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  • Phillips’ gives initial impression of rookie DT Greg Gaines ..

    Clarence Dennis

    “He’s a smart player and we always say smart players get better.” Phillips’ gives initial impression of rookie DT Greg Gaines

    The Rams selected five defensive players in the 2019 NFL Draft, who now have a month under their belt as professional football players in Southern California. On Tuesday, the group’s 71-year-old defensive guru outlined a two-step process that’s well underway for the newcomers.

    “[T]hey have to get acclimated to pro football number one, but number two, our defense,” coordinator Wade Phillips said.

    The defensive class is headlined by a pair of former University of Washington Huskies in safety Taylor Rapp and defensive tackle Greg Gaines, each of whom could contribute in year one. For Gaines, step No. 2 in Phillips’ process played a role in helping him get to know his new defensive coordinator — even before Phillips addressed his rookies for the first time back in May.

    “My first impression of Wade Phillips came from his playbook, I think seeing that and just how simplistic it is,” Gaines said in his introduction to the Los Angeles media. “He definitely seems like a good guy.”

    Gaines wrapped up his UW career with 149 total tackles — 21 of which came behind the line of scrimmage — 9.5 sacks, and an interception in 51 games, and earned All Pac-12 First Team honors in his senior season. He’s since welcomed a newborn son and officially had his name tossed around in conversations surrounding the vacancy left in the middle of the defensive line with the departure of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

    “It’s definitely cool that they think so highly of me — it’s a good feeling. I think I can bring it, I think I can be a starting nose type guy,” Gaines said, when asked about the prospect of a starting job. “I am really strong in the run game and I think that’s what they want me to do here, is just let [DT] Aaron Donald take the pass rush reps and I’ll take the double teams on first and second down.”

    With nothing set in stone and much to learn ahead of Week 1 in Carolina, Gaines has been getting the majority of his reps with the second group in OTAs — second-year defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day with the top unit. The pair of candidates for the nose spot could be set for battle, depending on what transpires in next month’s training camp, especially considering Joseph-Day didn’t step on the field in his rookie season.

    “I think [Gaines] obviously works hard at what he does, I think he’s a grinder, we said that, and I think he’ll be stronger in pads, where you can see his power and stuff,” Phillips said. “No pads and no contact, it’s hard to utilize that. I think once he gets the pads on, it’ll help him.”

    “He’s done a good job so far,” Phillips continued. “He’s a smart player and we always say smart players get better. So he’s one of those guys.”

    At the least we should have a stonger rotation amongst our DTs. As Wade says, we'll know more after the pads go on. Stopping the run was clearly something the Rams needed to improve on. Both SJD and Gaines are young and fresh - regardless of which player starts - our run defense looks to be improved. We were blown off the LOS far too many times last year. Our offense was often our best defense. If our D can stuff the run on 1st & 2nd downs, we should win a lot of games.

    Suh was a great player, but it is twilight time for him. An infusion of youthful talent on the D-Line shouldl really help improve the D overall. It seems Snead & Mcvay have been very successful in finding talented players in the round 3 to round 7 range. John Johnson, Micah Kiser, Cooper Kupp (the former 3 all drafted in Rd. 3) and others such as Sebastion JD (round 6), who is vying to start this year.

    I am hoping this is the year Kiser steps in and shines. He was one hell of a player in college. It is a huge stretch at this stage of his career to make comparisons, but there is one player of yesteryear that comes to mind. That player was drafted in 1981, stood six feet tall &amp & weighed 230lbs. His position was middle linebacker. He didn't run a blazing 40, as the NFL combine didn't start until 1982. He wasn't known for blazing speed - rather he was best known for truly "bringing it violently" on every single play literally.

    Kiser is six feet tall and weighs 244 lbs. His forty time(4.66) is decent but he wasn't drafted for his stats, rather he was a very productive football player in college, a violent player. I have my fingers crossed and hope he plays for the Rams for years to come .. I'm rooting for Gaines/SJD to keep blockers off our ILBs letting them clean some clocks. At the very least, Kiser will be a standout special teams player.

    GO RAMS!!

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  • Nick
    Rams' Joyner eager to make his mark
    by Nick
    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...
    -05-19-2014, 05:33 PM
  • MauiRam
    Evan Ardoin on the National Scouting Service and following E.J. Gaines
    by MauiRam
    Scout's Tale: E.J. Gaines

    There are numerous ways NFL teams acquire players, and the Rams’ scouting staff is always hard at work trying to find the next guy who can help them win. In Scout’s Tales, we’ll visit with members of Les Snead’s personnel department and they’ll share stories of how the process brought certain current Rams to St. Louis.

