One of the prevailing offseason story lines for the Rams was the influx of linebackers added to compete at every spot besides the one locked down by James Laurinaitis.
The team brought in Zac Diles from Houston, Brady Poppinga from Green Bay and Ben Leber from Minnesota along with the selection of Jabara Williams in the seventh round of the draft.
Now that David Vobora and Na’il Diggs are out the door, it’s time to make a case for Williams and Chris Chamberlain to make the final 53 man roster.
Starting last season, Sam Bradford, Chris Long, Laurinaitis, Rodger Saffold, Jason Smith and Bradley Fletcher began collectively fulfilling their promise, forming a young core of potential stars.
Chamberlain and Williams could become cornerstones as well, flanking JL for the next decade, but only if they are given a legitimate shot.
The Case for Chris Chamberlain.
Chamberlain has already made a case for himself, leading the special teams unit in tackles in both 2008 and 2009 with a combined 47 stops.
Last season, Chamberlain saw 21 plays in the starting line-up, mostly on the weakside, according to Football Outsiders annual almanac. He also had 34 tackles with two forced fumbles in 2010.
Despite only starting 3.7 percent of the defenses’ total plays, he had an 80 percent stop rate, leading the Rams linebackers.
He gave up an average of only 1.7 yards per carry on run plays designated in his direction and was solid in passing downs by only allowing a completion rate of 36 percent among St. Louis players who were targeted more than five times.
Chamberlain was also ranked in the top-20 of Outsiders’ 2010 list that rates the combination of tackles and assists made during special teams scenarios.
Given the time and reps, he could continue to develop into a surefire starter as soon as the middle of this season.
The Case for Jabara Williams
Williams has a considerably smaller sample size, but he has flashed talent so far in the preseason.
He has only six tackles, but has consistently been around the ball and could be a thumper on special teams until a hole opens up at strongside linebacker.
If the Rams only keep seven linebackers, Laurinaitis, Leber, Diles and Poppinga are probably locks with Josh Hull stepping in as a backup in the middle.
With only two spots left, St. Louis should bank on Chamberlain and Williams to contribute now and in the future.