"Super grateful, that's all I can really say," Fuller said. "Super blessed."
Take a look at the best photos from the Los Angeles Rams Thursday practice at Cal Lutheran.