Since the Rams acquired cornerback Aqib Talib, cornerback Marcus Peters, and defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh during the offseason, reporters have raised question after question with head coach Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips about how the pair will manage those three strong personalities.
McVay has echoed Phillips on the subject more than once after the defensive coordinator told the media, "I don't manage players, I don't handle players. I just work with players."
And after going through the majority of OTAs and minicamp with the new players, Phillips expressed how pleased he'd been with all three on the field and inside the building.
"I obviously knew Aqib on the field too, so really more Marcus and Ndamukong. They're both really smart players. You don't always know that, I mean sometimes a guy really talented, but these guys are really smart players and talented. They do things so easily, so naturally," Phillips said. "Ndamukong has so much power, you can see it. Again, we don't have pads to see how much, but he just holds a guy with one hand — those kind of things real easily.
"And then the movement skills of Marcus are outstanding," Phillips continued. "He has great change of direction, has great hands, and Talib still has the same kind of movement skills and speed. All three of those guys look like they have been which that's what they look like in practice and in the classroom."
But then, of course, Phillips was asked once again about dealing with the strong personalities. And to that, he delivered his most thorough comments to date.
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"[A]s far as strong personalities, I explain what I want done, how I want it done, and why we want it done that way. They understand those things," Phillips said. "I like personalities because they're independent enough to do things on their own and they've shown they're independent enough to be great players too.
"[Y]ou don't want a player who does everything you say, you want guys that have some initiative," Phillips continued. "We tell them to do this and do that, but Marcus Peters [on] a couple plays last year … he's playing man to man and they throw it to another player but he intercepts it. That's what I'm talking about, [you don't say], 'No, you cover your man.' Well, if you intercept it when they throw it to somebody else, that's great."
Phillips used Peters as an example — which makes sense, as the has 21 regular- and postseason interceptions since entering the league in 2015. But Talib and Suh have the same kind of playing style, to the tune of the corner's 34 career interceptions — ranking No. 4 on the active list — and the defensive tackle's 51.5 sacks.
"Those are the kinda guys they are," Phillips said. "You want them to do all the right things and help them to be a better player, but you don't want them to lose that initiative. That's what they have and that's the way I've always coached."