Meet Dont’e Deayon: Rams’ secret weapon against Jared Goff and Lions
For four seasons, before the Rams traded Goff to the Lions for Matthew Stafford, coach Sean McVay designed and called plays for him. Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee caught passes from him.
But no player might know Goff’s tendencies better than cornerback Dont’e Deayon.
For most of three-plus seasons, Deayon toiled on the Rams practice squad, lining up against Goff and the first-team offense but rarely getting an opportunity to parlay that experience into games.
So Deayon, suddenly a key player on the Rams active roster, is looking forward to Sunday’s game against Goff and the Lions at SoFi Stadium.
“As far as his QB mechanics, yeah I’m kind of familiar with it a little bit,” Deayon said, laughing. “So just try to stay on top of that and make it hard on him.”
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With starting cornerback Darious Williams sidelined because of an ankle injury, the Rams last Sunday activated Deayon for the first time this season. In a 38-11 victory over the New York Giants, he made four tackles and played 66 snaps — second most among Rams players.
Asked if he had anticipated such a large role, Deayon chuckled.
“To be honest, no, I didn’t think that would happen,” he said. “But I was definitely ready for it, prepared for it.”
Deayon, 27, has bounced between NFL practice squads and rosters since 2016, when the former Fontana Summit High and Boise State standout signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent. He played in a few games in 2017 and 2018 before the Rams signed him to the practice squad late in the 2018 season.
Deayon played in three games in 2019 but was not active for any games last season. Last summer, he was sidelined during training camp because of a hamstring injury. He was cut and then re-signed to the practice squad.
“You got to prepare like you’re going to play every week whether you’re on the practice squad or whatever the case may be,” he said.
The Rams sign practice squad players after training camp with the intent of activating them when needed, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said.
Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald will be chasing down Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff for the first time Sunday.
But how did the 5-foot-9, 159-pound Deayon go from 0 to 66 snaps?
“You’ve got to capitalize when you get those small roles that become bigger and bigger every single time,” Morris said. “That’s exactly what he did.”
Teammates seemed overjoyed for Deayon, an ebullient personality in the locker room and on the practice field.
“Dont’e did a great job stepping in in his role, bringing the juice, bringing the energy, had some good plays out there,” star cornerback Jalen Ramsey said.
McVay noted that Deayon probably made an impression on fans during the Rams’ appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” in 2020.
“He’s got a great personality, really charismatic, incredibly intelligent guy,” McVay said, adding, “He’s a great positive story for continuing to work, overcome some things, whether it be the size or you’re like, ‘Can he really play?’
“And then he gets his opportunity and to his credit, he capitalized on it and think you’re going to see them have more opportunities as we move forward.”
Deayon said that “bringing energy” comes naturally.
“I love being engaged, being excited — and I study and try to prepare myself the best that I can so I’m out there playing energetic, free and loose,” he said. “The guys feed off that and I feed off their energy.
“Aaron Donald or Jalen Ramsey telling me that I’m bringing them some energy and turning them up — that’s going to make me play even better.”
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