THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Quentin Lake prides himself on being a versatile player. And lately, he's been getting plenty of chances to show it.
Beginning the season being used as a dime linebacker in sub packages, the Rams second-year defensive back is now getting involved as nickel defensive back in some of Los Angeles' other sub packages as well.
"Where they need me, whether it's if a guy goes down, or if they want to put me at a different spot, I'm able to do it," Lake said this week.
Over the last three games, Lake has seen his highest amount of playing time on defense. His 27 snaps in Week 6 was 36% of the Rams' total defensive snaps; across Weeks 7 and 8, he played 29 and 32 defensive snaps – each nearly 50% of the total defensive snaps for those respective games.
It takes a sound routine to be prepared to play both positions. For Lake, that starts after the game. On Sunday, he was watching the game on the plane ride home, figuring how where he can improve, from moving his body better to how he could've played better on certain situations and plays. On Monday, he's getting an early look at Green Bay. On Tuesday, the Packers' first and second down tendencies.
"Long story short is, I have an extensive way of how I watch film," Lake said. "But at the end of the day, you have to do your homework. My dad has shoved that down my throat ever since I've been in college – do your homework – because in reality, like in college, you have school, you have football, you're kind of balancing it. In the NFL, your school is football. It's almost a blessing, because the CliffNotes, the SparkNotes, whatever you want to call it, it is in the film. As long as you watch the film and utilize what the coaching staff has for you guys, the answers to the test are all in that little 18-inch iPad."
Lake's study plan has been in place since college and helps put his mind at ease. It also allows him to communicate at a high level and understand all the different positions.
"When you look at different positions, nickel is similar to dime, dime is similar to strong safety," Lake said. "You kind of put all of them together, you can really play fast."
Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said Lake's understanding of the safety and dime positions shown during OTAs this spring is what gained trust from the coaching staff, building off of the way he impressed in situational usage late last season.
Los Angeles already had Russ Yeast and Jordan Fuller playing at a high level, then added John Johnson III to the safeties. Still, when Lake got his opportunities this spring and summer, he made the most of them and ultimately set the stage for the action he's been seeing in recent weeks.
"So then as you're going throughout the process, Quentin is out there and he's just making all the calls and doing all the communicating and doing all the stuff that (DB) Cobie (Durant) is doing," Morris said. "Those guys really kind of took to it both being in the box players when you play Dime. So we thought, hey, he'd be a great backup star for us. Then they had some situations there where it popped up in this game. Cobie goes down, we're able to pop Quentin Lake over really quickly, after your immediate substitution was (DB) Duke Shelley going out there because he had been doing the last couple of weeks in practice being at backup. He had a couple errors there with that situation, and we are able to put (Quentin Lake) 'Q' out there, and the trust that he has from all of us is just his knowledge base, his note taking, his ability to communicate, all the stuff that you saw in the draft that (General Manager) Les (Snead) and those guys got out this kid, nothing new."
If Lake keeps it up, it won't be surprising to see that snap count continue to rise.
"He's done a phenomenal job," Morris said.