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Burwell: Quinn stands out for Rams

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  • Burwell: Quinn stands out for Rams

    Ability to get after QB could be huge boost.

    3 hours ago BY BRYAN BURWELL

    As all the extreme wide-bodied and thick-necked giants assembled on the far corner of the Rams Park practice field on Tuesday afternoon, it was easy to see how much defensive end Robert Quinn sticks out in a crowd.

    In a flock of extremely oversized defensive linemen that coach Jeff Fisher loves to collect, Quinn sticks out like a gazelle among the rhinos and elephants. An extremely big gazelle (6-foot-4, 264 pounds), but a gazelle nonetheless. He is cut like a well-muscled inverted triangle, wide shoulders spreading out forever, but everything quickly tapering down to these long, bowlegged sprinter's legs. All around him are 300-pound big bodies, stomping and pounding and rumbling along with sheer power and strength. But there is last year's first-round pick pawing the ground in a three-point stance like Usain Bolt ready to explode out of the starting blocks.

    For now, this is how Quinn sticks out in the crowd. In time, if things go according to plans, the Rams are counting on him to stick out for far more significant reasons. Last year, he showed flashes of his pass rushing potential with five sacks in a part-time role. This year, the expectations are much higher. They are hoping he turns into a fierce double-digit sack artist to go in tandem with Chris Long and turns the Rams defensive line into one of the main strengths of this team.

    Quinn has been impossible to miss in the first weeks of camp. He seems to flash across your eyes in every pass rushing drill like a blur. In 11-on-11 drills, every time you see the flash of white jersey slashing around the edge on the pass rush right into the lap of nearly every quarterback before they can cock their throwing arm, it seems to be No. 94. He has burst past every offensive lineman put in front of him. On the rare occasion that he does not get into the backfield, there's another familiar scene.

    Someone has tugged on Quinn's jersey, almost yanking it off his shoulder pads and nearly hauling him to the ground out of a sense of desperate survival.

    Ask Jeff Fisher if he's noticing the same thing, and he grins as if you're handing out free money. "Yeah, and I'm kinda hoping that sort of thing carries over into the games, too," the head coach said after Tuesday's practice. "It kind of reminds me a little bit and you might think I'm crazy about the comparison but it's a little bit like (Tennessee Titans Pro Bowl running back) Chris Johnson's rookie year in training camp where you kept saying, 'Gosh, if this was a game do you think he'd score on that?' Well now it's like, 'Boy if this was a game, he'd have a few sacks by the time the game's over, right?'"

    In one particular pass rush drill on Tuesday afternoon when defensive line coach Mike Waufle and assistant line coach Clyde Simmons had the big boys weave through four heavy bags then sprint to a fifth bag that was supposed to be the quarterback, if you closed your eyes, you'd still know when it was Quinn's turn just by the sound.

    There were all these 280- and 300-pound monsters thumping their way around the tackling dummies with violent, heavy-handed, teeth-rattling open-palmed swings that sent the bags bouncing hard off the ground.

    From 15 yards away, you could hear and feel the impact of these blows vibrating. It was the sound and fury of sheer power of very large, very physical men pounding the daylights out of the bags with anger and unadulterated violence.


    Then it was Quinn's turn.


    It was the sound of a saber slicing through the air. He was whacking the same bags with his long arms extended to his full 82-inch wingspan. But when Quinn delivered his blows, they were lightning-quick strikes that created a different disturbance. It was the difference between a fat guy doing a cannon ball into the pool and an Olympic diver slicing into the water barely creating a ripple.

    He flashed a wide, self-satisfied smile when someone brought that up to him.

    "It's all about speed," he said. "Moving fast. Moving quick."

    Sitting under a misting tent after practice, Quinn was surprised when told how impressive his practice had been. "To be honest with you, I thought I had an awful practice," he said. "But that's how I always am. I try to think that every day is going to be the best practice I ever had, but I'm so hard on myself and I end up focusing on all the things I think I did wrong. It's always good to focus on the things you did well in practice, but for me to become a better player, I tend to focus in on the negative, things I can correct to become a better player. So for me, I concentrate on the things you did well and keep on trying to perfect those, and work on the bad things and try to improve those."

