By GREG BEACHAM AP Sports Writer
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) – Jalen Ramsey rallied the Los Angeles Rams defensive backs and took everyone to the Dodgers NL Division playoff game earlier this week.
On Thursday night, the DBs gathered again and headed downtown to watch the Los Angeles Kings NHL season opener at Staples Center.
Ramsey is the leader of those outings, and the 2020 All-Pro says it’s all part of being the team leader he strives to be.
“Honestly, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Ramsey said Thursday. “When I was in Jacksonville, we tried to find certain things to do. We were the only professional team there so it was difficult to find things to do. When I got traded here in LA I was just trying to acclimate that first year and then the next year it was COVID. So this year I’m like, ‘Let’s live a little. Be careful, hide, but live a little, have a little fun, and build a little team chemistry.
Ramsey’s leadership skills evolve with his talent on the pitch during an outstanding start to the season in his handyman role for the Rams (4-1), who visit the New York Giants (1-4) on Sunday .
Ramsey never stays in one position for long in most Los Angeles games. In his unique role defined as the “star” position, he lines up against the wide ones, but he also keeps the ends tight or the lunge receivers, and he slips steadily inside near the line of scrimmage, playing a role similar to that of a linebacker.
And unlike some of the best cornerbacks of decades, Ramsey enjoys playing physical football – he’s a heavy, avid hitter who enjoys attacking as much as he enjoys disrupting passes. He ranks fifth on the Rams with 29 tackles to make with five defended passes and one interception despite each quarterback’s mistrust of throwing the ball in his direction.
“Jalen is so big and he’s so physical,” said coach Sean McVay. “He hired offensive linemen and recovered them pretty well and blew up the games.… When you have a guy setting the tone at the back like that, it affects everyone. I think he does. is really reviving the level of play and the expectations, that endurance to competition, that we are looking for.
Ramsey’s mind this week is on the difficulties posed by the absence of starting cornerback Darious Williams, his counterpart most of his time in Los Angeles. Williams is out for at least the next three games with a sprained ankle, and Ramsey has prepared his inexperienced teammates Robert Rochell and David Long for increased responsibilities.
“This week is definitely a week where guys are going to be thrown around and have the opportunity to show who they are and what they can do,” Ramsey said. “It’s an important week for a lot of guys, (but) for some guys who are just starting the season it’s even more important for them. D-Will is our brother, so we think we need to put him on and make sure there’s no super-decline in our game there. We will take it personally.
Ramsey essentially forced his exit from Jacksonville, but all concerns about his team’s engagement were wiped out in Los Angeles. Whether connect with young cancer patients, come to a game in a full mariachi costume pay tribute to the team’s internal group, or signing of fans’ jerseys at red lights, Ramsey is a positive public face of the franchise.
Ramsey has been a (masked) man in town lately, catching both the Dodgers’ playoffs against the Giants earlier in the week, with a teammate for the second outing.
“It was packed,” Ramsey said of Dodger Stadium. “It was live in there. It was a cool little atmosphere, a cool vibe.
Ramsey is also friendly with Mookie Betts, the Dodgers superstar outfielder and fellow Nashville native. Betts are two years older than Ramsey, but they’ve played in many of the same youth programs in multiple sports.
“I’ve always known Mookie,” Ramsey said. “Mookie has always been super talented. Our families know each other. He’s someone our hometown admires and feels like one of the all-time greats to come out of Nashville, so there’s a lot of respect for him.
NOTES: DT Aaron Donald has been limited to training by a knee injury, but the 2020 All-Pro says he will play in New York. … K Matt Gay returned to full training on Thursday after being limited by an ankle injury. … Donald has indicated that the Rams will promote veteran DB Donte Deayon to the active roster training team for Sunday with Williams out. Deayon appeared in seven games for LA from 2018-19 after starting his NFL career with the Giants.
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