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Rams DT Brockers poised for breakthrough .. Nick Wagoner

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  • Rams DT Brockers poised for breakthrough .. Nick Wagoner

    By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com

    Halfway through St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers' rookie season he found himself wondering if he was going to be able to have the kind of impact expected of the 14th pick in the NFL draft.

    The first half of the season had essentially been a wash as Brockers dealt with the lingering effects of a high ankle sprain suffered in the preseason finale. He returned in Week 4 but the ankle injury didn’t allow him to perform the way he’d hoped.

    Things were so bad that Brockers doesn’t even like the mention of the first eight games of his career. He prefers not to watch the game film from his first five appearances.

    “I can’t put it into words from my mouth because it was just really bad,” Brockers said. “When I look at myself toward the end of the season and look at myself toward the beginning of the season, my stance has changed, I’m coming off the ball different, I’m reading plays different, everything is different when you first get into the league because everything is going fast and I had the ankle so I’m playing tentative. It really was bad tape to watch. I hate watching it but now that we moved on to different games and later in the season, I am just trying to progress off of that really.”

    Brockers’ breakthrough performance came right at the beginning of the second half of the season. Motivated by the opportunity to face San Francisco’s tough, physical offensive line, namely guard Mike Iupati, Brockers said it was in that Week 10 game that he finally put all thoughts about his ankle out of his mind.

    “The game I like to play is smashmouth football,” Brockers said. “That game really put a lot of pressure on the ankle. After that, I was like ‘this ankle can hold up’ and I can go out and play. I think that was the turning point.”

    Brockers never looked back in the second half of the season though he had his share of ups and downs, as rookies tend to do. He again gave San Francisco fits in Week 13, and put on another dominant performance against Buffalo the following week.

    That late-season performance combined with an offseason in which he has reshaped his body has many observers believing that Brockers, on a team full of young potential, is the most likely to emerge into a full blown star in 2013.

    “Mike did a great job coming back off the high ankle (injury), and really finished up strong toward the second half of the season,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “He’s worked very hard. He’s changed his body, and we think he can be a dominating player inside.”

    The changing of the body has seemed like something of a neverending process for Brockers, even dating to before he entered the league. Brockers arrived at the 2012 scouting combine around 322 pounds but dropped down to closer to 310 through the draining process of draft preparation.

    Brockers put some of that weight back on as he dealt with the ankle injury, but it wasn’t the type of weight he’d hoped. After the season, Brockers wanted to make it a point to turn that weight into muscle and refine his already massive frame.

    After having surgery to remove bone spurs from his other ankle, Brockers returned to LSU to work out and spent extra time with Rams strength coach Rock Gullickson.

    Brockers said he didn’t do anything special in terms of altering his workouts and tweaking his diet a bit. Entering this season, Brockers checked in at 326 pounds, heavier than he played at any point last season but he says the majority of that is 9 pounds of muscle mass he added in the offseason.

    “I’m heavier but I feel better,” Brockers said. “It’s all for the better and I think this weight hasn’t done anything but make me more explosive, make me better and more powerful.”

    As with any second-year player, Brockers is still a work in progress. He was considered a bit raw coming out of LSU anyway, particularly as a pass-rusher, but he actually exceeded expectations in that regard with four sacks as a rookie.

    Pro Football Focus gave Brockers a neutral cumulative grade of 0.0 for rushing the passer in 2012. Individual game grades were up and down so the onus falls on Brockers to find more consistency.

    Brockers says he spent a lot of his offseason working on little details like hand placement, footwork and pad level. All of those things still require plenty of polish.

    New defensive coordinator Tim Walton plans on using Brockers in a variety of ways, too.

    “He’s a stud up front,” Walton said. “He’s a big athlete. He gives you a lot of flexibility. Also, being able to play a 2-technique, 1-technique, 3-technique, put him right over the center in the zero -- so he gives you a lot of flexibility because he’s athletic. He can run, you can widen him out a little bit and get him on the edge, so that’s a valuable option for him also.”

    Fisher has often said that most players make their biggest improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. If that holds true for Brockers, big things are in store in 2013. But perhaps the real upside may not even come until his third year given the fact the first half of his first season was essentially a wash.

