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St. Louis Rams: Is Laurinaitis A Keystone For Post Season Hopes?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Rams make the postseason in 2014? If their defense lives up to the current billing, riding a 2000-ish Baltimore Ravens-like effort could see them through. If so, the person I see who now holds the key for success in 2014 isn't on offense, or playing defensive end. It's a guy who stands in the middle, just behind his defensive line...

James Laurinaitis is the hinge point for the Rams now, and not Sam Bradford. Every great defense that's led their team to the post season had a GREAT middle linebacker steering it's course, and stayed healthy throughout the year. Lately, I've been noticing the complete lack of depth behind Laurinaitis on the Rams depth chart. How about you?

Jeff Fisher will be scanning waivers wires with Les Snead, and the position they'll have at the top of their lists is inside linebacker. We've seen Jo Lonn Dunbar slide to the middle when Laurinaitis went down with an ankle injury early in the preseason, as well as Darren Bates; a second tier linebacker who spends most of his time on special teams. But when you look at the Rams' depth chart, it's lack of a "true" ILB back up is rather glaring.

Today's game in the Edward Jones Dome will be Laurinaitis' first game back. How he'll steer this defense is key to any hopes the Rams have, of not just reaching the post season, but a year where they peek over the .500 win percentage mark. There's a lot riding on #55's healing ankle, so I can't help but think if this team has a keystone, it's the former Ohio State standout. Can Jeff Fisher really be riding into the 2014 season without finding a capable back up for Laurinaitis?