Linebacker Alec Ogletree finds his comfort level in middle of Rams' defense

Linebacker Alec Ogletree finds his comfort level in middle of Rams' defense
Alec Ogletree (52) will start at middle linebacker for the Rams on Saturday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The twice-daily film sessions total four to six hours. Some are conducted in the morning before workouts, others in the evening afterward.

Alec Ogletree, the Rams' new middle linebacker, does not focus exclusively on himself while watching the screen.


His goal: Learning and mastering the responsibilities of the other 10 players on defense, so he can line them up and help them if needed.

On Friday, Ogletree completed the first week in his new role.

"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable," he said of his progress after three organized team activity workouts in Oxnard.

Quarterback Jared Goff's arrival and OTA performances have drawn the most scrutiny, but Ogletree's development as the defensive signal-caller might be of equal importance for a team trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

After the Rams released veteran James Laurinaitis in February, Coach Jeff Fisher announced that Ogletree, a first-round draft pick in 2013, would move from the weakside linebacker to the middle.

The Rams also released end Chris Long, and cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Rodney McLeod signed free-agent contracts with other teams. But the return of many others, and their familiarity with coordinator Gregg Williams' 4-3 scheme and his expectations, has eased his transition, Ogletree said.

"It's definitely helping me fit into the position really well," he said.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Ogletree excelled on the weak side early last season before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals. Safety Mark Barron replaced Ogletree.

Barron signed a five-year, $45-million contract in March and is set to flank Ogletree on one side, with Akeem Ayers on the other.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald said Ogletree, 24, was "doing great" in his new role and that he would remain a playmaker.

"I haven't seen anything that made him uncomfortable," Donald said, "so we're on the right track."

Ogletree is equipped to fill any leadership void, defensive tackle Michael Brockers said.

"He's the right fit," Brockers said. "He takes control."

The Rams have six remaining noncontact OTA workouts.


Ogletree's proficiency in a true scrimmage situation will not be measured until training camp. However, he said he was ready for the responsibility of being the "centerpiece" of the defense and that he would become a more vocal leader.

"When things get stressful, they're going to look to the [middle linebacker] to get us in the call or take control of the defense," he said. "So that's my job and I'm definitely looking forward to doing it."

Goff progressing

After working with the third-team offense the first two days, Goff got more opportunities in the final workout of the week because Case Keenum observed but did not participate in drills. Keenum took first-team snaps Wednesday.

Sean Mannion worked with the first group Friday.

Goff completed several impressive passes, including a touchdown to receiver Paul McRoberts. He also rebounded from an interception and completed several more throws.

Quick hits

Cornerback E.J. Gaines, who sat out last season after undergoing foot surgery, is participating in individual drills but has been held out of most others as a precaution. . . . Rookie tight ends Tyler Higbee and Temarrick Hemingway observed but did not participate in drills. . . . The Rams resume workouts Tuesday with a practice that is closed to media. They also practice Wednesday and Friday.