The position of defensive tackle is one that has haunted Rams fans for the better part of the decade. One only need look at the club's rank against the rush in 2011 to see that the defensive tackle position is of the utmost importance this season. The Rams ranked 31st in the league against the run and 22nd in overall defense. The Rams have the duo of Assistant Head Coach Dave McGinnis and Head Coach Jeff Fisher to help bring some run stuffing "coaching up" to the Rams D-line. Both coaches have much experience running a blitz heavy 46 package; this off season, the team ensured they would have the personnel on board to run their style of defense.
In camp the unquestioned starters at defensive tackle will be 2012 first round draft choice Michael Brockers, he of Louisiana State University, and Kendall Langford, the former Miami Dolphin who has the ability to eat up space and occupy a gap. Both Langford and Brockers are big bodied men who will be asked mainly to keep the offensive guards and the center busy, while the defensive ends and linebackers pursue the quarterback or running back. Of course when the running backs are trying to hit the inside gaps, they will have the duty of wrapping the wee-men up and taking them to the ground.
A camp battle for this position is unlikely, but there are a few names to keep your eye on who will be vying for a chance to start or gain ground as a rotational player. Look for Trevor Laws, the former Philadelphia Eagle, working to solidify his spot as the third defensive tackle. He was a career third man with the Eagles, and at just 27, has some productive years ahead of him. Laws will be fending off 4th year Ram Darell Scott, who will likely lock down the 4th spot ahead of a trio of projected special teams players in Cornell Banks, Matthew Conrath, and Jermelle Cudjo.
The thing to watch in camp is how Kendall Langford adjusts to the 4-3 primary scheme after playing in the 3-4 of the Miami Dolphins. It will also be interesting to see Brockers adjusting to the speed and power of NFL offensive linemen and trying to corral running backs Steven Jackson and Isaiah Pead. After playing in the run heavy SEC, he should be up to the task with proper coaching and preparation. While the defensive tackle position battles may not be the most exciting part of camp and the upcoming preseason, it will be the position that will be the key to the Rams avoiding the 152 rushing yards per game they gave up last year. Here's to a great camp and an even greater season. Go Rams!