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: 17.09.2018
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: 12, 2018 2:56 am     : Grahams strength is making tough cat

With 17 career starts in three seasons Authentic Geron Christian Jersey , Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Ramik Wilson might not look like a grizzled veteran.

However, at a position where the second and third-most experienced players have combined for six career starts and the other three are rookies, the 25-year-old Wilson certainly qualifies.

We have a lot of youth at that position. We have a lot of guys, other than Mark Barron, that havent been starters before. To be able to get (Ramik) in free agency was great, linebackers coach Joe Barry said.

The Rams needed to add experience after trading starting linebacker Alec Ogletree to the New York Giants. Cory Littleton had started five games in two seasons while backing up Barron, but would get the first chance to replace Ogletree at middle linebacker. Bryce Hagers only start came in Week 17 last season when the Rams rested players ahead of their home playoff game.

Wilson fit the bill after starting 11 games and recording 61 tackles for Kansas City in 2016, but saw his playing time reduced last season after the Chiefs traded for former second-round draft pick Reggie Ragland. When the Chiefs did not tender a contract to Wilson, he agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Rams in March weeks after they agreed to trade Ogletree.

The opportunity to play for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was something Wilson could not pass up, especially with the chance to move back to his more natural position playing on the weak side.

It just made perfect sense, Wilson said. I can run to the ball and I can flow. I can make plays. I can do what Im supposed to do.

Barry liked Wilson coming out of college at Georgia, and his subsequent experience as both a starter and backup for the Chiefs made Wilson even more appealing.

As an NFL player, youve got to prepare subtly different if youre the guy as the starter compared to if youre the backup. Hes been in both roles, so I think that means a lot, Barry said.

Wilsons ability to adjust was evident during OTAs. With Barron sitting out because of injuries, Wilson was paired with Littleton as part of the first-team defense. The two quickly meshed, and the partnership seems to have only grown as Wilson and Littleton continued to work together early in training camp, with Barron being worked back in cautiously.

Barry could not take credit for the chemistry Wilson and Littleton have displayed.

When two guys go out and they take over 200 snaps together in OTAs, they are going to build a rapport together. It just happens naturally, Barry said.

Despite the inexperience of the group, Wilson likes how they are progressing. How the linebackers perform might determine whether the play of the Rams defense matches the hysteria created by signing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and trading for cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peter in the offseason Patrick Roy Jersey , and Wilson has not seen anything to indicate the inside linebackers are not ready for the challenge.

They are right along and they are ready to go, the whole room, Wilson said. Weve got a lot of expectations, but we know weve got the talent. Were just putting in the work each day now and taking it one day at a time. Thats all we are going to do, and the results will show at the end of the day.

NOTES: Rams head coach Sean McVay said Saturday there was no update regarding All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donalds holdout, but they have been in contact via telephone. I spoke with him in the last day or so, and were just checking in, seeing how hes doing, McVay said.



Marcedes Lewis wasnt sure if the Green Bay Packers were the right fit for him. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and tight end Jimmy Graham made him feel at home at Lambeau Field.

Lewis visited Green Bay last week thinking he wanted to explore his options during his first stint as a free agent following 12 years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He received calls from other teams, but he said that the Packers were the most persistent so he made Lambeau his first stop.

He never made another visit.

This was the only place I took a trip I took my trip, and Aaron was here in the locker room. I started talking to him, Lewis said Thursday. I started talking to Jimmy and I kind of made my decision that day.

When I came down here, I didnt expect to sign anything, Lewis added. I was just coming down here to get a feel. Once I saw Aaron and Jimmy, it was a no-brainer after that.

Lewis, 34, was released by the Jaguars in March after the team had picked up his one-year, $3.5 million option in February. His signing filled a glaring need a blocking tight end and gives the Packers another veteran at the position with Graham, a five-time Pro Bowler, and Lance Kendricks.

I dont think weve had this much experience at the tight end position in my time here, said Packers coach Mike McCarthy Marquis Haynes Color Rush Jersey , who called Lewis a prime-time player.

An on-the-line tight end is something we havent had a lot of, as far as the way weve played over the years, McCarthy added. He can block any defensive end on the league, and thats definitely a huge asset.

Lewis, who said he felt he got a raw deal from the Jaguars, started 157 games for Jacksonville. He has 375 career receptions, including 24 for 318 yards and five touchdowns last year.

Still, Lewis hasnt caught more than 25 passes in a season since 2012, when he had 52 receptions. His best season came in 2010, when he earned his lone Pro Bowl selection by catching a career-high 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The 6-foot-6, 269-pound Lewis said he takes the blocking tight end moniker as a compliment, but added that I pride myself on being a really good all-around tight end, whatever it is that Im called upon to do.

Its the type of attitude that Rodgers loves to hear. Lewis ability to help slow down pass-rushers should help an offensive line that has questions on the right side.

Obviously, Im a really good blocker, but dont get it mistaken. I didnt come here to be a tackle. Be on the other side of Jimmy doing some good things, he said. Its going to be trouble out there.

Grahams strength is making tough catches. Kendricks provides experienced depth.

Jimmys not known as a blocking tight end, but hes willing. He will get in the way. He will punch you in the mouth, Lewis said. So its going to be interesting. We get in that personnel with three tight ends on the field and (defenses) have to leave base on the field, its not going to be good.


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