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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    James Laurinaitis gets license to be Rams' leader on defense ..

    By Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY
    EARTH CITY, Mo. Lead them.

    James Laurinaitis, was hesitant to speak up at times last season, when he set a franchise rookie record for tackles, but Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has told the linebacker to take charge of the huddle in his second year. Steve Spagnuolo delivered that message to second-year linebacker James Laurinaitis this summer.

    "I told him before the first preseason game that there had to be a moment where he grabbed the huddle and said, 'This is my show now,' " Spagnuolo says. "He has to let the huddle know when it needs to step up and play with a little more juice. He's starting to do that."

    Leadership comes almost naturally to Laurinaitis.

    "I was that way in high school (Plymouth Wayzata High School in Minnesota). I was that way at Ohio State," he says. "I'd rather be the person making calls and getting yelled at if I screw up than the one blaming somebody else."


    Laurinaitis served as a team captain at Ohio State in 2007-08, the seventh member of the Buckeyes to be elected captain twice in a career. He says he grew immeasurably under coach Jim Tressel.

    "Coach Tressel said to me, 'The best way to become a leader is to be someone who can be trusted to make plays and be accountable,' " he says.

    The second-round draft choice, taken 35th overall, was all of that and more as a rookie. He started all 16 games and set a franchise record for a first-year player by making 146 tackles, 98 unassisted, to go with seven passes broken up, two sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

    There were times when he wanted to say more in the huddle. Then he remembered his place.

    "As a rookie, it's hard," he says. "You don't want to step on toes of guys who are 10 years older."

    Laurinaitis learned the ways of professional sports from his father. Joe was never afraid to step on toes or heads as he pounded out a living as a wrestler known as "The Animal."

    His son, who ranked seventh with 375 career tackles when he graduated from Ohio State, quickly developed a reputation in the NFL as someone who relishes contact almost as much as his no-holds-barred father. The advances he made in understanding offensive and defensive schemes are equally impressive.

    "He's got a football mind," Spagnuolo says. "He'll probably be a coach someday."

    Laurinaitis barely allowed himself or anyone on the coaching staff an offseason in his determination to help St. Louis rebound from a league-worst 1-15 record.

    "This guy is one of the more passionate guys about the game of football," Spagnuolo says. "Even during the offseason, vacation time, he's texting me about what film he can watch.

    "At the position he's playing, that can permeate through the defense and the rest of your team."

    Laurinaitis understands the link between preparation and performance. He might not always make the play, but he is intent on being in position to make it.

    "You are going to make physical mistakes. That is part of the game," he says. "There are going to be times when you try to get off your block and it doesn't happen or you try to make a tackle and miss.

    "But it's a lot easier to play football when you are doing the right thing."

    As well as Laurinaitis performed as a rookie, Spagnuolo knows he suffered from information overload.

    "His head was spinning, thinking about which way he was going, right or left," the coach says.

    Says Laurinaitis: "I was crazy out of position sometimes. It happens."

    He was not the only player "crazy out of position."

    St. Louis, reeling from a series of poor drafts until recently, ranked 31st in allowing 27.3 points a game. The Rams were 25th in yielding an average of 235.2 passing yards. They finished 29th in surrendering 372.8 yards a game.

    Although no one player can fix all of that, Spagnuolo now trusts Laurinaitis to implement everything the coaching staff wants. That includes critical in-game adjustments that he views as being even more important than the game plan.

    "(During) the game, when you have to make changes and you convey it to the linebacker who gets it done on the field, that is when you know you have a chance to have a good defense," Spagnuolo says.

    Does Laurinaitis ever act anymore as if the coach is speaking a different language? "Never," Spagnuolo says. "I get those intense eyes."

    They are the eyes of an emerging young leader who wants to excel.

    "I hold myself to a high standard. You have to," Laurinaitis says. "You have to aim for perfection."


  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: James Laurinaitis gets license to be Rams' leader on defense ..

    Sounds good to me!

    Laurinaitis, I believe, is bound to be a very good MLB, and that, of course, includes leadership.

  3. #3
    01d 0rd3r's Avatar
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    Re: James Laurinaitis gets license to be Rams' leader on defense ..

    There is no doubt about it, Laurenitus will be a DPY within the next 5 years.

  4. #4
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: James Laurinaitis gets license to be Rams' leader on defense ..

    Note to Rams FO:

    Don't "London" him at contract time.
    "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

  5. #5
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    Re: James Laurinaitis gets license to be Rams' leader on defense ..

    Did you know that London is captain of the redskins D now? Too bad they let him slip away.

    I think Laurinaitis is a good choice.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  6. #6
    Flippin' Ram's Avatar
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    Re: James Laurinaitis gets license to be Rams' leader on defense ..

    I miss London, bringing him here would develop Laurinaitis quite significantly. He was quite the gem we found and I do hope TE Uh oh and DE Selvie becomes jewels of the rough as well.

  7. #7
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    Re: James Laurinaitis gets license to be Rams' leader on defense ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Note to Rams FO:

    Don't "London" him at contract time.
    LOL...classic, I was thinking the same thing.

  8. #8
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    Re: James Laurinaitis gets license to be Rams' leader on defense ..

    Good read. Glad I ordered his jersey

  9. #9
    Guam rammer's Avatar
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    Re: James Laurinaitis gets license to be Rams' leader on defense ..

    dude didnt get diddly from the league last year. Hopefully he's got a chip on his shoulder and becomes a nasty fire breathing monster all year long.

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