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Rams' Joyner eager to make his mark

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  • Rams' Joyner eager to make his mark

    Rams' Joyner eager to make his mark
    21 hours ago • By Joe Lyons

    Lamarcus Joyner’s football mantra — Everybody has a plan until they get hit — was forged on the sandlots near the Victory Homes projects in Liberty City, one of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s rougher neighborhoods.

    Joyner, a gifted defensive back from Florida State selected by the Rams in the second round of the recent NFL draft, started playing football with his older brothers and their friends. He was put to the test early and came away with a toughness and an edge that prevails to this day.

    “That’s just something that I’ve learned in life,’’ he said. “Just from the background I come from, the area I come from, you always have the kids around the neighborhood who think they’re the baddest and the toughest until they get hit back.’’

    The second-youngest of Rose Joyner’s five children, Lamarcus saw and dealt with more than his share of tough times as a youngster in the projects. But after vowing never to disappoint his mother, he stuck to a plan of using education and football as his escape.

    “I’ve been running away from that place all my life, which is why I do what I do on the field and in the weight room and the way I respect people,’’ the 23-year-old said. “I just kept my faith in the Lord. ... To add on to what he has already given me with my ability, I just added the extra work and listened to the great men in my life.

    “To be here, far from where I come from, there’s no better feeling. It’s a dream come true.’’

    For their part, the Rams feel similarly blessed to have Joyner, a talented and versatile defender who also can return kicks.

    “We’re really excited about him,’’ Rams coach Jeff Fisher said during a draft-day news conference. “He’s just an outstanding player. He played all over their defense. He played outside, he played in the slot, he played high, he blitzed, so he’s a plug-in day one nickelback.

    “Typically, the nickel is aligned on the slot or around the line of scrimmage. He’s very, very aggressive, tackles well (and) he’s an outstanding blitzer.’’

    And Joyner, a hitter who plays bigger than his 5-foot-8, 182-pound frame would suggest, seems a perfect fit for the attack-minded scheme employed by new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

    “I think I fit great in this defense,’’ Joyner said. “I love the mentality of Gregg Williams. He’s a very aggressive coach and I’m a very aggressive player. I think I’m a guy who can have an impact.’’

    After three seasons commuting across town to Southwest High to escape his neighborhood, Joyner finished his prep career at perennial private-school power St. Thomas Aquinas and was named USA Today national defensive player of the year.

    As the top-rated cornerback prospect in America, Joyner had scholarship offers from virtually every major program in the country and chose Florida State. There, he didn’t miss a game over four seasons and started the final 40, including 27 at safety in 2011 and 2012, then 13 last fall after a shift to cornerback.

    “People will shoot me for (saying) it, but he’s like Ed Reed in that he has great instincts, he has great range,’’ then-Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said during Joyner’s junior season. “And maybe physically there are better guys, but when you put it all together (they are) pretty doggone good football players, with the passion, the instincts, the ability to be coached and the ability to make big plays.’’

    When Stoops, Joyner’s mentor, left after the 2012 season to become head coach at the University of Tennessee, Joyner considered an early exit to the NFL.

    But as part of the first recruiting class of Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher, Joyner stuck it out and continued to thrive at cornerback under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

    A key player and team leader last season for the 14-0 national champions, Joyner led the squad in sacks (5½) and was second in tackles (69). He also posted career bests in tackles for loss (seven) and forced fumbles (three) while intercepting two passes and defending four others.

    As a Seminole, he averaged more than 24 yards a return on 52 kickoffs.

    After nine defensive backs were selected in the opening round of the draft, the Rams sacrificed a fifth-round pick to move up three spots to nab Joyner 41st overall.

    “He was clearly the guy that we identified and we suspected that there was a team ahead of us that had interest in him, so we had to get above them,’’ Fisher said. “We didn’t want to lose him.”

    Joyner was flattered by the Rams’ decision to move up.

    “That was so special,’’ he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, all these great guys on the board, there’s so much talent that these guys could have picked from.’ I felt as though they made a sacrifice for me and I’m good with returning favors. I’m going to give all my heart, all my soul, to this organization.’’

  • #2
    Re: Rams' Joyner eager to make his mark

    Thanks for the link Nick. There have been a few articles/interviews I've seen of this kid and like what they've shown us. He's gonna be huge in this defense and can't wait to see it.
    The restoration is complete!


    • #3
      Re: Rams' Joyner eager to make his mark

      Fisher drafted this kid to leave the forum of welts and bruises. He's a hitter with cover skills, more the former then the latter.

