When it comes to Rams’ bright spots, picks keep pointing to Cobie Durant
Most NFL defensive backs go entire careers without intercepting more than one pass in a game.
It took Rams rookie Cobie Durant 11 games to achieve the feat.
In last Sunday’s victory over the Denver Broncos, Durant intercepted a first-quarter pass to set up a touchdown, and then put an exclamation point on the 51-14 win with an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“Two picks is not enough,” Durant said Thursday. “I’m trying to beat my record.”
While playing for South Carolina State in a 2021 spring game against Alabama A&M, Durant intercepted three passes in the first half.
Rams coach Sean McVay and his former defensive coordinator Brandon Staley became instant football junkies when they met, and Sunday the mind games take the field.
So, his performance against the Broncos “wasn’t a shocker” Durant said.
“Just being able do to it on the big stage was amazing,” he said, “and a dream come true.”
Durant aims to build on the performance when the Rams play the Chargers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
The Chargers, led by quarterback Justin Herbert, clinched a playoff spot with a victory Monday against the Indianapolis Colts.
Herbert has passed for 21 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions. His main targets include receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and running back Austin Ekeler.
“Those are guys I’ve been watching for a long time — especially Keenan Allen,” Durant said. “He’s a heck of a route runner.
“Just being able to share the field with those guys and compete at a high level, they’re going to bring the best out of me.”
The Rams drafted the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Durant in the fourth round. Durant and fellow rookie Derion Kendrick, a sixth-round pick, made immediate impressions during offseason workouts. They earned playing time with strong performances in training camp matchups against veteran receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson.
“They kind of just burst on the scene,” defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said of the rookies.
In the second game of the season against the Atlanta Falcons, Durant returned an interception 51 yards. He suffered a hamstring injury soon after, however, and was sidelined for four games.
Brandon Staley spent one dominant season as defensive coordinator for Sean McVay’s Rams and earned himself a head-coaching job with the Chargers. Now he faces his mentor in L.A. showdown.
When he returned, he played on special teams for five games until finally getting defensive snaps in a Dec. 4 defeat by the Seattle Seahawks. Two weeks later, he started for the first time against the Green Bay Packers, setting the stage for his performance against the Broncos.
“When I first got back, I was a little shaky to open up the speed,” he said. “Now, it’s just ‘Hey, I’m back.’ ”
The Rams have noticed.
“He’s one of those guys that just has a knack for making plays,” coach Sean McVay said, adding, “He’s got a great play energy and swagger, and those are the things that you could feel during the course of the game and it pops on the tape as well.”
Durant’s ability to play on the outside, inside and in a hybrid role provides Morris another versatile piece to deploy with star Jalen Ramsey and veteran Troy Hill.
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“He’s done nothing but go out there and absolutely shine and show some of that brilliance that he showed in training camp,” Morris said. “He’s out there and he’s just kind of been able to be flexible and … move like a vet.”
The Rams were turnover-starved for much of the season, but they have recently surged with nine interceptions in the last five games, including four against the Broncos.
The Rams are 5-10 and will miss the playoffs, but as the coaching staff looks for “bright spots within the season,” Morris identified Durant.
“That’s one of them,” he said.
Offensive lineman Ty Nsehke (illness) returned to practice. Tight end Tyler Higbee (elbow), defensive lineman Marquise Copeland (ankle) and linebacker Travin Howard (hip) were limited. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald (ankle), receiver Ben Skorownek (calf), center Brian Allen (calf), and quarterback John Wolford (neck) did not practice.
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