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Youngsters Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp are now Rams safety net

Youngsters Jordan Fuller Taylor Rapp are now Rams safety net
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As a rookie last season, safety Jordan Fuller played a crucial supporting role for a Rams defense that ranked among the NFL’s best.

Now Fuller is preparing for something bigger.

With safety John Johnson gone to the Cleveland Browns after receiving a huge free-agent contract, Fuller is expected to emerge as a leader of a unit aiming to repeat or surpass its 2020 performance.

During a videoconference with reporters Tuesday, Fuller said he was not the only defensive back seeking to fill the void left by Johnson’s departure.

“I definitely take it on my shoulders,” he said, “and I know just all the DBs as a group are trying to take that on.

“He was a great leader, great communicator. Really, really smart. So that’s kind of part of the reason I want to work on my Football 101, like learning the ins and outs of the game because John was great at that.”

Fuller, 23, showed similar promise last season. He was drafted in the sixth round after playing at Ohio State and, despite an off-season program that was conducted virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic, arrived at training camp ready to compete.

Second-year pro Taylor Rapp was projected to start at safety with Johnson — the defensive signal-caller — but Rapp was sidelined because of a knee injury. Fuller stepped into the lineup and made a critical stop in the opener against the Dallas Cowboys. He suffered shoulder injuries that sidelined him for four games, but he started 12 and intercepted three passes.

Rams safety Taylor Rapp is projected to be a starter next to Jordan Fuller.

(Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press
)

“We saw it from Day 1,” Ejiro Evero, who has coached Rams safeties since 2017, said last season. “He’s just wired the right way. Extremely smart, extremely dedicated to his craft, and a lot better playing coming out than people gave him credit for.”

Evero now oversees the entire secondary for a staff that has undergone major change. Coach Sean McVay hired Raheem Morris to replace coordinator Brandon Staley, who left to become coach of the Chargers. Cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant and inside linebackers coach Joe Barry also departed for promotions with other teams.

Devin Fuller, Jordan’s brother, was an Atlanta Falcons receiver in 2016 and 2017, when Morris coached receivers.

“He was like, ‘Yeah, you’re going to love him. He’s going to coach everybody the same,’ ” Jordan Fuller said his brother told him about Morris. “He has a lot of energy. It’s great being around him.”

Fuller and Rapp, who started 10 games as a rookie in 2019, are the most experienced members of a safety corps that includes Nick Scott and Terrell Burgess, who suffered a season-ending ankle surgery as a rookie.

The Rams began organized team activity workouts this week. After 2020’s virtual offseason, Fuller said he was enjoying being around teammates.

“It’s given a bunch of us excuses just to be around each other and work on that glue, as we always say,” Fuller said, “Because the tighter we are, the better we’re going to be.”

For durability, the 6-foot-2, 203-pound Fuller said he was “trying to like build some armor” via increased upper body strength. He said he also was studying body movement and technique of safeties such as Johnson, Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos and Jessie Bates of the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Trying to understand what they’re seeing,” he said. “Stuff like that. Basically, motivation to get where they’re at and then surpass that.”

Fuller might have exceeded others’ expectations as a rookie, but he knows he has much to prove.

“Year 2, there’s more expectations — you’re not expected to make rookie mistakes anymore,” he said. “Also, it’s just like natural for you to maybe speak up more as you grow and there’s younger guys that you need to pour into and lead along the way.

“But … it’s nothing I haven’t done before.”

Etc.

SoFi Stadium will accommodate fans at full capacity, which is about 70,000 for football, the Rams announced. California announced last week that the state would remove stadium capacity limits on June 15. The Rams play the Chargers in a preseason game on Aug. 14. The Rams open the season Sept. 12 against the Chicago Bears.





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