      Look at Joyner from the Squawks/49whinner point of view. They have 6 divisional battle its a tough over all schedule and there is the playoffs...lastly football is as much an attrition game as one of having the right players at the right time. The last element is directly at odds with itself, for it is hard to have the right players at the right time when many are injured.

      If your a WR and you just had your bell rung the previous play, how likely are you willing to self yourself in the next? And that is what I think Fisher and G. Williams are saying to the rest of the division. And that is the make up of the Rams strategy...crush you with the front 7 and punish you with the remaining 4. The net affect is to encourage teams to attempt to run the ball rather then drop back their QB and throwing it, having two potentially disasters happening at either end of the play


      • #4
        Re: Rams' Joyner eager to make his mark

        ...A perfect fit for the attack-minded scheme employed by new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. - Article
        Really, really like this rookie. From listening to a couple of interviews and checking a few highlights, he seems like having excellent skills, determination, and character.

        Rooting for LJ, for sure. - -


        • #5
          Re: Rams' Joyner eager to make his mark

          You gotta love the kid's attitude. I just hope his slight structure holds up at the next level.
          The more things change, the more they stay the same.


          • #6
            Re: Rams' Joyner eager to make his mark

            I'm a big fan of this pick, so really hoping this pans out! Good luck to him


            • #7
              Re: Rams' Joyner eager to make his mark

              little man wrecking ball.... sounds like the perfect replacement for Finnegan.


              Related Topics


              • MauiRam
                Rams' Joyner making progress going into Year 2
                by MauiRam
                By Nate Latsch

                ST. LOUIS — Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner described his rookie season as a “humbling experience” after the team’s OTA session on Thursday.
                “Definitely a humbling experience for me, both on the field, off the field — there’s just a lot of things that come with this league,” he said.

                The Rams’ second-round pick (No. 41 overall) in 2014 out of Florida State, the diminutive defensive back failed to make much of an impact for the team during his debut season.

                Drafted to man the nickel cornerback position in Gregg Williams’ aggressive defense, Joyner finished with 48 tackles, three passes defensed, one sack and one quarterback pressure in 10 games.

                Joyner struggled early on, came on after a slow start but was then sidelined by an injury. He returned for the final two games.

                What was the hardest part about his rookie campaign?

                “Just adapting. Just learning the system. Just coming from a successful year at the college level and you think you know everything and you’re just on the wrong path, you need to get adjusted,” Joyner said. “Coach (Gregg) Williams was a great example of molding me out of that and molding me into the young man I am now.”

                What the 5-foot-8, 184-pound defensive back is now is a player who is far more aware of what he is doing in the Rams’ defensive scheme, a player fighting for snaps among the team’s cornerbacks and a player who has earned some praise for his play so far during OTAs.

                “I feel like my approach is different and that’s probably coming from the more understanding I have, the more wisdom I have and just knowing what I’m doing,” Joyner said. “Instead of running out there like a blind dog in a meat house and you don’t know which way to go, I know what I’m doing, so now I can pretty much contribute to the defense.”

                How much different does Joyner feel now within the defense than he was a year ago as a rookie second-round pick? Joyner said the coaches have used the words “light years” to describe the difference.

                “I feel great, I feel like I’m settled in, I’m there mentally, which is the most important part at this level,” Joyner said. “I’m already blessed with the God-given physical ability, so I’m pretty caught up.”

                Joyner said he is now at the point where is able to react to what is unfolding instead of having to think about what he should do.

                He’s come a long way over the past year, a period of time with plenty of ups and downs for the second-round pick who helped Florida State win a national championship in his final season with the Seminoles.

                Joyner took some time after his rookie season to reflect and refocus.

                “I definitely got away and had to refocus and ask myself what it is about this game that makes me want to come to work every day and I came to the realization that I still love football,”...
                -06-13-2015, 01:16 AM
              • r8rh8rmike
                Rams CB Lamarcus Joyner breaks toe, plays anyway, shines
                by r8rh8rmike
                Rams CB Lamarcus Joyner breaks toe, plays anyway, shines

                Lamarcus Joyner was rated the NFL's best slot corner in Week 2 by Pro Football Focus. Keith Birmingham/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire 9:55 PM PT

                Alden Gonzalez ESPN Staff Writer

                THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- It was early in the second quarter last Monday, in the season opener against the San Francisco *****, when Lamarcus Joyner's left foot suddenly fell asleep. The third-year cornerback finished the Los Angeles Rams' stand on defense, then walked gingerly toward the sideline and noticed that his second toe would not move.

                He knew then that it was broken, but he also knew that no one else would.

