NFL

Rams sign Laurinaitis to extension

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ST. LOUIS (AP)

St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, one of key pieces in new coach Jeff Fisher's rebuilding plan, has signed a five-year contract extension.

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When defensive end Chris Long got a four-year extension on the first day of training camp, the team said Laurinaitis was also a priority. The Rams announced the deal on their Twitter feed Saturday, saying the team was ''thrilled to announce'' the signing.

Laurinaitis, a second-round pick in 2009 out of Ohio State, has led the Rams in tackles all three of his seasons with double-digit totals every year. He's been durable, too, starting every game.

He has five career sacks and three interceptions.

''I've learned a lot, played a lot,'' Laurinaitis said during training camp. ''Every year I've just tried to get a little bit better, make fewer and fewer mistakes and be accountable.''

Laurinaitis is 10 pounds lighter this season, reporting for training camp at 242 pounds, to better handle pass-defending duties in Fisher's system. In his first three seasons, Laurinaitis needed a bigger body to fend of blocks from linemen.

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In the offseason, he worked with a nutritionist that provided calorie counts for foods.

''Now, a lot of it is flowing,'' Laurinaitis said during camp. ''Strength has gone up, just a lot more running and functional trainilng.''

Fisher has referred to Laurinaitis as a ''captain of the defense.''

Tagged: Rams, James Laurinaitis

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