Leonard Floyd was the Rams’ silent assassin on the edge

There are benefits to being upstaged in the Rams’ defense by lineman Aaron Donald, three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and outside linebacker Von Miller, a former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and the league’s active leader with 115½ career sacks.

“I don’t need to talk to the media so much – I don’t get all the attention they get,” Leonard Floyd said in a video conference call. “It gives me peace, you know? I have nothing else to do but play football, and that’s all I want to do. I don’t care about all the extras. I just want to line up and play.

There was no avoiding the spotlight this week. The Rams face the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, and they’re counting on the potentially devastating combination of power and speed in the 6-foot-4, 251-pound Floyd to play a key role in mastering Cincinnati’s dynamic offense. .

“Every time you bring up the name Von, you have to bring up the name Flo because of the kind of player he is,” Donald said. “He’s a big, strong guy, but at the same time he has the technique and the speed to play on the edge. He’s a great playmaker for us, another guy who’s been a huge part in the why we are here today.

Super Bowl LVI Coverage

Floyd, in his second year with the Rams, benefits from the presence of Donald and Miller — especially when Donald is positioned on Floyd’s side of the line — because they get so much attention from opposing blockers.

“It’s crazy to see the offense devoting so many people to one person, which they should be doing because AD is a monster, a real monster,” said Floyd, who signed a $64 million contract. over four years before this season. “Once a team put four people on him.”

When opponents focus heavily on Donald and Miller, there’s more wiggle room for Floyd, who has 9½ sacks this season — second on the team behind Donald (12½) — to go with 70 combined tackles, seven tackles for loss and 18 quarterback hits. .

The Rams have 50 sacks this season, third in the league. The Bengals had 55 sacks, third in the league, and quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked nine times in a 19-16 AFC Divisional playoff win over Tennessee.

“All the guys up front are so quick, and we want that so badly, it’s like a competition to see who’s going to get there first,” Floyd said. “How we play in attack is going to dictate whether we win or lose.”

Go green

Five weeks ago, Eric Weddle was about to enter his third year of retirement from the NFL, his days happily filled with basketball games, coaching his son’s 12-and-under football team and commuting with his three daughters to and from football, volleyball and basketball practice.

On Sunday at SoFi Stadium, Weddle will not only start the Super Bowl, but he will also wear the “green dot,” giving the 37-year-old safety authority relay signals from defensive coordinator Raheem Morris via a helmet microphone, a task reserved for defenders who are expected to play every snap.

Rams Eric Weddle stretches before a playoff game.

Eric Weddle was added to the Rams’ roster very late in the season, but after some brainwashing, he’ll take the charge to safety in Super Bowl LVI.

(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

“I held the ‘mic’ for four or five years, so that’s nothing new,” Weddle said after practice Friday in Thousand Oaks. “It’s actually beneficial, I think, for a security to have it, because you always know the secondary is going to have the call.

“In fast tempo, no-huddle situations, big plays happen because guys don’t know what the call is. It’s a tough transition if you guys haven’t done it, so it’s a smooth transition for me because I’ve done it before and I’ll be on the pitch every game.

The added responsibility is the culmination of Weddle’s rapid transformation from a reserve who played 19 snaps in Game 1 of the playoffs against Arizona to a key defender who played 61 of 72 snaps (85%) against Tampa Bay and the 51 snaps with a team-leading nine. tackles in the NFC title game against San Francisco.

“He’s been special ever since he walked into the building with his communication, his leadership and his game,” Morris said. “Make no mistake, we didn’t bring him here just to talk. We brought him up to be a playmaker, which he has become.

Good guy, bad sport

Bengals coach Zac Taylor, an assistant for the Rams in 2017-18, has coached more than football in Southern California. In the spring of 2018, he coached a Newbury Park Pony League Pinto Black Division team of 7 and 8 year olds which included his son, Brooks.

“I was the worst coach in the league, I can promise you that,” Taylor said with a smile. “They lacked a coach…I don’t have any baseball experience. I only played in CM2. My son wanted to play, so I signed up as a coach.

Involved in the Rams’ offseason program at the same time, Taylor was often late for practices. He praised the other dads on the team for their help.

“Our record wasn’t great, but I had a great time,” Taylor said. “It was a cool thing to be a part of, but that wasn’t where my coaching was going to shine, I can promise you that.”

injury report

Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. and defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day will be activated from injured reserve for the game, but tight end Tyler Higbee (knee) and reserve tackle Joe Noteboom (chest) are absent.

Editors Jeff Miller and Jack Harris contributed to this report.


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