Outside linebackers a big plus for the St. Louis Rams

Chris Trotman

Remember when the St. Louis Rams outside linebackers stunk? Those days are gone.

St. Louis Rams outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar actually had two sacks in last week's loss to the Miami Dolphins. The NFL adjusted its official numbers on Thursday. It's just one more mathematical validation of the incredible season Dunbar is having so far, a career rejuvenation since joining the Rams as a free agent in the offseason.

Remember how many of us were losing sleep at night over the Rams' situation at outside linebacker back in August? It looked like the team's run defense woes of recent years might just continue. Instead, the linebackers have been an essential, but little recognized part of the team's top-10 defense.

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Jo-Lonn Dunbar body slams Reggie Bush. Steve Mitchell - US PRESSWIRE

Team insiders are praising the linebackers, according to Pro Football Weekly. Here's a quote from said insider on Dunbar:

"He's been a little ball of fire. He runs well, he hits hard and he brings a lot of energy to the defense. He has delivered some crushing hits, like the one he put on (QB) Kevin Kolb against the Cardinals. Sometimes he gets a little overaggressive and gets sucked in on play-action, but for the most part, he's been yet another really good free-agent pickup this year."

And here's that same unidentified source, which is likely a media member, on Mario Haggan:

"... he's been very solid. Certainly a lot better than Brady Poppinga was last year."

I wouldn't discount the new mindset, the new coaching staff, around Rams Park as having an impact as well. Linebackers coach Blake Williams is the best kept secret on the team, working under the veteran eyes of Dave McGinnis and Jeff Fisher.

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