In the Rams’ first game without McDonald, the Rams’ secondary didn’t miss a beat. Both Stewart and Giordano forced turnovers in the first half against Jacksonville, with the Rams converting both opportunities into touchdowns. The two plays helped lead to the winning margin in a 34-20 victory. For Giordano, who is in his ninth NFL season, the key to making an immediate impact has been maintaining the same level of preparation each week, regardless of what his role may be.
“The preparation’s the same,” Giordano said. “You always have to be ready. That’s part of being a backup, you’ve always got to be ready. It’s the same work.”
Both safeties have taken the increase in playing time in stride. Giordano and Stewart have served previously as starters, so the learning curve has been minimal for each. The two veterans have a combined 13 years of NFL experience, which includes 43 starts.
That level of experience can pay dividends in providing leadership to one of the youngest secondaries in the league, with only one other player—cornerback
“They’re working every day to get better and that’s all we have to do,” Walton said. “We have to keep growing each day, learning our opponents and making sure we’re sound in everything we do and we’re doing it by committee – everybody has to do that. The back end is continuing to work and grow on making sure we’re communicating, making our checks and try to do all those things to make sure we’re sound in our assignments.”
While experience has served each safety well, Giordano has had a bit of an adjustment period since joining St. Louis this year after starting 13 of 16 games for Oakland in 2012. Learning the intricacies of Walton’s defensive schemes, along with accounting for a truncated preseason due to a calf injury, has forced Giordano to be a quick study this fall.
“Every defense has its little intangibles and what they do differently, so I’m just trying to get used to that,” Giordano said. “I missed preseason and I’m still in the process of taking the rust off and getting going.”
As Jacksonville can attest, both Stewart and Giordano have gotten going just fine.