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Dunbar, Williams Prepare for Familiar Opponent

Posted Aug 7, 2014

Former New Orleans Saints linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams are excited to take on their former team in Week One of the preseason.

The NFL preseason is all about making impressions. And with linebacker rotations in flux with James Lauranitis a little dinged up, there are opportunities to put up some good moments in Friday’s first game.

Enter Jo-Lonn Dunbar. The former Saint is one of two key defensive pieces with ties to New Orleans. The other, of course, is defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Dunbar, who is listed on the depth chart as the first right linebacker, has been taking snaps at middle linebacker in preparation for the game. He told our Casey Phillips this week that playing in the center of the defense is always a challenge.

“You have to relay the calls from the coach to the defense and make sure the defense is lined up,” Dunbar said. “It’s a lot of responsibility, but I’m excited for the challenge. And hopefully I can do some good things come Friday.”

An undrafted free agent out of Boston College, Dunbar started his career with New Orleans, where he played from 2008-2011. The Rams signed him as a free agent in 2012 and he produced 115 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles that season. St. Louis re-signed him last season, and he started 10 games.

Now, the linebacker is excited to work with a group that has the potential to be one of the best front sevens in the NFL.

“Those guys are great, they’re getting better each and every day,” Dunbar said of his fellow backers. “It’s a pleasure to play with Alec [Ogletree] and James, and Ray Ray [Armstrong’s] coming along and even [Daren] Bates. A bunch of our young guys getting better each and every day so I’m excited to see those guys play.”

Dunbar’s connection to the Saints has helped him play a role in acclimating players to their new defensive coordinator’s coaching style.

“I think it’s good to have him going along behind the scenes, in the locker room and saying I’m not as crazy as everybody thinks I am,” Williams said during OTAs in June, adding that Dunbar has the ability to answer questions coaches had not come up with yet.

It’s had been a while since Dunbar and Williams were on the same team, but the connection between the two remained.

“Gregg and I have become really good friends since then,” Dunbar said. “Not much has changed. He’s still a very vocal, and exciting and aggressive coach in terms of his coaching style. But I think he’s dialed back a little bit in his personality, but his coaching style is still the same.”

It is only the first preseason game, but it is still a little special for both to play their former organization.

“It’s always a little added motivation,” Dunbar said. “I’ve got a bunch of buddies who still play for them. But come Friday, I’m not going to be too friendly.”

“I know the personnel. I have a tremendous respect for them,” Williams said. “They’ve got a lot of new faces. We’ve got a lot of new faces. It’ll be fun. It’ll be fun to see a lot of those guys.”

Head coach Jeff Fisher said this week that there will be minimal game planning for Friday’s matchup, but Dunbar said he thinks Williams will put in something for his old friends.

“I’m pretty sure he’s going to have some things dialed up for Sean Payton and those guys,” Dunbar said.

Either way, it will be welcome to see the Rams finally take the field for the first time in 2014.