                "I didn’t really want to say anything to anyone because I knew the defense was depending on me," Joyner said. "We didn’t have anyone else that ran nickel throughout the week, so I knew I just had to be accountable for the defense. I just kept my mouth closed and kept playing."

                Joyner finished that game, then played in the next one six days later, a 9-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks that was driven almost entirely by a supreme defensive effort. With a broken toe, the 5-foot-8, 184-pound Joyner matched up against the great Russell Wilson and was ultimately rated the best slot corner of Week 2 by Pro Football Focus. He spent 35 snaps in the slot, third-most in the NFL, and allowed only three catches for 18 yards on six targets.

                Joyner didn't even bother with a splint.

                "I just strapped on my cleats and I played, man," he said. "I knew that was an important game for us."

                Joyner thought back to 2014, when the Rams moved up in the draft to select him 41st overall out of Florida State.

                "All that kind of stuff just ran through my mind," Joyner said. "This organization made a lot of sacrifices for me so that I could fight through something like this if I'm able to still go."

                Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Joyner's toughness was "why we drafted him." The pain, Joyner said, was "bad" throughout Sunday's game. But secondary coach Dennard Wilson talked him through it.

                ‘Every time he said, ‘We need you,’ it just gave me the strength," Joyner said. "It gave me the strength to fight through the pain."

                Joyner plans to play again against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. He'll be returning to his home state, 280 miles north of his hometown of Miami and 160 miles east of his college campus. Family will be there, but he doesn't anticipate spending much time with them.

                "This is a business trip," he said.

                Joyner has "no doubt" he will continue to play through his broken toe.

                "It’s getting better," he said. "We have the best training staff, I think, out of all 32 teams. [Head athletic trainer Reggie Scott] and...
                -09-21-2016, 09:52 AM
              • r8rh8rmike
                Lamarcus Joyner Jumps Into Nickel Job With Something To Prove
                by r8rh8rmike
                Lamarcus Joyner jumps into nickel job with something to prove

                Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer

                EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For as long as he can remember, football came easy to St. Louis Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. Until last season.

                The 2014 season just so happened to be not only Joyner's toughest year in football but also his rookie season in the NFL. That the two are one in the same is no coincidence.

                "It definitely was," Joyner said. "For a guy like myself who you are talking about little league, high school, college had success then had to come to the league and you see that everybody is just as good as you. It's not just 'I'm gonna go tie up my shoes on Sunday and compete.' You have to really prepare and [make] each day count. I didn't understand that coming into this game. It's a continuation of what I have to do to learn in this game."

                Little more than halfway through this preseason, Joyner must now hurry that process along. After losing cornerback E.J. Gaines for the season because of a foot injury, Joyner is no longer competing for the team's nickel corner job. It's his.

                "He's going to be our inside guy," coach Jeff Fisher said. "He's improving every day. He's light years ahead of where he was last year. It was all happening really fast and it's starting to slow down for him. When he knows exactly what to do, he does it very well. We're counting on him to be effective in the slot, which means as a third corner, you're probably going to play 50-60 percent of our snaps."

                That Joyner is stepping into that role is really no surprise considering the Rams traded up in the second round in the 2014 draft to select him. In an ideal world, he would have embraced the role last season but a combination of mental miscues and injury issues kept him from solidifying that spot.

                As a rookie, Joyner played 10 games and 263 snaps, finishing with 37 tackles, one sack, a pair of pass breakups and six penalties for 41 yards. He was the team's primary slot corner for eight of the first nine games before a groin injury kept him out a few weeks. By the time he returned, Gaines had taken over in the slot with Trumaine Johnson handling outside corner duties when the Rams used their nickel package.

                When Joyner went back to watch the film in the offseason, he couldn't believe what he saw.

                "It was a disgrace, personally for me," Joyner said. "If I don't owe anyone, I owe myself better than what I was putting on tape out there so I didn't want to look like that guy anymore. So I went and got my mental aspect of the game better."

                Joyner's brutal honesty with himself let him know that it wasn't about being faster, stronger or more athletic than everyone else. His film study led him to the conclusion everyone in the NFL is a good athlete with those physical...
                -08-26-2015, 11:47 AM
              • r8rh8rmike
                Rams Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner Says He's 'Light Years' Ahead Of Last Year
                by r8rh8rmike
                Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner says he's 'light years' ahead of last year

                Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer

                EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Lamarcus Joyner came to the St. Louis Rams with high expectations for himself in 2014.

                As a rookie projected to help at nickel cornerback, Joyner had every intention of stepping in and contributing right away. He'd come to St. Louis as a second-round pick from national champion Florida State and figured the adjustment would be tough but not too tough to overcome. He was wrong.

