St. Louis Rams linebacker Larry Grant was kind enough to talk to us earlier this week. In our conversation he shared plenty of insight into how the Rams defense is using the informal workout session, the transition over the last three years, the Rams weakside linebacker spot and what's ahead for the Rams defense. The former Ohio State Player also talked a little bit about the situation at his former school.
Here's the first part of our conversation with Larry Grant. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @LarryGrant59.
I started with the most obvious question for NFL players right now, what was he doing with his lockout time:
Same thing as everybody else. Trying to stay in shape. All this time off, it’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. A lot of players don’t want to be off, but we’re getting the benefit of getting our bodies back in tip-top shape. I'm also spending a lot of time with my kids, seeing my family and working out.
All the talk about the informal player-led practices has focused on Bradford and the receivers learning the offense, but the defense, the linebackers and the defensive backs, have been practices as well. And what has been the focus for the Rams defenders during those practices?
It’s been more of us giving our offense a look. I didn’t actually get to make it to the one in Arizona, but the one here in St. Louis I made. We’ve got a good grasp of our defense; it was just getting our brains back in football mode and giving our offense the best we could possibly give them. Doing a lot of footwork drills…doing things together to keep us close as a unit.
Even though we’re off now, we still have notes, we still have other things. Some players have film that we still take a look at together sometimes. It seems like everybody’s got a good grasp of the defense. We can only go up from here.
With Spagnuolo's defense, the front four and the pass rush gets most of the attention. The role the linebackers play is a little different. Here is Grant's take on the role of the linebackers in Spagnuolo and Flajole's defensive system:
You’re basically the head honchoes of the defense. We’re the head guys. We’re the guys that get the front lined up. We have to make sure each other are lined up properly, and we have to make plays. We play off of each other pretty well. Running the ball, passing, we have to always make sure we’re in our area, doing the right things…we just have to make plays.
How is he staying informed about the lockout and developments around the labor talks as a player during the lockout?
I watch TV. Whatever I see on ESPN, that’s what I go by. I get a little bit more excited every day and this is going to the come to the end soon…hopefully soon...as in, like, tomorrow. Whichever way it goes, we’ll be prepared and ready to go.
It's funny to hear another player say that they get most of their info from television, i.e. the same places most of us do. The NFL built a large part of its response to the antitrust case around the notion that the NFLPA's decertification was a sham, i.e. that they were still acting as a union. Yet, here are former union members in good standing telling us that they get their news related to their industry from mainstream media outlets, just like the fans.
As I mentioned above, I asked Larry Grant about his thoughts on the situation with Coach Jim Tressel's resignation and the world of college football. What was his reaction to the news?
Pretty surprised. I was pretty sad about everything too. Terrelle Pryor is a big man for doing what he did, apologizing to everybody and saying some of the things he said. It was very unfortunate that Coach Tressel has to step down and things had to turn out this way. The state of Ohio and the city of Columbus and Buckeye Nation loves Coach Tressel and we’re behind him with everything that he does. Whatever he route he takes in his future, we wish him the best. Great man, great father figure to all the boys that he coached. Everybody learned a lot from him.
We’re still excited about Coach Fickell. It’s been a long time coming for Coach Fick as well. He got his dream job. From a guy that played under Coach Fickell, if everybody buys into his system and what he wants to do, the sky’s the limit for the Buckeyes. Even with all the sanctions going on, Coach Fickell is going to lead that team as if they’re going to the national championship every year. And everybody’s going to see the difference of the play from the guys this year and the guys last year.
As NCAA scandals often do, this one provoked a short-lived dialog about the disconnect between the money wrapped up in college football and the players on the field, who don't make any. I ask Grant whether or not that seemed like a disconnect.
I never really saw it as a disconnect. You’re really blessed. It’s not guaranteed that everybody gets a scholarship to a school like Ohio State. It’s a priveldge to get that scholarship. A lot of players take advantage and embrace the fact that they got that scholarship. They use it and they go to school; they graduate. But some players get kind of selfish and want to do certain things for money. I think a lot of players and student athletes in college embrace the fact that they have a scholarship.
Our back is against the wall because, of course, everybody wants to make money now, but at the end of the day we have a full scholarship to graduate at a very prestigious university, whichever one it may be. The majority of players embrace that fact.
More from our interview with Larry Grant to come, specifically, the road ahead for the Rams defense in 2011 and his take on the weakside linebacker spot last year. Look for that soon.
Thanks again to Larry Grant for talking to us.