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Rookie Linebacker Says he Is A Perfectionist

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  • Rookie Linebacker Says he Is A Perfectionist

    Rookie linebacker says he is a perfectionist
    2 hours, 30 minutes ago

    ST. LOUIS (AP)—James Laurinaitis(notes) made 14 tackles in his first NFL start, 10 of them solo stops, plus he recovered a fumble. But the St. Louis Rams’ rookie middle linebacker is far from satisfied.

    Laurinaitis, the team’s second-round pick out of Ohio State, is looking for ways to improve his play in Week 2 at Washington. When he reviews game tape, he said he tries to ignore what he calls the good stuff.

    “As a football player, you have to be a perfectionist,” Laurinaitis said. “You always have to look at things you can improve upon and I’m sure if you ask anybody on the team, everyone has something to improve upon, even guys with a long time in the league.”

    Laurinaitis said he’s been this way since high school when his defensive coordinator regularly asked him to mention areas that could use extra attention.

    The 6-foot-2, 247-pound Laurinaitis participated in seven tackles against the run, including one for a 1-yard loss, in the 28-0 loss at Seattle.

    He saw things while viewing tape of his performance that he wants to improve upon.

    “When you get satisfied, that’s when you decline,” he said. “You can never be satisfied as a player.”

    A starter in his first NFL game, Laurinaitis isn’t letting it go to his head. He is proud that he earned the starting role for the Rams, who he knew were counting on him to be ready to play.

    “In the NFL, you have no time to wait for somebody to grow up,” Laurinaitis said. “You’d better grow up fast. I take pride in knowing what I’m doing and trying to get everyone else confident I know what I’m doing. You need to be on the same page, no matter what.”

    Steve Spagnuolo, himself a rookie as the Rams head coach, said he thought Laurinaitis played well.

    “It’s not easy to go in there and basically be the quarterback of the defense as a rookie in your first NFL game,” Spagnuolo said. “He made some mistakes and he’ll be the first to tell you, but I think they’re things that are easily corrected. Overall, he played a real productive game.

    “That’s what he is, a productive guy. And if he continues to have that production it’s going to help the defense.”

    Laurinaitis said he welcomes the responsibility and challenge of playing middle linebacker in the NFL.

    “It’s a big job but it’s my responsibility,” Laurinaitis said. “You’re responsible for making all the right calls; you’re responsible for being the lead communicator. Whether you’re a rookie or not, you’ve got to do that as a middle linebacker.”

    Running back Steven Jackson said the team is not listening to negative talk about the club after the season-opening shutout loss. He’s also not upset with any fans who have soured on the team already.

    “All that matters is that everyone in this organization sticks together,” he said Thursday. “When we start winning, we’ll welcome the bandwagoners back.”

  • #2
    Re: Rookie Linebacker Says he Is A Perfectionist

    This is great to hear! On top of having a great debut with 14 tackles and a fumble recovery, Laurinitaus still isn't satisfied, whch means he is hungry for better stats. That's what we need in St. Louis!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rookie Linebacker Says he Is A Perfectionist

      “When we start winning, we’ll welcome the bandwagoners back.”

      Ouch...

      This space for rent...

      Comment

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      • MauiRam
        Laurinaitis takes control of Rams defense ..
        by MauiRam
        BY BILL COATS Friday, September 10, 2010 6:00 am


        Joe Laurinaitis made his living as a professional wrestler. His avocation was coaching kids sports teams — mostly the ones on which his son, James, played.

        It didn't matter what sport: Joe "drafted" James No. 1.

        "He kind of put the pressure on me. He made it known to the rest of the guys that he thought I was the best player," said James, the Rams' second-year linebacker. "When that's your father as coach, you have to go out of your way to prove it. You've got to be a leader."

        Thus were planted the seeds of leadership that blossomed throughout Laurinaitis' football career at Wayzata High in Plymouth, Minn., then Ohio State and now with the Rams.

        "I was voted captain my senior year in high school, and then at Ohio State I was voted captain by (coach Jim) Tressel and the guys when I was a junior," Laurinaitis said. "It's something that's just natural."

        Laurinaitis, 23, isn't a Rams captain — yet. But make no mistake: despite his youth, he's recognized as the clear leader of the defensive unit.

        "He accepts that role really well," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "When he was here in his first (spring practices), it was like, 'Wow, he really gets it; let's see what happens in training camp.' And he didn't skip a beat."

