Rams roster review: James Laurinaitis, linebacker


All the talk in Earth City, MO this year is about the St. Louis Rams defense and how they look to rise through the NFL shuffle and plant themselves firmly at the top of the food chain. Long before the Rams had such high hopes, there was a middle linebacker by the name of James Laurinaitis holding down the second level of a less than spectacular defense. Now, Laurinaitis captains his team with tremendous leadership and unquestionable authority as he looks to lead the 2015 St. Louis defense into the history books.

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Laurinaitis was drafted by the Rams in 2009. St. Louis selected him with the 35th pick in the second round, a high investment for a linebacker. Laurinaitis had the college resume to back it up though. He posted 365 tackles over his four-year career at Ohio State, including 13 sacks. He earned All-American honors every year except his freshman season and won the Dick Butkus Award in 2007.  His Buckeye’s won the Big Ten conference championship every year he played and he earned All-Big Ten honors from 2006-2008.

Nov 16, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (55) runs on to the field before a game against the Denver Broncos at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated Denver 22-7. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Laurinaitis would come in to a starting position with the Rams in 2009 and never missed a beat. he posted 120 combined tackles that year, including 107 solo tackles. He added two sacks, one forced fumble and two interceptions. All this earned him yet another award, Rams 2009 Rookie of the Year. Laurinaitis has posted at least 109 combined tackles every year of his career. He has posted at least 100 solo tackles in three years of his career. Maybe even more impressive than his tackle totals, the fact that he has played in all 16 games of the season every year since entering the league.

Laurinaitis is heading into his seventh season, all with the Rams. He is the leader of a defense that now boasts one of the most lethal pass rushes around and a dominant front four. He is paired with rising star Alec Agletree and crafty veteran Jo-Lonn Dunbar to round out what has the makings of a top trio of linebackers. Recently acquired free agent Akeem Ayers will also contribute not only on the field, but also in the locker room with his invaluable Super Bowl experience brought over from New England. If this crew can stay healthy, the Rams may have themselves a top ten defensive unit. However, it will take a tremendous effort to set themselves apart from the competition in the NFC West. A division now known for it’s hard hitting defensive units all around.