    Ask him if he has a goal to hit double digits in sacks, and he quickly shakes his head. Instead he tells you about trying to become a complete player, better on the run, being able to shove an offensive lineman back five yards every play and disrupt a play by sheer force. "That's what Coach Waufle keeps emphasizing every day to us," he said. "He wants me to be able to do everything and that's what I want to do."

    And when it comes to the thing he does best, which is getting after the quarterback, Quinn says he'll be counting sack totals this year, just not the ones you expect. "I really don't have a personal goal," he said. "But Coach Waufle has been saying since Day 1, 'Break the NFL record for most (team) sacks.' So I am more concerned with that and if you look at the talent we have on defense with all our linemen, I think we can do it. If we as a team break that record, that's what I will be satisfied with, not the individual stuff. This year is totally different than last year. We're looking at the big picture."

    And the big picture means that if Quinn, Long, Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford and all the other linemen are even remotely close to chasing the 1984 Chicago Bears record of 72 sacks as a team, then the big picture ought to mean a huge improvement for the Rams.

Related Topics


  • MauiRam
    Quinn Poised for Big Second Season ..
    by MauiRam
    By Nick Wagoner
    June 13th

    Offered the opportunity to choose a young teammate or two who has impressed him in the past month of Organized Team Activities and this weeks full squad minicamp, Rams running back Steven Jackson paused for a moment and considered the possibilities.

    While qualifying his answer with the caveat that hed be better equipped to answer the question in August or September after the Rams have gone through some padded practices and training camp, Jackson eventually tabbed one young teammate he believes could be poised for a breakthrough season.

    Who Im looking forward to watching this year is Robert Quinn, Jackson said. I think hes a natural pass rusher. I think working on the opposite side of Chris Long, and the coaching that hes receiving right now. Im really looking forward for him to have a breakout season. If theres anyone Id tell our fans to look for, itd be Robert.

    Its a sentiment that Jackson shares with a fair number of other people both inside and out of the Rams locker room. As the most tenured veteran on the team, Jackson might be the most qualified to identify which of his returning young teammates is ready to take the next step.

    But Quinns potential ascent is also evident to those who are just settling into St. Louis such as free agent addition Kendall Langford, who lines up at defensive tackle alongside the Rams second-year defensive end.

    To me, Robert is a speed guy with explosion, Langford said. He has anchor, he has power. If you look at him, he is giving these offensive linemen fits. Its good to see a young guy like that who is working to get better. Hes going out and improving every day. He looks great out here. He works hardI just dont see a chink in his armor.

    The proposition of a much-improved Quinn could prove dangerous for opposing quarterbacks considering that Quinn enters his second NFL season not only just scratching the surface of his immense potential but also lining up opposite Chris Long, who is a more established pass rushing nightmare in his own right.

    For Quinn, though, this season will be his first to truly show what he can do after the Rams used the 14th overall pick on him in the 2011 NFL Draft out of North Carolina.

    When the Rams made the selection, there was little doubting Quinns athleticism but there were plenty of questions about what he could produce considering he had sat out the 2010 season for the Tar Heels because he received illegal benefits.

    That missed year not only cost Quinn a full season to refine and develop his skills but also made him something of an unknown commodity.
    I think, not for myself, I think for a lot of fans when we drafted him, a lot of people were, Who is that guy? He didnt have a chance to play, Jackson said. With him having a year off and then having a rookie season last...
    -06-13-2012, 04:13 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Burwell: Rams' Quinn Gets Key Test vs. Miami's Long
    by r8rh8rmike
    Burwell: Rams' Quinn gets key test vs. Miami's Long

    1 hour ago BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist

    MIAMI Young football players are supposed to crave games like this. They call them "reputation games."

    These are the glossy opportunity-knocking moments that can raise your individual profile into the galaxy, shouting out loud to the pro football world that you are a star on the rise.

    So why isn't young Rams pass-rushing machine Robert Quinn spending a lot of time pondering the possibilities that Sunday's mano-a-mano duel against Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jake Long could be a clear-cut measuring stick that can not only bolster his confidence, but also burnish his image as one of the NFL's rising defensive stars?

    He greets that question with a simple shrug of the shoulders. People keep asking him about Long. They keep wondering how jacked up he is to face the four-time Pro Bowler, a former No.1 overall pick, and the imposing left tackle who many NFL wise guys consider to be the physical standard by which all young offensive tackles should be measured.