    If Brockers can develop as he and the Rams hope, it would make for a potentially devastating defensive line. Ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long are more known commodities and that group led the way for a team that finished tied for first with Denver in sacks a year ago.

    Still, a closer look at those sack numbers reveal a defense that occasionally got sacks in bunches (nine came in one game against Arizona) rather than consistent pass rush throughout the season. A big part of that inconsistency was a need for push up the middle.

    Brockers’ continued development inside would only buoy the work on the edge by the likes of Quinn and Long, and allow them to finish more plays rather than watch quarterbacks step up into a more comfortable spot in the pocket.

    Another step forward for Brockers would equal another step forward for the defense. It’s a step he says he’s ready to take.

    “Definitely, if you are in this league and you don’t think that, there’s something wrong with you because you are playing against the top athletes in the world,” Brockers said. “And you have to feel like you are one of the best or can be one of the best. That’s an awesome feeling. Going into this season, that’s how I feel and if I come out to work every day and practice hard and play hard then the sky is the limit.”

  • #2
    Re: Rams DT Brockers poised for breakthrough .. Nick Wagoner

    Brockers is the kind of guy who has that undeniable will to succeed, and excel. IMO, he has the best chance of any Ram to be an All-Pro.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams DT Brockers poised for breakthrough .. Nick Wagoner

      I thought he got hurt in preseason...I take it he is good to GO?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Rams DT Brockers poised for breakthrough .. Nick Wagoner

        Originally posted by Ram Dragoon View Post
        I thought he got hurt in preseason...I take it he is good to GO?
        He got hurt last preseason. This year he's good to go.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Rams DT Brockers poised for breakthrough .. Nick Wagoner

          Originally posted by R8rh8rmike View Post
          Brockers is the kind of guy who has that undeniable will to succeed, and excel. IMO, he has the best chance of any Ram to be an All-Pro.
          Agreed. MB may become a monster. Hopefully CLong will join that elite group!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Rams DT Brockers poised for breakthrough .. Nick Wagoner

            Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
            He got hurt last preseason. This year he's good to go.
            That, and he's added a few pounds of muscle in the offseason - apparently legally - I should add ..

            Comment

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            • r8rh8rmike
              Fear The Beard: Healthy Brockers Ready To Take Next Step
              by r8rh8rmike
              Fear the beard: Healthy Brockers ready to take next step

              11 hours ago • By Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197

              Michael Brockers’ beard can best be described as prolific, even biblical.

              “It’s coming along very well,” said Brockers, the Rams’ second-year defensive tackle. “At LSU, I just had a little chin (hair) going, but now I think the all-out beard really makes me look dominant. Beard equals sacks. And I think sacks are good for me right now.”

              Brockers was joking, but the goal definitely is to take the next step as an NFL defensive tackle, whether it’s sacks, tackles for loss — what have you — and become a force in the middle of the St. Louis front four.

              “Mike did a great job coming back off the high ankle (sprain), and really finished up strong toward the second half of the (2012) season,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “He’s worked very hard. He’s changed his body, and we think he can be a dominating player inside.”

              A high ankle sprain in the Rams’ 2012 preseason finale against Baltimore sidelined Brockers for the first three games of his rookie season. High ankle sprains can take forever to heal — just ask Sam Bradford — and Brockers felt lingering effects of the injury throughout the season.

              Even so, he came on strong over the second half of the year, playing very much like the No. 14 overall pick in the draft. At season’s end, he joined cornerback Janoris Jenkins as the first Rams since 2003 to make the NFL’s all-rookie team. Brockers’ season totals included 63 tackles, four sacks and 17 QB pressures or hits. All in all it made for a good start in the NFL, but Brockers wants more this season.

              “I can’t even see the ceiling yet,” Brockers said during practices in June. “I want to keep progressing from here on in, and I just keep doing my thing. The ankle is fine. I have no excuses now and I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to do great things.”

              The high ankle sprain, to Brockers’ right ankle, is long behind him. In addition, Brockers underwent cleanup surgery in February to remove bone chips in his left ankle. He believes that procedure corrected carryover symptoms from an injury at LSU that irritated his foot last season.