        Still, Laurinaitis was determined not to barge into anything. He vowed to "talk very little and learn a lot" during his early days with the Rams.

        "When you're a rookie, you don't want to step on anybody's toes; you want to earn your respect," Laurinaitis said. "But as a middle linebacker, you have to take control sometimes. ... You have to really know how to approach each guy. Some guys, you might be able to get in their face and tell them, 'Let's go!' Other guys, they'll want to be alone when they're having a rough one. It's a happy medium."

        Student of the game

        Laurinaitis has long had a knack for recognizing the offense's intentions. Some of that, he surmises, comes from playing quarterback in his younger days. But it's also a by-product of a ton of off-the-field study, a task that Laurinaitis, who graduated from Ohio State with a 3.28 grade-point average, always has embraced.

        "I like (running the defense), because I think it forces you to study more," he said. "You don't want everyone pointing at you, 'Well, he made the wrong call.' You've got to be on your game."

        Laurinaitis' game always was football, even though as a hard-hitting prep hockey defenseman, he had NHL scouts drooling. He was projected a second- or third-round draft pick.

        "Hockey was my hobby," Laurinaitis said. "Football was my love."

        Even before he was old...
        -09-10-2010, 09:34 AM
      • RamFan_Til_I_Die
        Laurinaitis seeks to become leader for St. Louis Rams
        by RamFan_Til_I_Die
        Laurinaitis seeks to become leader for St. Louis Rams
        BY JIM THOMAS
        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
        05/04/2009

        When the time came for the Rams to make their second-round pick in the draft, they were in an enviable position.

        Granted, all the top-rated wide receivers were gone. But both of the top middle linebackers in the draft — Ohio State's James Laurinaitis and Southern California's Rey Maualuga — were on the board. The Rams decided to take Laurinaitis, sparking a debate and discussion among Rams fans that still is going on, and might continue for some time: Did the Rams take the right guy?

        Coming off a season in which the Rams yielded a franchise record for rushing yards allowed, wasn't Maualuga the best run stuffer of the two? Wasn't Maualuga bigger and more of a collision player?

        After the Senior Bowl, the Rams seemed to be smitten with Maualuga. But something changed over the next two months. There were rumors of off-field issues concerning Maualuga and with a struggling franchise trying to lay a foundation for the future, Rams management decided to make the safer and more conservative pick by selecting Laurinaitis at No. 35 overall.

        Cincinnati snatched up Maualuga three picks later.

        These are the types of decisions that can shape franchises and put their stamp on coaching and general manager tenures. For those reasons and more, no Rams draft pick, not even No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith at offensive tackle, will be under as much scrutiny during his rookie season as Laurinaitis.

        No one is more aware of this than Laurinaitis, who makes no apologies for being picked ahead of Maualuga.

        "I think we're two different style of players," Laurinaitis said. " And I'm not ever going to say anything negative about Rey. I think he's a great player. I do. I think he's done great things at USC. And I think he'll be a successful pro player."

        As the 2009 season unfolds, Laurinaitis realizes Rams fans will be doing a compare-and-contrast of his play with Maualuga's. Fans and even media members might be comparing stats of the two players, but Laurinaitis won't.

        "Oh no. Not at all," he said. "I think if you focus on what other people are doing, it takes your focus off what you need to be doing for your team."

        Laurinaitis says he and Maualuga have become pretty good friends since spending time together at Playboy's preseason all-American team function. Last season, they'd call each other from time to time, congratulating each other on this game or that. On the first day of the draft, Maualuga even called Laurinaitis to congratulate him on being drafted.

        "We're fans of each other," Laurinaitis said. "There's a little competition there when you're two middle linebackers. You're happy to be the first one off the board,...
        -05-04-2009, 09:42 AM
      • MauiRam
        Laurinaitis more at ease this season ..
        by MauiRam
        Second-year linebacker says he's comfortable
        BY STEVE KORTE - News-Democrat


        ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis has time to sweat the details a little more in his second season in the NFL.

        "It's not going to be such a whirlwind like last year with trying to learn the whole defense," Laurinaitis said. "I know it a lot better, but there is always little details. You can always learn more. What I was learning in defensive strategy last year I can now flip to, 'What is the offense trying to do us?'"

        Laurinaitis, a second-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, set a Rams record for most tackles by a rookie with a 144 last season.

