SANTA CLARA – St. Louis Rams inside linebacker James Laurinaitis spoke to Bay Area reporters on a conference call Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said about fellow inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
Q: I’ve heard it said about you that you’re under the radar in large part because of what the inside linebackers here are doing. What are your thoughts when you watch Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
LAURINAITIS: Great football players. I had a chance to meet Patrick when we were both up for the Butkis [Award] together my Sophomore year. He won it that year. And being in the Big 10 with NaVorro, I saw both of them play through college. Seeing what they’re doing now, it’s no surprise. They’re both very talented, very athletic. I think they both use their hands extremely well, especially Patrick. I think the way he can shock and shed blocks quickly, they can take chances and run behind blocks and use their speed to run things down. They blitz very well and they make plays. When you see guys consistently show up around the football and they’re linebackers, that’s a good thing. To have them both on the same team on the inside – you play a lot of 3-4 teams and you say, “OK, this guy’s their bell cow in the middle.” They’ve really got two guys that you’ve got to be very worried about. I’ve got a lot of respect for those two guys.