Laurinaitis Happy To Be On Time
Laurinaitis Happy to be on Time
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
By Nick Wagoner
Before James Laurinaitis parted ways with his teammates and the coaching staff at the end of the offseason program, coach Steve Spagnuolo had some words of wisdom he shared in an effort to help his rookie linebacker.
“Before I left coach Spagnuolo said ‘Hey, I don’t like talking about all that contractual stuff but just make sure you get in camp on time,’” Laurinaitis said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the day rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans were to report to training camp, Laurinaitis followed through on his head coach’s request, signing a four-year contract with the Rams.
Laurinaitis drove back to St. Louis from his home in Minnesota on Monday and had remained hopeful a deal would be struck in time for him to report and check into the team hotel before the first scheduled meeting on Wednesday night.
“You don’t want anyone to think of you as that guy holding out,” Laurinaitis. “You don’t want that label on you and I am just glad it’s all over with. A lot of guys do mean it when they say they want to be in camp on time. You are missing a lot of football, a lot of good teaching if you hold out.”
In the case of Laurinaitis, getting to camp on time is more imperative than the average draft pick. While he would miss out on repetitions and chances to learn the defense if he missed part of camp, he could potentially have missed out on a goal far more important.
After the Rams used their second-round choice on Laurinaitis in April’s NFL Draft, it became clear that the end game would involve Laurinaitis getting an opportunity to, and eventually earning, the starting middle linebacker job.
For most of the OTAs and minicamp practices, Laurinaitis did not work with the top unit because coach Steve Spagnuolo believes in making rookies earn their positions. With that, Laurinaitis enters this camp with plenty to prove.
Of course, putting the pads on for the first time will provide just the opportunity he seeks in his quest to land the starting spot in the middle of the defense.
“I’m very excited,” Laurinaitis said. “A lot of guys look good in shorts. When you are a linebacker, wearing shorts all the time is hard because your whole position is kind of based on physicality and going out there and showing what you can do. I will get plenty of that here soon.”
The adjustment to an NFL training camp doesn’t figure to be easy for Laurinaitis, who adhered to NCAA rules at Ohio State with the 2-1-2 format require in college.
Going back to a lot of two-a-day practices will be a change for Laurinaitis, who hasn’t had a lot of them in a short time since he was in high school.
But Laurinaitis spent his summer vacation finding ways to make that transition easier. Upon his return to Minnesota from the NFL’s Rookie Symposium at the beginning of July, Laurinaitis spent most of the past month working out with other NFL players from the state.
Leading the group is Arizona star receiver Larry Fitzgerald but former Rams and current Arizona tight end Dominique Byrd was also in attendance.
Laurinaitis says he learned some tricks of the trade from Fitzgerald about preparing and staying healthy during camp.
“(I was) just asking questions of how to get through it,” Laurinaitis said. “He says the most important thing is to take care of your body like going to sleep when you get a chance, getting in the cold tub, stretching and all of those things.”
In addition, Laurinaitis was able to take advantage of the presence of Byrd and Pittsburgh tight end Matt Spaeth, working on his pass drops and rushing the passer with them as blockers.
Laurinaitis says the money won’t change him and he’s already set in motion his plan to put most of his money in the hands of his financial team. That means no outlandish purchases are on the horizon.
“I will give it all to my financial team and tell them to put it away so I can’t touch it,” Laurinaitis said. “Put me on a budget; make sure I spend the money I used to in college like with the scholarship check. I got my car, I was happy with that and even that I was like ‘Gosh, I have to pay this.’ I am very cheap and I credit that to my parents. They brought me up on humble beginnings and my dad even with his profession always taught me to save it or give to family.
Now that Laurinaitis is signed and in camp on time, he can turn his full attention back to football.
And that’s all that has ever really mattered to Laurinaitis in waiting for this day to come.
“I am anxious for meetings to get started,” Laurinaitis said. “I am anxious to get that playbook back and start looking at it. I copied all of the notes from the playbook from OTAs to now. I am excited to get it back and get the pads on. I am glad this whole contract talk is done now.”
RAMS ADD RUN STUFFER: Laurinaitis wasn’t the only Ram to sign a contract on Wednesday. The Rams also inked monster defensive tackle Hollis Thomas to a contract.
Thomas is listed at 335 pounds and has been around the league for 13 seasons, most recently in New Orleans. He should step in to the Rams’ rotation immediately and give them the presence needed to help the run defense.
The Rams also released defensive tackles Willie Williams and Kirston Pittman as well as wide receivers Travis Brown and Horace Gant to create roster space.
Re: Laurinaitis Happy To Be On Time
Lets see.....he's excited, and a lot of guys look good in shorts.
I hope I missed his message.
Re: Laurinaitis Happy To Be On Time
Ok, this from a U of M fan that hated seeing him on the field against the Blue. I think this kid is gonna be a stud. Everything about him is right. His pedigree from his father being a workout warrior in the Wrestling stuff. Good college (hate to say that, but have to give the Buc's credit). And just the drive the kid seems to have.
He's not looking to buy his folks a new house (of course they don't need it), but saying I am just going to hand it over to my financial team so I can play ball. All it seems he wants to do is go bruise someone.
He will be my new jersey this year. And by the time my wife comes home from Korea with it, I really hope I am as anxious to get it as I am to see her.