              “When I’m in my stance, it really pinched on nerves,” Brockers said after a recent training camp practice. “Now that that’s out I can just feel me being more explosive off the ball, getting in the backfield real quick.”

              Brockers now has two good wheels and has increased his overall weight and upper-body strength.

              “He’s changed his body,” Fisher said. “He’s gained some weight, but it’s good weight. He’s gained a tremendous amount of strength.”

              Brockers weighed in at 325 pounds for training camp after playing around 318 to 320 as a rookie. An extra five to seven pounds may not sound like much, but for a finely tuned pro...
              -07-30-2013, 09:47 AM
            • Rambos
              Brockers Getting Comfortable
              by Rambos
              Nick Wagoner

              A little more than two weeks ago, rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers found himself getting ready to step on the field for his first NFL game.

              Preseason or not, Brockers was nervous, butterflies in the stomach, on the verge of vomit type of nervous. In fact, Brockers found himself so anxious that he spent more time worrying about letting his teammates down than staying focused on the task at hand.

              Upon the first contact of that game, those nerves went away but Brockers walked away knowing that he needed to get back to his fundamentals taught by line coach Mike Waufle in order to fare better last week against Kansas City.

              “Use the basics Coach Waufle is teaching us,” Brockers said. “Finish getting back to the quarterback, putting pressure on him and stuff like that. I feel like if you get back to the basics, everything will work out like you want it to.”

              From game one to game two, progress was made for Brockers, not only in his eyes but in the eyes of coach Jeff Fisher. He finished with four tackles and was regularly a force against the run, taking on multiple blockers and allowing teammates to run free to the ball.

              Like any rookie, Brockers has had his share of ups and downs in his first training camp but so far he seems to have pushed through it and is working to make progress daily in the preseason.

              “He’s doing well,” Fisher said. “He might be a little tired, but he’ll get his legs back. He was a force inside. His pad level was good. He had some good pressures inside. That’s a big offensive line and they were clearly set out to protect the quarterback through the play action pass, but they were also banging on our ends. So he either had a 1-on-1 or he had a double. When he had a 1-on-1 he was getting good pressure.”

              As the Rams’ first round pick – No. 14 overall – in April, Brockers was saddled with the task of jumping into the starting lineup almost immediately and being a consistent presence in the middle of the line that could help the Rams heretofore porous run defense.

              When Brockers arrived in St. Louis, he checked in at an imposing 6’5, 323 pounds and plugged in next to Kendall Langford on an emerging defensive line. The expectation was that Brockers would be helpful against the run right away while Waufle helped him develop some needed pass rush skills.

              The first thing asked of Brockers had nothing to do with any details of his game.

              “They asked me to trim down a little bit which was OK with me,” Brockers said. “I can see the goal of where I’m supposed to be in the first place. I don’t mind trimming down some more and I’ll be even better than I was when I first started camp.”

              When Brockers was drafted, he was about 11 pounds heavier than what he played at when he was at Louisiana State. The added weight didn’t seem to bother his conditioning much...
              -08-20-2012, 01:42 PM
            • MauiRam
              Brockers expects quick transition ..
              by MauiRam
              Steve Holley
              Sports Correspondent
              Monday, July 23, 2012

              Michael Brockers needed only one season as a starter on the defensive line at LSU before becoming a first-round selection in this year's NFL draft. Now Brockers, a former LSU defensive tackle entering his rookie season in the NFL, expects to make a quick transition at the next level with a defensive unit looking to rebuild after finishing 22nd in the league in total defense a season ago.

              Brockers was selected 14th overall in the first-round of the 2012 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams this past April after playing two seasons at LSU.

              The Houston, Texas, native started all 14 games at defensive tackle for the Tigers last season and finished with 54 tackles, two sacks, and 10 tackles for a loss.

              "(The Rams) have a 4-3 attack like I played with at LSU. I feel it's going to be good and that I fit in comfortable," said Brockers, who attended the Pro Football Combine Camp at Nicholls State's John L. Guidry Stadium on Saturday.

              Despite LSU losing to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans, Brockers ended his collegiate career on a high note, finishing with a career-high seven tackles in the game.

              Brockers said his decision to enter the draft was primarily due to family matters.

