2. A new-look defense
The Los Angeles Rams defense will look a bit different than it did featuring now-Buccaneer DT Ndamukong Suh, safety LaMarcus Joyner, and linebacker Mark Barron to close 2018.
Going forward, coordinator Wade Phillips’ defense will roll out big-name veterans in safety Eric Weddle and linebacker Clay Matthews. It could also welcome up-and-coming young players to a starting roles, like linebacker Micah Kiser and sophomore defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, who have each received reps with the top defensive unit depending on the package.
This week’s minicamp should provide some clarity as to which personnel will be called upon given the situation. In OTAs’ 11-on-11 drilling so far, it’s been mostly Joseph-Day lining up at the nose spot in Phillips’ base 3-4 defense — despite general manager Les Snead and McVay’s comments about sticking rookie defensive tackle Greg Gaines at nose following the draft.
In the middle of the defense, all indications point Kiser slotting into Barron’s vacated space, while Matthews has been working off the edge. As for Weddle, the veteran has been frequently working in and out of the dime linebacker spot — an offseason addition that safety John Johnson’s encouraged about moving forward.
“He puts everyone at ease and it’s funny because I used to say that’s what I try to do, so it’s kind of like two guys are back there working together to just make everybody comfortable, everyone play faster, and work together even better,” Johnson said last week. “It’s great having him with us, I’m glad. It’s a big difference from last year — no knock on last year’s crew — but we definitely took a step forward.”