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Lamarcus Joyner Jumps Into Nickel Job With Something To Prove

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  • Lamarcus Joyner Jumps Into Nickel Job With Something To Prove

    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 skills. What separates the productive players from the perennial bench warmers is the game's mental parts.

    "It's the NFL," Joyner said. "It's not about talent anymore. You have to tie in talent with the mental aspect of the game. Everyone is just as good as you, if not better. So I have to do things that will keep me competitive in this game against the great receivers you have to go against every Sunday. I studied the playbook and studied my assignment all offseason and that kind of helped me out a lot."

    To be sure, Joyner still has plenty of proving to do entering his second season. Listed at 5-foot-8, 184 pounds, Joyner will regularly find himself overmatched from a size perspective. That makes being sharp mentally even more important.

    So far in this preseason, it's been a mixed bag for Joyner. He gave up an easy touchdown pass in the opener against the Oakland Raiders but rebounded well with five tackles and a pass breakup against Tennessee.

    "I think it's definitely in all honesty, 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical," Joyner said. "I didn't understand that coming in. I thought I could just come out here, lace my shoestrings up on Sunday and compete. Whereas that's clearly not the case. I got embarrassed as a rookie out there on the field last year. I just tightened up on my mental I.Q. and I've been doing pretty well so far."

  • #2
    Re: Lamarcus Joyner Jumps Into Nickel Job With Something To Prove

    I'm looking forward to seeing how Joyner plays against the Colts. He was one of the few bright spots against Tennessee, and I'd really like to see him put in another strong performance leading into the regular season.


    • #3
      Re: Lamarcus Joyner Jumps Into Nickel Job With Something To Prove

      A young player saying all the right things. Sounds like his head is in the right place, on the field, so I expect to this better performance this year.
      A defeated look of consternation, dissappointment, or even pain. The name derives from the look one often gets when challenged by a large BM.


      • #4
        Re: Lamarcus Joyner Jumps Into Nickel Job With Something To Prove

        He's going to be a pivotal player against teams like Seattle and AZ where 3 wides is fairly common. I like to think our whole secondary is coming together at the right moment for us. We'll miss Gaines, but we're pretty deep at the CB spot.

        Go Rams!


        • #5
          Re: Lamarcus Joyner Jumps Into Nickel Job With Something To Prove

          Says the right words but putting it into practice is yet to be proven....recalled a certain QB in Cleveland whose words didn't match deeds in 2014

          He as well as any one in the secondary have the toughest job on defense. Having to see what the opposing offense is up--react quick enough--and execute. I wonder if there is stats somewhere as to what teams got gashed the most for big plays and where the Rams sit in that ranking


          Related Topics


          • 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
            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 49ers, 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
            E.J. Gaines eager to play in exhibition after year away from game action
            by r8rh8rmike
            Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines eager to play in exhibition after year away from game action

            By Gary Klein
            August 17, 2016

            Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines could be on track to play in Saturday night’s exhibition against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Coliseum.

            Gaines sat out last week against the Dallas Cowboys because of a hamstring strain. He took some first-team reps Tuesday and is expected to take more Wednesday.

            After missing all of last season because of a foot injury, he is eager to get back onto the field during a game.

            “It will definitely be a big step for me in my rehab process, getting out there and getting live reps and hitting people,” he said of Saturday’s exhibition. “It’s been a full year.”

            Gaines started 15 games in 2014 but was injured during training camp last year and was sidelined after surgery. He took part in off-season workouts in Oxnard but was not cleared for full football activity until training camp.

            “It felt like more than a year,” he said of the rehabilitation process. “It felt like five years.”

            Gaines is competing with Lamarcus Joyner and Coty Sensabaugh to start oppositeTrumaine Johnson and fill the void left by the departure of Janoris Jenkins.

            Joyner and Sensabaugh gave up touchdown passes against the Cowboys....
            -08-18-2016, 06:10 PM
          • r8rh8rmike
            Gaines Expecting To Play "A Lot" In Opener
            by r8rh8rmike
            Gaines expecting to play "a lot" in opener

            September, 5, 2014
            By Nick Wagoner |

            EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams rookie cornerback E.J. Gaines didn't exactly come right out and say it, but he did offer plenty of breadcrumbs that his first NFL game Sunday against Minnesota will double as his first NFL start.

            "Yeah, if not I think I’ll get a lot of playing time so I’m excited," Gaines said. "It’s just a lot of preparation that goes into it, a lot more than college. So I’m hanging out with [cornerback] Janoris [Jenkins] and [safety] T.J. McDonald and stuff like that trying to get the hang of it."

            In anticipation of the possible, if not probable, start against the Vikings, Gaines said he's been regularly picking the brains of his fellow defensive backs and, well, just about anyone willing to answer his questions. He even mentioned that he's been speaking to defensive end Chris Long about handling the situation.

            "Just [talking] about being a rookie and getting my first start, really," Gaines said. "He’s definitely had my back since I’ve been here."

            Of course, it would come as no surprise if Gaines did start against Minnesota even though he'd be doing so as a sixth-round rookie with only two preseason games under his belt. The Rams are without starting cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who has missed the past couple of weeks with a sprained MCL and isn't expected back until after the bye if the initial four-to-six-week diagnosis proves correct.

            Without Johnson, the Rams will start Jenkins at his usual right cornerback spot. Rookie Lamarcus Joyner has long been penciled in as the team's primary nickel corner, and it's unlikely the Rams would move him from that job. That leaves a decision between Brandon McGee and Gaines. On the unofficial depth chart, Gaines is listed as the No. 2 left corner behind Johnson.

            Putting all the pieces together, it sure seems to point in the direction of Gaines. Even if he only gets "a lot of playing time," there's no doubt that Gaines has come a long way since the team drafted him in May.

            At the time, many believed the Rams found a late-round steal in the first-team All SEC pick, and Gaines quickly set about proving those beliefs true. He was the defense's best performer in the preseason opener against New Orleans, showing a willingness to be physical and tackle, despite his 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame. He also did solid work in coverage.

            A hamstring injury kept Gaines out of the next two preseason games but even before a solid final outing in Miami, Gaines had already moved beyond simply earning a roster spot.

            Throughout camp and the preseason, Gaines has never had the appearance of a player overwhelmed by the moment.

            "The thing about him is if you guys focus...
            -09-05-2014, 02:52 PM