The Rams’ linebacker carousel: Ben Leber in? James Laurinaitis out?

former Viking Ben Leber also knows his way around a tailor's shop.
Former Viking outside linebacker Ben Leber knows his way around a tailor’s shop. A haberdashery? Not so much.

While they didn’t chase a big-ticket receiver, the Rams have been surprisingly busy and effective in free agency, acting like a team that wants to load up and take a legitimate shot at the NFC West. Count the addition of five-year-veteran linebacker Ben Leber from Minnesota among those effective moves, if the deal reported by John Clayton goes down.

The move to acquire Leber, like those to grab Harvey Dahl and Quintin Mikell, stands ready to be applauded by the fellows at Pro Football Focus. Quintin was their top-rated safety, Dahl their third-rated guard, and Leber their best-rated outside linebacker at defending the pass. And more importantly, his successful play in space at the weakside linebacker spot means that coach Spagnuolo can stop shoehorning undersized straight-line thumpers like Chris Chamberlain and Bryan Kehl in that role, and move them back to special teams where they provide the most value.

However, before Rams fans could even hear conformation of this move, another news item wormed its way out of Rams Camp and immediately into the animal part of our brain that fears injury — especially to our star players. James Laurinaitis has a pectoral muscle injury? One word reaction: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Bill Coats of the Post-Dispatch elaborates:

It might be no big deal, but it was a bit jarring to see James Laurinaitis, the St. Louis Rams’ seemingly indestructible middle linebacker, sitting out some of the drills at practice today.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo explained that Laurinaitis was limited because he’d aggravated a pectoral (chest). “We don’t really know what it is right now,” Spagnuolo said. An X-ray was planned.

Laurinaitis has been an iron man for St Louis since arriving, taking over the starting job from Will Witherspoon in minicamps, before the Training Camp proper had even begun, and he’s played literally every snap — 2,149 of them, to be precise — since then.

So to say the Rams don’t have a plan B if Laurinaitis misses extended time might be an understatement. I mean no disrespect to Josh Hull, of course, but if the middle linebacker is the quarterback of the defense, he is the Keith Null.

But let’s take a deeeeep breath here.



Laurinaitis sat out some drills. We don’t know anything yet. Until he actually misses time there’s no reason to panic. Yet.