Injuries sidelined linebacker Obo Okoronkwo for nearly all of his rookie season in 2018, and the addition of high-profile edge rushers kept him down on the Rams depth chart.
Okoronkwo finally broke through Sunday in the Rams’ 24-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium.
The former Oklahoma standout had 1 ½ of the Rams’ five sacks.
“He’s just relentless,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “He’s a fast guy and gets off the edge with speed. He’s relentless on stunts and he’s going 100 miles per hour.
“That’s how he goes at practice and that’s how you do it in a game. It paid big for him.”
The Rams selected Okoronkwo in the fifth-round of the 2018 draft. He suffered a foot injury during offseason workouts and spent much of the season on the physically unable to perform list while rehabilitating from surgery. He was added to the roster in November but was not active for any games.
During this offseason and training camp, Okoronkwo was slowed by hamstring problems. He flashed his skills in a few preseason games, but veteran edge rusher Clay Matthews, Dante Fowler and Samson Ebukam rotated snaps when the regular season began. There was little opportunity for playing time.
Matthews, however, suffered a broken jaw against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 3. Ebukam moved into a starting role, creating opportunity for Okoronkwo.
Sunday’s output, he said, came about with inspiration from talented teammates.
“I got to rush with some of the best pass rushers I’ve watched,” he said. “Being down there with them definitely slows the game down and makes it a lot more fun.”
Okoronkwo is “an ascending player,” coach Sean McVay said.
“We’re looking forward to see him continue to grow.”