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  1. #1
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    Grant gives Rams strong play at linebacker ..

    BY JIM THOMAS Thursday, August 19, 2010 12:05 am

    When Alex Barron was traded to the Dallas Cowboys for Bobby Carpenter in May, it became clear that the Rams would start an all-Ohio State linebacker corps this season: Carpenter and Na'il Diggs on the outside and James Laurinaitis in the middle.

    Well, the Rams do have three ex-Buckeyes in their starting lineup at linebacker. But in one of the surprises of training camp so far, it's Larry Grant who is teamed with Diggs and Laurinaitis on the first-team defense.

    There was no big announcement or pep talk from the coaches to announce Grant's promotion. When the coaching staff displayed the defensive depth chart at start of camp, Grant's name was listed as the starting weakside linebacker. That's how he found out.

    But the question remained, would Grant have staying power as a starter?

    During the first day training camp practice in full pads, Grant made his presence felt with a couple of jarring hits. He continued to throw his weight around on the practice field at Rams Park. But could he transfer it to game day in the preseason opener against Minnesota?

    Well, on the second Donnie Jones punt of the night, Grant delivered what some in the business call a "de-cleater" on Minnesota return man Asher Allen. Allen was knocked off his feet — or off his cleats, if you will — on a crushing hit by Grant.

    "It felt real good," Grant said, smiling. "It was perfect, actually."

    At 6-1, 251 pounds, Grant brings some size to the linebacker position. And as demonstrated by that hit on Allen, he packs a wallop. But Grant wants to show that he's more than just a collision player.

    To wit, he prevented a long gainer in pass coverage against the Vikings, breaking up a ball intended for tight end Garrett Mills down the middle.

    "Just sticking within the scheme of the defense," Grant said. "The coaches draw things up, and I run it like they want me to do it, and I was able to get up underneath the tight end and get a pass breakup."

    Before the Rams' starting defense called it a night, Grant finished with two pass breakups and also played some run defense, dropping Vikings running back Toby Gerhart for a 3-yard loss.

    "Larry has an unbelievable amount of talent," Laurinaitis said. "He's very skilled. It's always just been little things here and there — little mental lapses here and there. I'm just trying to stay on him more to make sure those mental lapses don't happen."

    Grant appreciates the help.

    "The guy's a smart player," Grant said. "He's probably the smartest player on defense I've ever played with. Being with him at Ohio State, he did all the checks there. And now here, he's continuing to progress and become the defensive leader we need."

    Grant left Ohio State one year ahead of Laurinaitis as a seventh-round draft pick by San Francisco in 2008. (Laurinaitis was a second-round pick by St. Louis in 2009.)

    "Larry's just a guy that I've been friends with for a while," Laurinaitis said. "And so it's just trying to constantly reiterate that he's got plenty of talent to do this thing. And take advantage of the opportunity he has."

    Grant spent the final month of the '08 season with the Rams after being signed off San Francisco's practice squad. Last season he played in all 16 games for St. Louis, but mainly on special teams. There were times in those first two seasons when Grant wondered if he'd ever get a chance to start in the NFL.

    "Being in this business now for a few years I've learned that it takes more than just wanting something," Grant said. "It takes a lot of stuff off the field — and while people aren't looking — to become a starter."

    Such as getting immersed in the playbook, studying film, being assignment sharp and staying focused.

    "I've told myself for the longest (time) now, that I'm going to keep this tunnel vision that I have," Grant said. "And there's going to be something at the end of this vision waiting for me and the rest of this team. So James has been helping me a lot with that."

    That's been true on the field, in the meeting room, and even at home. For the first couple of weeks of camp, Grant simply couldn't escape from Laurinaitis. They were roommates at the team's camp hotel in St. Charles. And it's not the first time they've shared a room.

    "Larry and I have been roommates together since back in the college days," Laurinaitis said.

    And you know what they say about familiarity breeding…contempt.

    "Yeah, we get sick of each other very easily," Laurinaitis said.

    Kind of like an old married couple, then?

    "No, I wouldn't marry James," Grant deadpanned. "I don't find him that attractive."

    The Rams moved out of their camp hotel just before the Minnesota game, meaning Grant and Laurinaitis only have to see each other at work these days.

    And so far in this very young 2010 season, Grant is flourishing at work.


  2. #2
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    Re: Grant gives Rams strong play at linebacker ..

    These are the kind of articles I love hearing about. A teammate pushing another to reach their potential. A true team concept. Love it, now I feel this team is headed in the right direction. Now lets see if we can kill that injury bug that keeps lingering around Rams park

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    Re: Grant gives Rams strong play at linebacker ..

    With all the personnel failures that have come and gone over the past decade, it's nice to see a (potentially) pleasant surprise on the field.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Grant gives Rams strong play at linebacker ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    With all the personnel failures that have come and gone over the past decade, it's nice to see a (potentially) pleasant surprise on the field.
    It is even nicer that we got him off the Whiners practice squad! Yesterday I asked one of my employees who is a die hard Whiner fan if he knew who Larry Grant was, and to my surprise he did, he went on to say that the Whiners were not at all happy when the Rams signed him off their PS. In case anyone is wondering, yes - we go at each other all season long - much to the amusement of others .. This year looks like I'll be on the defensive again .. Hopefully Grant will provide some ammo to shoot back with when we play the Whiners this season.

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