THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – For three years, Christian Rozeboom patiently bided his time on practice squads and later special teams for his chance.
In Year 4, the Rams linebacker is getting it.
"I always just said to myself, like, I want to be the best I can be," Rozeboom said. "I'm not going to be Ernest Jones, I'm not going to be Bobby Wagner, but I'm going to be the best that I can be. And just being a sponge, just getting the most I can get out of those meetings, and then just embracing my role in special teams, and really buying into that and getting other guys to buy into that, was one thing I've kind of made a priority too."
Slotted alongside Jones in Los Angeles' two-linebacker package, Rozeboom has recorded the third-most tackles on the team (11) while also keeping his role on special teams through the first two games of the 2023 season.
A bigger role is something he prepared for the whole time. Handling that workload from a physical standpoint has been "good," even if it brings increased soreness.
"Might be a little more sore at the end of the day, but this is exactly what I wanted," Rozeboom said of that role.
It's taken a little bit of time for Rozeboom to get to this point. He spent his entire 2020 season on the team's practice squad, was waived and signed to the Chiefs' practice squad prior to the 2021 season, only to be signed off that practice squad by the Rams in early November 2021. When on Los Angeles' active roster the rest of the 2021 season, his playing time came exclusively on special teams.
"For me, coming into that role with this being my fourth year, it's taken a little bit," Rozeboom said. "I've sat in those meeting rooms for a while without really getting to do it. So just kind of waiting on my opportunity, and making the most of it once once it does come, kind of time for that. But yeah, the coaches, they always put us in situations where we can be most successful. So whether that's two linebackers, one, three, four, five, it doesn't matter. Whatever they feel is gonna be successful for the defense, they're gonna do that."
When Rozeboom initially joined the Rams as an undrafted free agent, his goal was "just to stick around as long as I could." Then, it was to get on the field in a meaningful game. Then, make a difference on special teams and earn that role.
Now, he's taken it one step further and earned a spot in the Rams' two-linebacker packages alongside Ernest Jones.
"I think you just kind of take it as it comes," Rozeboom said, reflecting on his journey to this point. "Just grateful for every opportunity. Thankful for health, stayed healthy for the most part for the whole way through. You kind of take that for granted. And like I said earlier, just sticking around as long as I could."
Some players wouldn't have the patience to wait that long, but Rozeboom credits the way he was raised by his family, in terms of being down-to-earth and grounded in his faith, and that "there are so many things bigger than football."
"So just keeping that in perspective," Rozeboom said. "And then, at the end of the day, I was still playing football. Whether it was the role I didn't maybe necessarily want or what my goal was in the end, but I'm still playing football. I'm 26 years old, and to still be able to go out there and be in that competitive arena, it's just a cool thing. Just thankful for that."