THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - After each week's games, NFL Network, Fox Sports and Compass Media Networks football analyst Brian Baldinger goes through the all-22 film and highlights what stands out to him.
Going over Rams-Bears from Week 1, the physical play of Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey captured Baldinger's attention so strongly, he put together a 2 minute and 20 second breakdown of the different ways it made an impact against the Bears and shared it with his nearly 259,000 Twitter followers on Tuesday.
"This guy absolutely embraces it and loves it and wants it," Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said after Thursday's practice. "He's able to go in and mix it up with the big boys, is able to go out and play with the skilled guys and match skill with those guys. He likes to be challenged. He likes to move around and likes to do different things."
For Ramsey, it's just something that comes naturally as a part of his game.
He told reporters after Friday's practice that he doesn't view himself as just a cornerback - the position is just what he's played out of necessity and how he's been viewed by the NFL - but rather a defensive back capable of impacting the game from different spots.
"I feel like I'm just a defensive back, so (I) could play anywhere on the field and it's just part of my game," Ramsey said. "That's part of where my impact comes from is also being physical, not just covering guys."
As seen in the clips shared by Baldinger and throughout last Sunday's game overall, the Rams have deployed Ramsey accordingly, lining him up both inside at the hybrid "star" position and on the outside. He was disruptive at both spots, whether it was tackling Bears wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for a two-yard loss on a jet-sweep, teaming up with linebacker Troy Reeder to halt Bears running back Damien Williams for a 3-yard loss after taking on a 6-foot-3, 316-pound left guard (Cody Whitehair), or a perfectly-timed hard hit on Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson to prevent a completion.
"It's different," Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said after Thursday's practice. "I was watching film and seeing him coming up in a box, hitting off with some linemen and holding the ends. (There isn't a) player like him in the National Football League. He can do it all. He's a special talent. He loves the game. He plays with a lot of passion. He flies around and he's a playmaker. So I'm just happy he's on our team."
Having a player like Ramsey who provides that physicality against the run and in coverage is especially important when facing a team like the Colts, which had the NFL's 11th-best rushing offense last year and returns much of the personnel that contributed to it this season, including running backs Jonathan Taylor (1,169 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie last year) and Nyheim Hines (63 receptions for 482 yards and four touchdowns, plus 89 carries for 380 yards and three touchdowns).
"It's equivalent to the (Saints running back) Alvin Kamaras or these joker types of players - the (Raiders tight end Darren) Wallers, the (49ers tight George) Kittles that can do a lot of different things that you don't really know how they're going to be activated, but you know they're going to influence and affect the game," Rams head coach Sean McVay said of Ramsey's versatility. "That's what Jalen is doing for our defense."
Even when Ramsey was playing primarily on the outside, his mindset for finishing a tackle was the same.
No matter how it looks, or how it's described, though, there's only one thing that is important to him.
"There's a difference between tackling and hitting, and I like to hit," Ramsey said. "So, it's about leverages - sometimes your size factors into it. I've been blessed to have decent size and they make good equipment and good pads and stuff, so it doesn't hurt or anything like that. It's just sometimes a will and a want-to, but I mean, whether it's a big hit or just a simple tackle, as long as we get them down that's all that matters, to be honest."
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