    The National scout role is part of a co-op system that certain teams in the league are involved in. When I filled that role, there were 20 teams. There are 20 teams that participate, and of those 20, 11 will commit a scout to working for National. When I was in that role, I was taken out of the Rams-specific operation and I went to Indianapolis to train to learn the National system.

    In that role, I’m responsible for going out in the spring and advance scouting the next year’s senior talent. This year, I went to schools, looked at their entire roster and gave the rising seniors the Wonderlic test. I weighed and measured them so we have verified measurables for all of the teams. It gives a much clearer picture for the teams to create a road map for their own scouting operation. Everyone who subscribes to National has access to that information - it’s public.

    There’s a generic system so it’s not tailored to a specific team. For instance, the Jets would grade defenders differently than the Rams because we run a 4-3 and they’re a 3-4 in New York. You talk about players in a very generic sense and what their overall value is. A player who may be a third-round pick for Seattle may not be that high for the Rams, just depending on the scheme fit.

    It’s an interesting way to cut your teeth as a scout because it’s really the nuts and bolts of player evaluation. You go into a school without any information. All you have is a roster and a couple of coaches recommending their most talented seniors. You have to determine who the prospects are and at what level they’re prospects.

    Being on the other side of it now as an area scout, you take that data and you plan your fall season based on what you see in that data. “I didn’t realize Michigan had seven prospects. I may need to make another trip there...” That’s the kind of thing you see when you read the National reports. It gives you more detail to make the best decisions for your own club.

    It’s a difficult role. It’s two seasons of scouting as opposed to one-and-a-half like an area guy because you’re out by yourself in the fall. The NFS scout pairs with a scout from the other scouting service, BLESTO, to put on ‘junior pro days’ where we measure the next year’s seniors. If the coaches will allow us to measure guys, we’ll get verified 40 times on them as well. We’ll spend all day watching tape and then we’ll grade them.

    Then there’s an opportunity for you to speak on all your players at a big presentation in front of all the other teams involved in your scouting...
    -04-11-2015, 12:38 PM
  • 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
  • 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
  • Rambos
    Thomas: Gaines tries to make up for lost time with Rams
    by Rambos
    IRVINE, CALIF. • They can forget about you quickly in the NFL. Take E.J. Gaines, for instance.

    A sixth-round pick in 2014 out of the University of Missouri, Gaines was a pleasant surprise for the Rams as a rookie.

    He started 15 games, recorded 105 tackles and posted a team-high 14 pass breakups. And he had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He played so well that he made the Pro Football Writers’ All-Rookie team, and was ahead of Trumaine Johnson on the depth chart a year ago at this time in what figured to be a tight battle at cornerback.

    But the competition was over before it really started. Gaines suffered a season-ending foot injury about a week into camp. Johnson regained the starting job, tied for the NFC lead with seven interceptions and will make $13.9 million this season as the Rams’ franchise player.

    Who knows what would’ve happened had Gaines stayed healthy. Maybe he would’ve retained the starting job, and Johnson wouldn’t be making all that money.

    “Man, that’s God’s work, ain’t it?” Gaines asked, laughing. “I’m excited for him. I’m glad that he proved himself last year and had a great season. I’m excited ’cause I think he’s gonna do the same thing. I’ve talked to him and his head’s on the same level as last year.”

    Gaines and his teammates have done their part to make sure of that, teasing Johnson about his big contract.

    “You know, everybody gives him a little (grief),” Gaines chuckled. “He’s the ‘Money Man’ in the corner room now. So that’s what we call him.”

    As for Gaines, he’s determined to make sure nobody forgets about him this season. It’s almost a year ago to the day that Gaines suffered a fractured foot during practice at the team’s Earth City facility in the St. Louis area.

    “August 3, 2015,” Gaines said. “I’ll never forget the day, so I’m just trying to get past that. It was one-on-ones, and I just cut on it wrong coming out of a break. It was a freak accident.”

    He had surgery a week later, with two screws inserted in the mid-foot area; one of which still is in there. Mid-foot injuries can be tricky and take a while to heal.

    “I tried to just focus on the positive,” Gaines said. “I knew if I worked hard and got back mentally and physically I’d be fine. And the coaches, they pushed me over the offseason. So I’ve just got to thank them for that — having the confidence in me.”

    During practices in June, Gaines still was very much in rehab mode. He’d get in a practice rep here and there, but that was about it.

    A Kansas City native who was first-team in both the Big 12 and Southeastern conferences while at Mizzou, Gaines wasn’t given full medical clearance until a few days before the now-Los Angeles Rams reported for training camp Friday.

    He excelled in his conditioning tests and got off to a good start in training camp over the weekend at the University
    -08-02-2016, 01:04 PM