        He is only the second rookie in team history to lead the Rams in tackles. The other was Pisa Tinoisamoa, with 123 tackles in 2003.

        "He's been a great addition," Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. "My hat's off to Billy (Devaney) and (Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo) on drafting him, and actually getting him where we got him because he's a first-round guy, as far as we're concerned.

        "We put a lot of management skills on him. We expect a lot from him. He knows it, and the thing I just love about the guy is that he works at it. He'll be better this year than he was a year ago. We need him to be. He is a pro when it comes to his preparation and attention to detail. Hopefully, he'll have a long and illustrious career here."

        Laurinaitis' father, Joe, a former professional wrestler, said his son has always done his homework prior to playing games.

        "In high school, he had a three-ring binder almost as thick as the Rams' playbook, and he would evaluate and chart every play that he watched the other team run on film," Joe Laurinaitis said.

        Joe Laurinaitis is in St. Louis dog-sitting for his son.

        "I have two Rotweilers, and I don't want them to be in the house all the time, so he's letting them out," James Laurinaitis said. "My mom and my sister will come down at a later date."

        "All I've been doing is pooper-scooping his lawn for him," Joe Laurinaitis said. "What's wrong with this picture?"

        Joe Laurinaitis also has been attending the Rams' training camp practices.

        "He loves watching," James Laurinaitis said. "He loves being a dad. If he could get on the sidelines, he'd be right next to coach watching every single thing."

        Joe Laurinaitis was training for a tryout with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL when he was given the chance to pursue a professional wrestling career. He would take the stage name of "Animal" and become half of the famous "Road Warriors" tag team.

        "At that time, I was already benching over 500 (pounds)...
        -08-03-2010, 10:00 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Success In The Details For Laurinaitis
        by r8rh8rmike
        Success in the Details for Laurinaitis
        By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

        Posted 2 hours ago

        As the focal point of the Ohio State defense in his four years as a Buckeye, linebacker James Laurinaitis made plenty of big plays that would be cause for celebration.

        But in Columbus, any type of signature move was frowned upon by the coaching staff.

        “In college, the whole celebrating thing was kind of frowned upon,” Laurinaitis said. “Our linebacker coach wanted you to act like you had been there before.”

        So Laurinaitis did just that, acting like he had been there before because in most cases, he had. That approach carried into his rookie season with the Rams where he led the team in tackles and made his share of big plays.

        Never did Laurinaitis pound his chest or go off into a wild celebration. But before this season, cornerback Ron Bartell let Laurinaitis know that it’s OK to cut it loose after a big play.

        As if Bartell’s encouragement wasn’t enough, Laurinaitis also took exception to a perceived slight in the Madden ’11 video game.

        That game added a “swagger” rating feature this year where players are rated for the way they carry themselves. While the ratings seemed to be pretty arbitrary (former Rams safety David Roach was a 90), Laurinaitis was none too pleased to see that his rating matched his jersey number.

        With that, Laurinaitis set about finding ways to get his swagger rating up and decided that incorporating pieces of his wrestling lineage into it would be a good way to do it.

        “You realize in the NFL that it’s not really frowned upon,” Laurinaitis said. “It’s encouraged to get kind of creative with things. I really have to give credit to Ron Bartell as far as the sack celebrations. He told me a while ago I needed to step that up and recommended with the family lineage to do a lot of wrestling celebrations hence the Hulk Hogan, the Ric Flair, some of the things I have thrown in there.”

        Now in his second season in the NFL, Laurinaitis has had plenty of opportunities to break out some of his new moves.

        For the second consecutive year, Laurinaitis leads the team in tackles and is piecing together a Pro Bowl caliber season.

        In 14 games, Laurinaitis has racked up 112 tackles, making him the first Ram since Pisa Tinoisamoa to reach the century mark in his first two seasons in the league. In addition to his tackling prowess, he’s added six passes defended, one interception and three sacks.

        Being the perfectionist that he is, Laurinaitis is never satisfied with his performance but does acknowledge that he’s made a lot of progress from year 1 to year 2.

        “I think I’m more accountable,” Laurinaitis said. “I’m better in the decision making on the field, getting guys lined up, knowing the game plan, know the details. It’s just part of...
        -12-23-2010, 04:20 PM
      • MauiRam
        James Laurinaitis gets license to be Rams' leader on defense ..
        by MauiRam
        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...
        -08-31-2010, 09:35 AM
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