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Practice Recap: Defensive Dominance

Posted Aug 26, 2014

Myles Simmons recaps the Rams final practice before heading to Miami for the team's final preseason game of 2014 on Thursday.

As head coach Jeff Fisher promised on Monday, the Rams were back outside today on a hot day in Earth City for a midday practice. Here’s what you need to know from Tuesday’s session.

DEFENSIVE LINE DEPTH

It’s been well documented how much talent the Rams defensive line has coming into the 2014 season. Obviously, St. Louis is known as #SackCity for a reason.

Fisher addressed the position after practice on Tuesday, saying that the line does have good depth.

“We’re healthy, which is good after our scares from last week,” Fisher said. “I think we’ve got depth, we’ve got youth, and we’ve certainly got flexibly.”

Part of that depth comes in from the young defensive linemen who have done well in the preseason. And with roster reductions coming within the week, it’s those players toward the end of the roster who will try to make one more lasting impression against the Dolphins on Thursday.

Rookies Ethan Westbrooks and Michael Sam are two such players. In the past, the Rams have carried nine defensive lineman, and with eight spots firmly entrenched, it appears that the two could be competing for one spot.

However, it may not be much of a competition at all, because there is no guarantee for how this year’s roster will be constructed. Fisher said on Tuesday that it’s possible the team could keep any number of defensive linemen.

Westbrooks, an undrafted free agent out of West Texas A&M, currently leads St. Louis in preseason tackles, according to stats based on the coaches’ film review. He’s put up 14 tackles, a sack, three QB pressures, and one quarterback hit.

“He’s been very productive since the time camp started,” Fisher said. “He came in in great shape. He’s making plays. He’s playing all four positions.”

On the other hand, Sam has been productive in his own right. The seventh-round pick has tallied three tackles, two sacks, two QB pressures, and one quarterback hit, according to the same metrics.

“I think they’re both doing well right now,” Fisher said of Westbrooks and Sam. “No different than any other positional races on this football team. They’re both doing well.”

At this point, the Rams are in terrific position to have a strong defensive line, whether they keep one or both of Sam and Westbrooks. As Robert Quinn said on Tuesday, there is a lot of hype out there about the defense’s potential, but players have to ignore that and take things one day at a time.

“Our d-line is so full of depth, it’s going to be tough for everybody,” Quinn said. “All we can ask for is for players to go out there and produce, and help this team win.”

LEFTOVERS

…Fisher said that quarterback Shaun Hill had another good day for his second practice as the Rams starting quarterback.

“We had a walk through earlier and he did fine,” Fisher said. “Got a few reps today. I’m not concerned about him.”

…Fisher also said that the coaching staff is still discussing how much the starters will play in Miami on Thursday.
“We’re working through it,” Fisher said. “I feel like we just finished up the Cleveland game. So we’re going to be selective and some may play more than others. But really that’s all I can say.”

…Speaking of depth at the defensive line, defensive end William Hayes said after practice that he loves working with Quinn.

“Rob Quinn is the man,” Hayes said. “He’s a technician, you can tell him to do something and he’s going to do it -- and the first time he’s going to do it right. That’s the one thing out of working with Rob, he’s a pro.”

…The Rams will travel to Miami tomorrow in preparation for their 6 p.m. CT game against the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on Thursday.

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