HONOLULU, Hawaii – A move to outside linebacker earlier this month paid dividends this past weekend for Natrez Patrick.
The former Georgia star collected three total tackles, half of a sack and one quarterback hit in Saturday night's 14-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, taking advantage of the chances he received.
"Natrez has done a nice job," Head Coach Sean McVay said postgame.
With starting outside linebacker Clay Matthews resting back in Los Angeles and reserves Trevon Young and Justin Lawler battling injuries, Patrick had to switch from inside – where he primarily played during his college days – but also got the start as a result.
His impact was felt in a short amount of time.
Less than five minutes into the contest, Patrick combined with inside linebacker Bryce Hager for a sack of Cowboys starting quarterback Dak Prescott. The resulting 12-yard loss pinned Dallas on its own 3-yard line.
Later in the first quarter, he held Cowboys running back Alfred Morris to gains of just three yards and one yard on separate carries, assisting defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day on the latter of the stops.
"Really, we just transitioned him to outside linebacker a couple weeks ago almost by necessity as a result of (DL) Justin Lawler's injury and (OLB Trevon Young) 'T-Young' being banged up," McVay said. "He's really done a good job. I think (Outside Linebackers Coach) Chris Shula's been outstanding, in terms of helping him develop and progress quickly."
Patrick's versatility comes at a critical time for the Rams.
Besides Lawler and Young's injuries, Los Angeles also will be without projected starting inside linebacker Micah Kiser for an indefinite period of time due to a left pectoral injury – scheduled to be surgically repaired Tuesday – sustained against the Cowboys on Saturday, meaning Patrick's ability to play both spots could be needed at some point the remainder of the preseason.
At a minimum, his playing time will likely continue to trend upward. He played 34 snaps against the Cowboys, good for 48 percent of the Rams' total defensive snaps on Saturday, after receiving 24 snaps, or 33 percent of the Rams' total defensive snaps, in the preseason opener at the Raiders on Aug. 10.
Combined with the strong debut of fellow outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Patrick proved to be a bright spot at a key position for Los Angeles against Dallas.
"Like we said, we'll look back at the film, but you definitely felt those guys and that was a positive for sure," McVay said.