New linebacker Bobby Wagner signals change in Rams defense

During his successful career with the Seattle Seahawks, six-time All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner learned how to easily make adjustments on the field.

Here’s how a helmetless Wagner looked perfectly comfortable with a walkie-talkie in the middle of the Rams defense Tuesday.

Wagner, accustomed to one-way in-helmet radio communication to relay defense signals, had been looking forward to the rare two-way conversation over the walkie-talkie. But his efforts to respond to coordinator Raheem Morris’ “trash talk” proved fruitless, Wagner said.

“I tried — they cut that part out,” Wagner joked after what was essentially a two-hour walking tour. “You must have known I would reply. I tried holding the button and I didn’t get any noise back.”

Wagner, 32, is expected to offer clear communication, experience and playmaking skills for a defense aimed at helping the Rams repeat themselves as Super Bowl champions.

In 10 seasons with the Seahawks, Wagner won one Super Bowl and played in another. He was released in March the same day the Seahawks traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos.

Wagner, a former Ontario Colony High star, reached an agreement with the Rams a few weeks later.

The Rams won’t be on the pads until later in training camp, but Wagner made his presence felt in organized team activities last spring, outside linebacker Justin Hollins said.

“Oh man he’s amazing,” Hollins said, adding, “just to look at some of the little things he does day in and day out as he works. It’s amazing and I feel like I’ll learn a lot by putting these pads on.”

Over the next few weeks, Morris and coach Sean McVay will try to find ways to maximize Wagner’s talent as the Rams prepare for their opening game on Sept. 8 against the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium.

McVay has spent the last five seasons plotting against Wagner.

“I don’t know if there were any vulnerabilities that could be exploited,” McVay said. “You’re really just trying to find ways to eliminate the impact he has on the game.”

Wagner has been an elite run stopper throughout his career, and the Rams will build on what Wagner provided the Seahawks, McVay said.

“There are some subtleties and different things that we’re going to ask of him when it comes to blitzing and some of the reporting responsibilities,” McVay said.

Wagner is part of an inside linebacker corps that includes pro Ernest Jones sophomore and veteran Travin Howard, who is sidelined following surgery for a groin injury.

Wagner will be in the middle of a defense that also includes star lineman Aaron Donald and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

“They had found a way well before I got here, so for me it’s my job to try to understand everyone who’s around and understand how they’ve done things over the years and just add a bit of experience if needed.” Wagner said.

Wagner said he was impressed by the closeness of the Rams players and coaches.

“Accountability is off the charts,” he said. “I think because you have that cohesiveness and you’re all close by, you can get checked out when you need checked out and you don’t take it personally because you know the guys you’re screening are doing what’s best for them You want to.

“It’s the symbol of a great team.”

Etc.

The Rams remain in the adjustment period of training camp. McVay said the light training focused on the mental part of the game gives players “a way to get their legs back under them.” … Tackle Rob Havenstein, defenseman A’Shawn Robinson and center Brian Allen were among the players given everything or most of the day off. … The Rams will practice on Wednesday and then take Thursday off before their first public practice on Friday.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-07-26/rams-bobby-wagner-middle-linebacker-defense-seahawks New linebacker Bobby Wagner signals change in Rams defense

Emma Bowman

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