                "Definitely a humbling experience for me, both on the field, off the field, just a lot of things that come in this league," Joyner said. "Just adapting, learning the system. Coming from a successful year at the college level and you think you know everything and you just need to get adjusted."

                Like most rookies, Joyner didn't know what he didn't know. He found himself pressing too hard to make things happen and often got caught out of position. He picked up six penalties in 10 games, including a costly pass interference in a narrow week 3 loss to Dallas.

                After playing the nickel for eight of the first nine games, Joyner suffered a groin injury that kept him out for a few weeks. When he returned, E.J. Gaines had staked a claim to the nickel job and Joyner didn't play again until the final two weeks of the season and that only happened because Gaines suffered a concussion in Week 16.

                All told, Joyner finished with 37 tackles, a sack, two pass breakups and a healthy dose of disappointment. So he entered this offseason in search of ways to eliminate mistakes and stake his claim to a more permanent role.

                Apparently, Joyner's efforts have worked as he says coaches and teammates have taken notice of his improvement.

                "I definitely feel good but two witnesses are better than one, you know what I’m saying?" Joyner said. "So it doesn’t matter what I think. It’s about the organization.

                "From the words of the coaches, [it's] 'light years.' I feel good, I feel like I’m there mentally which is the most important part at this level. I’m already blessed with the God-given physical ability so I’m pretty caught up."

                During organized team activities (OTAs), Joyner says he feels like he's been doing more reacting than thinking, the sign of a player who has a better handle on what he's doing within the confines of the scheme. He also find himself firmly back in the mix to win the team's nickel corner job.

                "Wherever my coaches need me, I am to the point where I know a little more about the defense so nickel corner, safety, next man up is our philosophy," Joyner said.

                Joyner doesn't appear to have any direct competition for that nickel corner role but that could shift if the Rams decide to bump Gaines inside with Trumaine Johnson...
                -06-18-2015, 02:12 PM
              • MauiRam
                Joyner Could Give Rams Their Own “Honey Badger”
                by MauiRam
                By Anthony Stalter

                The moment the Rams selected Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner in the second round of May’s NFL draft, I couldn’t get Tyrann Mathieu out of my head.

                Before tearing both his ACL and LCL in a December victory over the Rams, Mathieu was one of the better surprises of the 2013 NFL draft. His versatility allowed Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to be creative with his game plans, moving the rookie around the field like a playing piece on a chess board.

                Mathieu made headlines in Week 1, causing a turnover by knocking the ball out of Jared Cook’s hands right before the tight end could reach pay dirt. In Week 2 against the Lions, he lined up outside the hash on a fourth-and-four with 1:22 remaining and was immediately pushed back by receiver Nate Burleson at the snap. But he recovered quickly, bringing Burleson down well before the first-down marker to seal the win for Arizona. One week later, he picked off Drew Brees in the end zone for his first career interception.

                Seeing time at both nickelback and free safety, the end result saw Mathieu rack up 68 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack. Even though he was a first-year player, opposing quarterbacks had to know where he was on every play. He established himself as a sideline-to-sideline defender, capable of changing directions on dime and flying to the football. Outside of Packers running back Eddie Lacy, you would have been hard-pressed to find a better rookie from the middle rounds of the ’13 draft.

                And thus the reason I couldn’t get Mathieu out of my head following the Rams’ selection of Joyner back in May.

                At 5-foot-8 and 184 pounds, Joyner has a similar build as Mathieu (5-8, 186 pounds). He’s also versatile, spending time in the slot and at free safety in Jeremy Pruitt’s defense a year ago.

                He’s a perfect fit for a Rams team that needed help at safety, as well as more depth at corner. He’s undersized, but he has experience lining up in the slot, as a safety and outside the numbers as a corner.

                What I liked most about watching Joyner play at FSU were his instincts, awareness and his knack for always being around the ball. He does the little things, such as looking for the strip when tackling, avoiding blockers on his way to the ball carrier and selling blitzes before dropping into coverage. He has the ability to make an impact on Day 1, especially in the hands of a creative defensive coordinator like Gregg Williams.

                Just like Bowles used Mathieu, Williams can line up Joyner all over the field in efforts to utilize his speed, aggressiveness and athleticism. Rodney McLeod remains the incumbent at the free, but it’s going to be interesting watching the Rams cross-train Joyner at nickel back and safety in training camp this year. It’s no different than how the Cardinals approached Mathieu’s development a year ago.

                -07-22-2014, 05:47 PM