Rams defensive players making plans to get together

The St. Louis Rams aren’t all together, but different units of the team are getting their act together during the lockout.

The offensive line has been working out informally in suburban St. Charles. The wide receivers are planning on working with quarterback Sam Bradford in Houston. And now Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports the defense is ready to start taking roll call.

“I'm actually coming back next Wednesday,” linebacker James Laurinaitis told Thomas. “I'm going to drive back there (to St. Louis) and just kind of remain for a couple months. I've been in contact with (cornerback) Ron Bartell here and there about trying to get a lot of the defense around each other.”

Someone needs to step up because the leader of the defense – safety O.J. Atogwe – made a dash for the Washington Redskins in free agency after the Rams cut him loose for salary reasons. It’s difficult to build leadership skills when you’re not in a position to lead.

We're just trying to make sure everybody's on the same page, because we felt like we did some good things last year and we don't want to lose that because of the lockout,” Bartell said. “So we're just trying to make sure everybody's staying in shape. We're going to try to set up some things. If this (lockout) does last longer, we're probably going to try to set up some 'team' work in the near future.”

The key is really just staying in shape. It’s not like the players are going to head out – without coaches – and so much in the way of specific football work on a field. It’s all about being in shape and being prepared for when NFL teams can open the doors to their facilities again. Much of the offseason programs are designed to make sure players are ready to hit the ground running with training camp opens. That means staying fit.

“As defensive players, we all know our defense enough to where we could just talk through stuff just to keep each other mentally fresh on that as well,” Laurinaitis said. “I'm not worried about guys being in shape or not. I trust them. If you're a professional, you're going to keep each other in shape. It's just a matter of trying to get as many people around each other as possible.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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