Laurinaitis at full speed after ankle surgery

April, 22, 2014
By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In a small departure from his usual offseason routine, St. Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis spent the few months since the end of the 2013 season right here in St. Louis.

It's normal for Laurinaitis to stick around for most of the time but he usually makes a stop at his alma mater Ohio State for a little bit of time before returning. This year, Laurinaitis had more reason to stick it out in the Gateway City: offseason ankle surgery.

Laurinaitis"I got my ankle cleaned out so I have kind of been doing stuff with that and hanging around here," Laurinaitis said. "Weíll stay here for the summer as well this year."

To be clear, the ankle surgery was nothing serious and didn't require any sort of major rehabilitation. But it did mean more time in St. Louis so he could have access to some rehab work in the early part of the offseason.

Five seasons into his NFL career, Laurinaitis has been Mr. Dependable for the Rams defense, playing and starting in 80 of a possible 80 games. He has played through other ailments previously and the ankle was just the latest to catch him.

As the Rams embarked on their offseason conditioning program Monday, Laurinaitis said he was back at full strength and ready to roll.

"Iím good, cleared, all of that," Laurinaitis said. "Itís no big deal. Thatís why nobody really talked about it because itís not something that was a big deal. It was an easy deal. Iím 100 percent everything."

Despite the injury, Laurinaitis again cleared the 100-tackle mark as he finished 2013 with 116 stops, 3.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions.

Heading into his sixth season, Laurinaitis said his individual goals (100 tackles, a trip to the Pro Bowl) won't change but they still come in a distant second to bigger team goals.

"Itís all about the playoffs," Laurinaitis said. "It sounds clichť and you always hear about these guys with personal goals saying the same thing and you kind of wonder about your personal goals. I really donít care. I just want to get to the postseason. I want to know what itís like to play postseason football and I think thatís a lot of our goals .... At this point I couldnít really care less, I just want to get to the postseason and see what that whole experience is like and chase that trophy, man. Thatís why you play the game, thatís why I play the game is to do all of that. So I want to get there."