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James Laurinaitis And The 'New' Faces Of The St. Louis Rams

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Aug 25, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; St Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis (55) on the sidelines during the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Rams 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Aug 25, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; St Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis (55) on the sidelines during the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Rams 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Five-years, $41.5 million is a pretty good sign that James Laurinaitis is the face of this St. Louis Rams team, one of the mainstays at any rate. The second-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft has certainly earned his place as cornerstone of the team's lineup. His new contract comes a day after he was selected by his teammates as one of the team's captains.

That was a career first for Laurinaitis, as well as Sam Bradford and Brit Miller, who were also picked as captains for the year by their teammates. Steven Jackson is the fourth captain.

For the last week, the youth of this Rams team has been a topic of conversation. The roster features 17 rookies. Not so long ago, Laurinaitis, Bradford, Long, et al were the youthful core of the team. And they still are. Long is the oldest of the bunch at 27. Laurinaitis is just 25, and Bradford turns 25 in November.

These guys, these captains, aren't young in the sense of being inexperienced anymore. They have all been around, through ups and, mostly, downs with the Rams. Looking ahead at the 2012 season, we may all be guilty of underselling just how much the experience of these foundational players, the captains, matters for the Rams.