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Young defenders try to make their mark with the Rams/PD

Discussion in 'RAMS - NFL TALK' started by RamBill, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. RamBill

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    Jul 31, 2010
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    Young defenders try to make their mark with the Rams
    • By Joe Lyons


    Cody Davis finished as one of the Rams’ top tacklers in the team’s loss to New Orleans Saints to open the preseason, coming up with four tackles and an assist.

    But Davis, a second-year safety from Texas Tech, was far from satisfied.

    “In that first game, I missed some tackles and made way too many mental mistakes,’’ the 25-year-old said following Saturday’s 21-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers at the Edward Jones Dome. “I just felt like today was better, much better. We’re going to have to look at it on tape — it always seems to be somewhere in between how you felt about your play and how it actually grades out on film — but right now, I feel a lot better about today than I did about last week.’’

    The 6-foot-1, 206-pound Davis, who was signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2013 draft, made four tackles and also broke up a pass near the goal line late in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss. Earlier in the third quarter, Davis came up with the game’s lone turnover, scooping up a fumble near midfield after Green Bay’s DuJuan Harris was stripped of the ball by Rams’ rookie defensive back Lamarcus Joyner.

    “We finally got the ball out,’’ Davis said. “Joyner did a great job of stripping it and it popped right off the turf for me.’’

    After four weeks on the practice squad a year ago, Davis was promoted and contributed mainly on special teams as a rookie. He ended up tied for third on the team with six special-team tackles in 2013.

    Davis struggled in the preseason opener against New Orleans. On a play that stood out, he filled a gap to deliver a shot to Saints’ back Mark Ingram, only to have the ex-Alabama star bounce the play outside and continue to the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown.

    NFL teams do not do much live tackling in practice and that, Davis said, takes some getting used to.

    “You definitely have to shake off the rust during these early preseason games,’’ he said. “Since we don’t take guys to the ground in practice, you don’t really get a chance to simulate wrapping up and finishing plays the way you need to.

    “It definitely forced me to focus a little more on my technique in practice this week. On top of that, sometimes you just try too hard and I think that was part of my problem in that first game.’’

    Davis said he’ll continue to work and fine-tune his game as the Rams prepare for Saturday’s preseason game with the Browns in Cleveland.

    “We had some good communication out there today,’’ he said. “Things were flying around out there, especially in their hurry-up offense, so a big part of my job is to make sure that we get the play called and that everybody is on the same page. Definitely working on quickness and communication.’’

    Davis wasn’t the only young defender looking to step up his game against the Packers. Marcus Roberson, an undrafted free agent from Florida, started at corner in place of injured Janoris Jenkins and finished with one tackle and several pass defenses Saturday. On a fourth-and-goal from the Rams’ 5 late in the third quarter, Roberson’s tight man-to-man coverage forced the Packers’ Andrew Quarless to push off, giving the ball back to the Rams.

    Greg Reid, another rookie free agent cornerback, had three tackles, including one for loss, and a pair of pass defenses against the Packers. Eureka High product Maurice Alexander, a safety selected in the fourth round of May’s draft, chipped in with four tackles and an assist.

    “We’re all out there battling and trying to make a name for ourselves, to get the attention of the coaching staff,’’ said linebacker Phillip Steward. “There’s pressure, but you just have to put aside the distractions and focus on playing football.

    “But for me, just getting to play again has been a blast.’’

    Signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2013 draft, Steward went down with a torn Achilles tendon just before training camp a year ago and spent last season on injured reserve. Saturday, he had a tackle, a sack and a quarterback hurry.

    “Last year was tough — the rehab is six to eight months and I’d really never been hurt before — I didn’t know how to adjust,’’ the University of Houston product said. “And watching games, that was the worst. The first game back, against the Saints, I was nervous and then, watching the film, I could see that I was playing timid. But this game, I wasn’t nervous or nothing, so I wasn’t holding anything back. I was out there trying to make plays and having a lot of fun.

    “I got a lot more time on special teams today and felt like I was getting better with each rep. Each time down the field, I made sure to get my guy down or at least make sure he wasn’t anywhere near the play.’’