    "But I'm not sure Robert sees it that way because he's such a quiet guy," says teammate Jo-Lonn Dunbar, a linebacker. "He always tells me I don't have to yell or scream to make plays. I'm sure he is excited about the match-up, but I'm sure Robert's not going to ever say those things."

    But this is one of those wonderful match-ups that make NFL Sundays special. Quinn, 22, is a physical freak who seems to have been chiseled into the perfect frame for a pass-rushing nightmare. At 6 feet 4 and 264 pounds, his body is tapered from these broad shoulders to narrow waist and long, slightly bowed legs that make him look like some mad scientist stacked a perfectly muscular wrestler's triangular upper body onto a pair of sprinter's legs. The second-year first-round pick from North Carolina is tied for third in the NFL in sacks, with six, including three in the team's last game, against Arizona.

    "He's a physical freak of nature," Rams defensive tackle Kendall Lankford says. "Rob has incredible body control. You watch him rush the edge and his body is doing things that are almost impossible. The way he bends his hips, the way he can get off the edge with his body so low to the ground, the way he can then swing his arms and make an inside move. He just really understands leverage. He used to wrestle, so all the bending and things come natural to him. I always tell him he looks like one of those (wind sock characters), you know those long things that just blow in the wind with their arms flailing every which way?

    "Well that's Rob, because his body is so flimsy like that," Lankford says. "He's an incredible talent. He just has a knack for getting to the quarterback."

    In his...
    -10-13-2012, 09:06 PM
  • MauiRam
    Rams expect Quinn to step up in Year 2 ..
    by MauiRam
    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    As an NFL neophyte, Robert Quinn was part of a time-share at right defensive end with veteran James Hall last season. Strangely, coach Steve Spagnuolo didn't even dress Quinn — the No. 14 overall pick in the 2011 draft — in the season opener. He was a healthy scratch, and a pregame inactive.

    When all was said and done, Quinn played about half the snaps last season and had modest success, with five sacks, 14 quarterback hits and three blocked or partially blocked punts.

    His sack total was the third-highest in franchise history for a Rams rookie, and in a vote by the players Quinn earned the Carroll Rosenbloom Memorial Award as the team's rookie of the year.

    Nonetheless, there was plenty of room for improvement. Twelve rookies had more sacks than Quinn last season, and he wasn't always stout against the run.

    With Jeff Fisher now on board as head coach, Hall no longer on the team and a new defensive scheme in place, there will be no easing Quinn into action in 2012. He is the team's starting right end, and a full-time player. To say expectations are sky-high for him at Rams Park almost is an understatement.

    "There's nothing but upside with Robert," said Mike Waufle, the Rams' new defensive line coach. "When you're a student of the game, you've got a chance to be able to progress faster. The second thing is that he has speed. He's 'God-gifted' like crazy from top to bottom, and this is a speed game."

    A highly-respected line coach, Waufle spent the past two seasons with the Oakland Raiders but is best known for his work with the New York Giants from 2004-09. With the Giants, he coached the likes of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiori. With Oakland, he coached Richard Seymour. So Waufle knows what a top-flight defensive lineman looks like.

    Quinn has that kind of potential.

    "I'm very pleased at his ability to rush the passer because he's working on a number of different moves, a number of different techniques, and he's had success—at times — with each and every one of them," Waufle said. "So we can see that progression. And through spaced repetitions, hopefully they're going to develop into habits."

    But you can't play defense for Fisher if you can't play the run, and Quinn is making strides in that area as well.

    "That's been an area of emphasis up front on the defensive line this offseason — run techniques," Fisher said. "It's hard to do it without pads on. But he's really come on. His strength has really improved significantly and he's going to be what they (the prior regime) drafted him to be. We're very fortunate to have him."

    Waufle also sees the improvement in Quinn's run defense, albeit in the controlled spring environment without pads and with much...
    -06-14-2012, 09:49 AM
  • MauiRam
    Quinn is starting to contribute for Rams ..
    by MauiRam
    Monday, August 29, 2011 12:15 am

    Robert Quinn broke through Kansas City's line, fought off a holding penalty against Chiefs tackle Jared Gaither and brought quarterback Ricky Stanzi to the ground early in the second quarter.

    It was Quinn's first sack in the pros, albeit in a preseason game. The defensive end from North Carolina, just three months removed from his 21st birthday, marked the occasion with, well, with nothing really. No sack dance here.