              "Playing with the guys I came in (to LSU) with, we wanted to win a championship," Brockers said. "It made the decision (to go pro) very difficult, but I had to be able to go and choose what was best for me and my family."

              Brockers' decision to choose LSU over scholarship offers from Texas A&M and Texas Tech coming out of high school had a lot to do with the Tigers' history and reputation, and their style of play in the SEC, he said.

              "Mostly it had to do with watching their defense," he said. "Just the tradition, it was LSU in general. I was an LSU fan when I was in 8th grade, so I wanted to go to LSU if they offered me a scholarship. Luckily, they did."

              The expectation level with Brockers' current team is going to be a bit different — at least in the beginning — from his college team.

              At LSU, Brockers played in front of sellout crowds of over 92,000 every home game and on teams that were expected to compete for championships most every year.

              With the Rams, he'll be playing for a team that had the NFL's second lowest attendance total a season ago and who hasn't reached the playoffs since the 2004 season.

              None of that deters Brockers, who said his expectations with the Rams are as high as they were at LSU.

              "They say it's different and the stadium (Edward Jones Dome) is not as big, but they talk about how St. Louis Rams fans get rowdy," Brockers said. "As far as expectations, I'm going to go into the season wanting to...
              -07-24-2012, 08:02 PM
            • Battering_RAMS
              Rams DL Michael Brockers shining at a new position
              by Battering_RAMS
              Anyone notice him playing DE last week? I saw him there a couple times, but didn't realize he switched positions.



              THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Michael Brockers was a little bit more nervous than usual heading into Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. The veteran nose tackle was going to start as the 5-technique, which means he would line up on the outside shoulder of the opposing tackle. Brockers hadn't done that since high school. Michael Brockers (90) played more snaps at what's essentially a defensive-end spot in the Rams' Week 4 victory at Dallas and notched his first sack of the season. AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth
              "You get that first hit and you’re like, ‘OK, it’s time to go -- don’t worry about being wrong, being exact, just go,’" Brockers said. "After that, it came naturally. "

              Brockers picked up his first sack of the season in that game, a 35-30 victory by his Los Angeles Rams. He also recorded two additional hits on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and deflected two passes, one of which led to Mark Barron's interception. Brockers became only the third defensive lineman with two pass breakups in one game this season, joining Kony Ealy of the New York Jets and Willie Henry of the Baltimore Ravens.

              And Brockers -- 6-foot-5, 302 pounds -- did most of that while basically lining up as a defensive end, the more glamorous position that usually comes with higher sack totals. According to ESPN's internal statistics, Brockers took 36 of his 53 snaps as a right defensive end or a left defensive end, after combining for only 13 snaps in those spots through the first three weeks.

              "He’s a really good player at any position he plays," said Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who started rookie Tanzel Smart at Brockers' original spot of nose tackle. "We just told him he’s stronger, especially against the big offensive tackles that Dallas had. He played really well against those guys, so that shows you how good he can be.”

              Brockers, in his sixth season with the Rams, has been graded the NFL's eighth-best interior defender by Pro Football Focus.

              The 26-year-old was told by Phillips last week that he would be seeing most of his upcoming workload as a defensive end, and he was a little hesitant at first.

              "But for him to see me as a playmaker, and to open it up and give me those opportunities, I appreciate it," Brockers said. "I just want to show him that he didn’t make the wrong decision and I can get the job done. ... Inside, I wanted to show the world what I had. You want to be a team player, you want to do what you have to for the team, but at the same time, sometimes you want to get those little accolades, to get those sacks and hear your name called. It feels good to help this team out and make those big plays."...
              -10-06-2017, 11:38 AM
            • Rambos
              Brockers getting closer
              by Rambos
              by nick wagoner


              Coach Jeff Fisher said the Rams made it through the game relatively clean and actually made mention of the Rams getting healthier, namely on the defensive front.

              That means that DTs Michael Brockers and Matt Conrath could be back in the mix next week. Brockers, in particular, seems to be on track. He actually went through a pre-game warmup workout with strength coach Rock Gullickson. It looks good for the prized rookie’s return sooner than later.
              -09-24-2012, 01:00 PM
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