Rams' Lamarcus Joyner happy he pushed for move from cornerback to free safety

The scene was among the most compelling in last year’s “Hard Knocks” series about the Rams.

Lamarcus Joyner, a slot cornerback, met with former coach Jeff Fisher to explain his absence from a training camp workout. The second-round pick in the 2014 draft was frustrated about his lack of a starting role.

“I wanted a chance at something I wanted to do that I felt like I worked for,” Joyner said this week, “but it wasn’t my time.”

It is now.

With a new defensive staff led by coordinator Wade Phillips, Joyner is working at free safety, the position he said he has longed to play.

“This is really a dream come true,” Joyner said after the Rams’ first organized team activity workout. “To get into that driver’s seat of being where you want to be is a great feeling for me.”

Joyner, 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, played safety and cornerback in youth leagues and high school. He played cornerback as a freshman at Florida State, moved to safety for the next two seasons and then earned All-America recognition as a senior cornerback.

With the Rams, Joyner played as a hybrid corner and inside linebacker in former coordinator Gregg Williams’ 4-3 scheme. Last season, he made 50 tackles, forced a fumble and deflected five passes.

Joyner said Rams general manager Les Snead and Kevin Demoff, vice president of football operations, knew of his desire to play safety.

“It’s been something I’ve been working toward my whole career,” Joyner said. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t be put in this position with the old staff.”

When new coach Sean McVay and Phillips were hired in January, Joyner said he repeated his desire to play safety. Phillips is installing a 3-4 scheme.

“I’m more of a ‘find-ball-see-ball’ guy,” Joyner said, “and coach Wade Phillips’ philosophy is: ‘The ball is the most important thing: Get to the ball.’

“And that’s what I like doing. At safety, I can see the whole field. I’m not in man-to-man every play. I get to use my strengths to run and hit, or run and go get the ball out of the air, things that I like doing.”

Maurice Alexander, the starting free safety last season, is expected to move to strong safety as a replacement for T.J. McDonald, who signed with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander did not participate in an April minicamp because of an unspecified injury. He also sat out the first organized team activity workout.

Veteran Cody Davis and John Johnson, a third-round draft pick from Boston College, are among other safeties on the roster.

The Rams signed Nickell Robey-Coleman to play as a slot corner, but Joyner still could play as a cornerback in certain packages.

“You want to find as many ways to get him on the field as possible,” McVay said of Joyner. “Whether that’s him at nickel — which I think he’s one of the elite players at that spot in this league — or the safety, I think you see an instinctual player that has a great feel for the game.”

Joyner is happy for the new opportunity at safety.

“It’s been something I’ve been doing all my life, preparing to be a pro,” he said. “Now I actually have the opportunity to do it at the pro level, which is a blessing from God for me.”

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

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