Rams' Grant likes new spot at weakside linebacker

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Larry Grant is quickly becoming the most surprising member of the St. Louis Rams' all-Ohio State linebacking crew.

It's only been one preseason game, but Grant has already started to impress.

In a 28-7 loss to Minnesota on Saturday, the 6-foot-1, 251-pound Grant had four tackles, including one for a loss, two passes defended and a special teams tackle. That was enough for the 25-year-old player to catch coach Steve Spagnuolo's eye.

''Larry showed up in the game. He's done some versatile things,'' Spagnuolo said. ''Anytime you can do that, you help yourself as a linebacker and you help yourself as a team.''

Now in his second full season with the Rams, Grant is finding a comfort zone. Grant learned the system installed by Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole last year and has found his stride so far in this preseason.

''It's working out,'' Grant said. ''I did my best. Everything, I'm picking up a lot better. If you do what you're supposed to be doing, everything will fall into place.''

It's been a slow climb for Grant.

The San Francisco 49ers drafted him in the seventh round after he played two seasons at Ohio State. Before joining the Buckeyes, he spent two years at City College of San Francisco, where he was the national junior college player of the year. In four college seasons, Grant played in four national championship games.

He was signed to the Rams' active roster from San Francisco's practice squad on Nov. 26, 2008, and played in two games on special teams. Last year, Grant again spent time mostly on special teams, seeing action in all 16 games during a 1-15 season.

Grant has made the move during training camp from strongside to weakside linebacker. He is on the first-team defense with fellow Ohio State teammates James Laurinaitis (middle linebacker) and free-agent pickup Na'il Diggs (strongside linebacker).

''We all have the same tradition,'' Grant said of his college teammates. ''Being at Ohio State, they taught us to learn to love football a lot more.''

Grant said the move wasn't difficult, and he has found a home at weakside linebacker.

''It wasn't too big for me because I was here last year and I just didn't pay attention to my job,'' Grant said. ''I tried to learn as much as I could about the defense and the other linebacking jobs. It's been a cool transition so far.''

Grant wants to stay with the first team unit and knows it's not something to be taken for granted.

''Right now, most of my thoughts are on just trying to get better every day,'' he said. ''You've just got to go out there and go at it.''

He wants to keep playing on special teams, too.

''Every play counts in a game,'' Grant said.

Laurinaitis isn't surprised to see Grant succeed.

''Playing with him at Ohio State, I knew he had a ton of talent,'' Laurinaitis said. ''He's crazy athletic. It's just a matter of consistency with him. It was awesome for me to see him play so well against Minnesota. We'll see how he continues to do.

''I think he's excited about his opportunity and he's looking good so far.''

With training camp in its third week, Grant acknowledges you have to keep grinding to get through the workouts, meetings and film study.

That is all part of being a starter.

''On days when it's too hot and you're tired, you got to work,'' Grant said. ''You got to put all that past you and do the best you can. You've got to make yourself be the best player you can be today and every day. My expectations for myself are high.

''This year is different. I want to win, and that's what I'm here for.''

Tagged: Rams, Larry Grant, James Laurinaitis

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