Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has shut down NFL training facilities and moved meetings and film sessions online, the Los Angeles Rams remain hard at work preparing for the upcoming 2020 NFL season.
The Rams have more work to do than the rest of the league as Sean McVay revamped his coaching staff while the roster saw several key player departures that Les Snead was able to fill via free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft. With so many pieces to integrate without the luxury of in-person coaching and training, Los Angeles faces a steeper hill to climb.
Brandon Staley, the team’s new defensive coordinator, has already drawn rave reviews from the organization for his energy and football knowledge and will get a chance to coach some of the league’s best defenders in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. While Donald and Ramsey have the front and back of the defense covered, the middle of the field remains a question mark and Staley admitted that inside linebacker is a position that will be up for grabs, via Cameron DaSilva of USA Today:
“I think it’s competitive. You’ve got to let things play out. Inside linebacker, in particular, there aren’t very many guys that have played a lot of football there, so that’s going to be an open competition,” Staley said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “You’ve gotten glimpses of those guys. Troy Reeder, T-Howard and Kenny Young, you’ve gotten glimpses of them as pro players. I know we have high regard for Micah Kiser within our building. He had that unfortunate injury in the preseason. We’ve just got to let the position sort itself out when things go live.”
Inside linebacker was going to be an area of need for the Rams after Cory Littleton signed with the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency, but the team opted to let its incumbents compete for the starting spot instead of drafting a replacement. Kiser appeared ready to take a leap during the 2019 NFL season before a preseason pectoral injury robbed him of his opportunity.
Although Kiser is healthy, Staley appears comfortable with letting the situation sort itself out in the offseason and training camp as Troy Reeder and Travin Howard showed flashes in limited time last year. Kenny Young, who Los Angeles acquired from the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Marcus Peters, also will get a chance to earn a role and hopefully shore up the position.
Despite the uncertainty at inside linebacker, the defense appears poised for another solid year, especially if Staley is able to deliver on all the high praise he has received so far.