After his team’s walkthrough Wednesday afternoon, Rams coach Sean McVay approached Dante Fowler in the locker room and shook hands with the team’s new edge rusher.
“Glad you’re here,” McVay said.
So is Fowler.
The unbeaten Rams traded for the 24-year old Fowler to bolster a team that is preparing for a possible Super Bowl run.
After three-plus seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Fowler said it was “a blessing” to join the Rams, especially as an edge-rushing linebacker in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.
“A new chapter,” he told reporters crowded around his locker. “That’s how I look at it.
“Just a fresh start. For me being able to start over and just show guys who I really am.”
The Rams are attempting to indoctrinate Fowler in time for Sunday’s game at New Orleans against the 6-1 Saints.
“We’ll see how quickly he can get up to speed,” McVay said.
The Rams are counting on Fowler displaying the form that enabled him to record eight sacks last season, with two more in the AFC championship game against the New England Patriots.
The Rams have 22 sacks, 10 by tackle Aaron Donald. Outside linebacker Samson Ebukam has two sacks, and fellow linebacker Matt Longacre zero.
“Had a good, a tough four years with Jacksonville,” said Fowler, who was arrested twice on misdemeanor charges and also got into a fight with a teammate during his Jaguars tenure. “Had some growing pains, but I learned a lot.
“Lot of well-taught lessons, and just going to have me ready for this new journey.”
Rams players welcomed the addition of the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Fowler, who played in college at Florida.
Donald said he was “smiling ear to ear” Tuesday when he learned of the trade that brought the Fowler to the Rams in exchange for two draft picks, a third-round selection in 2019 and a fifth-round pick in 2020.
“What we definitely needed,” Donald said, adding, “Watched him from afar, the success he had. And he’s a playmaker.”
Defensive line coach Bill Johnson showed players film of Fowler, lineman Ethan Westbrooks said.
“It was dope to watch him,” Westbrooks said about the film, “and even doper to meet him. He seemed like a real cool dude.
“He’ll fit in like easy-peasy.”
Fowler is excited about joining a front that includes Donald, Michael Brockers and Ndamukong Suh. He said he grew up watching all of them, naming the colleges for which they starred before they became first-round draft picks.
Fowler said he would be the “extra piece,” and is confident he can win the one-on-one matchups that his new teammates’ prowess creates.
“These guys that I looked up to, I already know their style of game, the way that they play,” he said. “I’m just ready to come in and show these guys that they can trust me, and they know that I’m going to be able to come in here and I’m going to work and they can depend on me.”
The Rams, McVay said, did “a very thorough vetting process” of Fowler before moving forward on the trade-deadline deal. The Rams called coaches “around the league” that had been in Jacksonville and knew Fowler.
“Heard nothing but good things as far as just a great kid, works hard, practices the right way, has great habits,” McVay said.
Fowler said he had moved forward from the incidents in Jacksonville.
“Definitely behind me,” he said, adding, “ready to show guys that I’m professional.”
The New York Giants claimed former Rams offensive lineman Jamon Brown off waivers. The Rams had waived Brown on Tuesday to make room for Fowler. “It was really tough decision,” McVay said. “There’s always some financial things involved in that. … And unfortunately that led to Jamon being let go.” Fowler and Brown both have salary-cap numbers of $1.9 million, according to overthecap.com
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