Rams linebacker Ogletree benefits from strong offseason

Alec Ogletree took his offseason conditioning to a new level. 

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ST. LOUIS — Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree still isn’t satisfied.

Ogletree recorded 18 tackles in the Rams’ loss to the Redskins last Sunday. It is the most in a single game for the Rams since London Fletcher had 21 tackles in 2001.

"Probably missed a couple of tackles, so I probably could have at least tied it," Ogletree said.

That kind of honest self-assessment is why the Rams are expecting big things out of Ogletree in his third season.

Ogletree, who turned 24 on Friday, took his offseason conditioning to a new level. Fellow linebacker James Laurinaitis said Ogletree’s teammates have noticed his commitment.

"Year two, he had a lot of cheeseburgers in the offseason," Laurinaitis said. "You’ve got a lot of time and there’s a lot of food you can eat, and my man was a little heavy. He was really determined to come back. He’s a smart instinctual player."

Not that Ogletree’s performance suffered his first two seasons. He led the Rams in tackles his first two seasons and with 29 tackles through two games, is on pace to lead the team again.

"He was just all over the field," coach Jeff Fisher said. "He’s playing really good ball right now."

Ogletree’s performance against the Redskins crept up on Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

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"He makes so many plays, I was shocked when I saw the stats after the ball game, I had no idea he had that many tackles," Williams said. "You get used to him doing that."

For Ogletree, the biggest adjustment has been mentally.

"I got my body right and tried to learn more of the mental game," Ogletree said. "It’s definitely paying off. I’m able to trigger faster. This year, I definitely wanted to start fast. I stayed around here most of this past offseason, did what I had to do to better my game."

Ogletree and the Rams will be tested when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Steelers are averaging 32 points a game.

Pittsburgh figures to be even more dangerous this week with running back Le’Veon Bell returning from suspension. Laurinaitis called Bell one of the most complete backs he’s ever seen.

"When this guy motions out of backfield to a no-back set, he can run the whole route tree," Laurinaitis said.

The Rams defense struggled in last week’s loss to the Redskins. St. Louis was gashed for 182 yards rushing, including 123 by Redskins rookie Matt Jones.

Ogletree said the defense is eager to atone.

"The attitude this team has is to put the last game behind us and keep moving forward," Ogletree said.

"Every time you play bad of course you want to come back and play 10 times better."

Williams expects better things from his defense and bigger things from Ogletree in particular.

"He, behind the football running and hitting, is as good as any linebacker in this league and is as good as any linebacker I’ve ever had a chance to coach," Williams said. "I think the sky’s the limit for him."