IRVINE, Calif. – Sebastian Joseph-Day has two years of starting experience under his belt, but his role was different during that time.
Across the the 2019 and 2020 seasons, he was tasked with being a run-stopping defensive lineman for Rams defensive line coach and run game coordinator Eric Henderson. Entering the 2021 season, Joseph-Day will be counted on to help rush the passer, too.
"(My pass rush) was a big thing for me and a big thing when I talked to Coach Henny," Joseph-Day said after Monday's practice at Rams Training Camp presented by UNIFY Financial Credit Union. "I think he really wanted me to hone in on pass rush ability. Working on moves and working in edge and seeing things quicker. So, a lot of my off season was spent on that."
That work begin in February alongside football coach and trainer Eddy McGilvra, who trains NFL defensive linemen and works with more than 40 NFL players – including some of Joseph-Days Rams teammates – and more than 100 college players
"He helped a lot," Joseph-Day said. "A lot of stuff that that I struggled with, he watched the tape of myself, things I wanted to work on, I told him, and we worked at it one day at a time."
Joseph-Day said they specifically honed in on counters, plus his strengths and weaknesses. It's a strategic choice, because no defensive lineman – body type, counter moves or otherwise – is the same.
"Everyone's different, everyone's body is different," Joseph-Day said. "You have to kind of find what suits you. What's your foundation? What (is) your go-to? Then some counters off of it. Your strengths, kind of like that."
Of course, the former Rutgers standout also credits Henderson and current and former teammates who were in his corner for his development, like Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald and former Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers.
With the help of Henderson, Donald and Brockers, Joseph-Day was a key piece to the Rams' run defense, one that most recently finished No. 3 in the NFL in 2020. Now he will be expected to not only disrupt opponents' running backs, but help generate pressure on opposing passers for a defense that tallied the second-most sacks (53) in the NFL last season.
Unsurprisingly, his mentors are confident in his ability to get the job done.
"He just keeps getting better and better," Donald said after Wednesday's practice. "I think he grew into like a leadership role last year, just the way he was playing on the football field. So, he's going to continue to get better. He's a big-bodied guy, strong guy that can do it all. He's getting more confident and the more confident you get, he's a tough guy to try to block."
Take a look at photos of fans as they watch their Los Angeles Rams practice for Day 7 of Training Camp presented by UNIFY Financial Credit Union.