LA Rams OLB Ogbonnia Okonronkwo return could be spark team needs

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

LA Rams OLB Ogbonnia Okonronkwo return could be spark team needs

The LA Rams needed some good news this week. After dropping first place in the NFC West, an outbreak of the oopsies-turnovers that has plagued the offense since the bye week, and the loss of Andrew Whitworth, Taylor Rapp, Kai Forbath and Micah Kiser, the Rams suddenly went from the healthiest they’ve been all season, to the most injured. While that didn’t show up in the wins and losses for two games, the Rams certainly fell short in the loss to the 49ers.

Perhaps getting a player back to health is the answer. Does it matter if it’s a defensive player? Well, whatever the impact elsewhere, it’s a huge boost to get outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo back to the active 53-man roster. Why?

Let’s dig into that for a moment.

Edge of our seats

Setting the edge in defensive coordinator’s defense is a critical piece to the defense. That’s because the defense is designed to funnel plays to the middle, where all 11 defenders can make plays. As soon as a running back or receiver break containment, distance becomes their ally.  So Staley insists that his edge rushers set that edge like a brick wall. And Obo is certainly a player who does a good job of setting the edge.

But there’s more to the equation. Obo hasn’t seen action since an elbow injury ended his afternoon against Washington. Prior to that, he had been building his performance each week, leading to his first sack of the season against the New York Giants. Now, he must find a way to resume that ever-improving performance.

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Who’s that guy?

With the advanced and sophisticated use of statistical and video enhanced analysis, the return of Obo is well-timed.  He has been absent from this defense for nearly two months, which makes it very difficult to anticipate how the Rams will use him in his return. If you recall, Obo was the first non-Floyd outside linebacker to make noise in the new defensive scheme.

Now he has a chance to return to a more polished defense, and one that has become one of the finest in the NFL. His return to the lineup could prove to be a nice boost, as he is fresh and improving. He split his time between the defense and special teams, and that is likely the role the Rams will apply when he starts to play again.

Even though the defense continues to improve each week, an impassioned return by Obo can be the spark that ignites the entire team. He feel to injury while the Rams were 4-1. Now, six games later, the Rams are 7-4. That means that the team has been just 3-3 in the past six games during his absence.  It would be great fun if the team could finish this season with a run of 4-1.

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And just as much fun if Obo was part of that success. The Rams have two open roster spots after releasing OLB Jachai Polite on Thursday, December 3. So the Rams can return Obo to the 53-man roster and still have an open slot remaining.