    "I think I'll save my little celebration for the regular season," Quinn chuckled. "Nothing just yet."

    Last year, Quinn had nothing to celebrate at North Carolina. He sat out the entire season after it came to light that he accepted benefits not allowed by the NCAA. So Friday's sack was his first since Nov. 21, 2009 at Boston College, a 31-13 victory for the Tar Heels.

    "It definitely felt good," Quinn said. "It's been a while since I had one of those. I feel like I'm getting my legs back up under me. And with the good group of core veterans on the D-line and really on the defense they just support me, trying to help me, I guess, mature faster as a young player. I really try to take their advice, learn from them, and help make a play."

    Besides the sack, Quinn made another big play in the Rams' 14-10 Governor's Cup victory over the Chiefs, blocking a 21-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Succop with just under 3 minutes remaining in the game.

    Quinn got through almost untouched from the left side of the St. Louis line and used his 6-foot-4 frame and 34-inch vertical leap to bat down the kick.

    "I was just right there at my basic end spot and got through," Quinn said. "It definitely was (exciting) when I heard it smack off my hand."

    Quinn had a big smile on his face when he came over to the Rams' sideline after the block, which helped preserve the Rams' third victory in as many tries this preseason. It's those kinds of plays be they the blocked field goal or the sack that could have Rams coaches smiling this season and beyond.

    "He will help us this year as he learns to play that (end) position," defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said. "He's been out of football. Last year, as you know, he didn't get a chance to play. So we're knocking the rust off a little bit.

    "It was encouraging to see him play the other night against Kansas City. It looked like he was starting to come on. You're seeing the signs of progress, things that he does on the practice field he's now being able to transfer them into the game."

    There is a learning curve for all NFL rookies, regardless of position. Quinn's was compounded by:

    The lost 2010 season in college.

    The fact that there were no minicamps, OTAs or contact...
    -08-29-2011, 01:13 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Wagoner: Quinn Stakes Claim As Defensive POY
    by r8rh8rmike
    Quinn stakes claim as defensive POY

    December, 15, 2013
    By Nick Wagoner |

    ST. LOUIS -- After spending the bulk of the first three quarters watching Rams defensive end Robert Quinn almost single-handedly wreck his offensive game plan, Saints coach Sean Payton reached his breaking point.

    "I saw enough," Payton said. "I saw enough, period. It was enough; penalties, pressures, sacks, it was enough. At some point you just can't keep watching it. Feelings get hurt, it is tough."

    When Payton says he'd seen enough, he's referring to the futile attempts of left tackle Charles Brown to block Quinn. By the time Payton pulled the plug on Brown and moved right tackle Zach Strief from the right side to the left, Quinn's damage had already been done.

    In unofficial pressbox statistics, Quinn had five tackles, two sacks, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He also drew penalties for holding and illegal hands to the face and those were just the ones that were called.

    Not that Brown should feel too bad, Quinn's made a habit of hurting feelings all over the league in this, his breakout season. Quinn's dominance has been so thorough that his teammates are ready to make the case that the trail of tears left in his wake should lead directly to some of the league's most prized awards.

    "If there were any justice in the world, he'd be defensive player of the tear," Rams end Chris Long said. "There are guys on teams that are constantly playing with leads and a ton more opportunities than he has and are not doing the numbers that he does. He's just flat out dominant. Understanding what we've done record wise and maybe a little bit of the market issue, when it comes to awards like that, you are not always going to get the right people."

    "It's hard not to have him in the conversation at least because to us, he's the defensive player of the year," defensive tackle Kendall Langford said.

    Quinn's totals for the season certainly place him among the heady company required to garner consideration for that accolade. Through 14 games, he has 15 sacks, just two shy of the Rams' franchise record for a season and the most in the NFC.

    Perhaps more meaningful, Quinn has eight forced fumbles, the most in the NFL and a pair of fumble recoveries, one he returned for a touchdown.

    Even when Quinn isn't getting home for a sack or a forced fumble, he's finding ways to destroy opposing offenses. On New Orleans' first offensive play from scrimmage, Quinn fought through every tactic in the book to get to quarterback Drew Brees just as he delivered the ball.

    Safety T.J. McDonald came up with the interception, the Rams scored a touchdown on the next play and never looked back.

    "I don't...
    -12-16-2013, 10:58 AM