Last year’s OTAs appeared to hold a lot of promise for Morgan Fox.
Entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016, Fox spent the majority of his rookie year on the practice squad, but did appear in four games.
Then in 2017, he became a key member of Los Angeles’ defensive rotation — playing 31 percent of snaps and recording 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery on the defensive line.
So when Fox began taking snaps at outside linebacker during the 2018 offseason program, it looked as if there could be a starting role in his future. But that ended with Fox tearing his ACL during Phase III, prematurely ending what appeared to be a breakout season.
Now a full year removed from the injury and a rigorous rehab process, Fox said in an interview with therams.com on Wednesday that he’s feeling like himself again, and ready to compete for a significant role in the defensive line rotation.
“It feels great,” Fox said of practicing during OTAs. “It’s hard to describe. You know, you don’t get to do anything and then you are back to moving around and getting after it.”
Check out photos of the Los Angeles Rams participating in OTAs.
The feeling comes after months of rehab — a grueling process that would likely test the limits of anyone’s patience.
“I think the best way to describe it, and what I tell everyone, is that the days were long, but the weeks were quick,” Fox said. “You’d check your rehab sheet and it had been 30 weeks — you don’t even remember it being 30 weeks, it doesn’t feel like 30 weeks. But some of the days felt way longer than 24 hours.”
“The training staff did a great job putting me in the position to feel great and feel confident in my leg and everything like that, so I kind of just waited until they were like, ‘Hey we want you to start trying things — and don’t push it.’ Then everything they had me try felt great doing.”
As the Rams wrap up OTAs this week and finish the offseason program with minicamp next week, Fox looks like he could play a significant role on the DL rotation. No, it’s not where he worked last year. But really, this is where Fox is most comfortable.
“This is home. Being a D-lineman, that’s home,” Fox said. “Outside linebacker was a blast, and being around those guys and the coaches was awesome, but being a D-lineman is home, definitely more comfortable, easier to get back into.”
Working with DL coach Eric Henderson — better known around the facility as “Coach Henny” — has aided in Fox’s development as well.
“Being with Coach Henny is awesome. He’s a great guy and everything that he does is applicable to the game,” Fox said. “He has such an attention to detail, it’s just great to be back and performing to the level that this D-line is. They have a standard and all you want to do is meet it and Coach Henny is definitely doing his best to get everyone to and beyond that standard.”
Throughout OTAs, Fox has been staying after on the field practice ends, getting in some extra reps with the sled, or tackling dummies. He says it’s to help knock the rust off, make up for lost time. And with the opportunity in front of him, he’s taking things day by day and only looking forward to the next event. For now, that's training camp.
“Sitting through training camp — I got surgery last year — I was at home while everyone was at training camp, so sometimes training camp drags on, but there’s definitely days when you miss it,” Fox said. “You miss being around the guys and just the experience of everything.”
Then, it'll be contributing during the season. Fox feels like it's going to be a collaborative effort along the defensive line, with everyone contributing. And his goal is to be a reliable piece of the puzzle.
"[I want to] help the team as much as I can and do what the coaches need, what my teammates need me to do, and just help us get towards our goal.”