LOS ANGELES (AP) Ndamukong Suh had his pick of teams when the Miami Dolphins released him last month. The dominating defensive lineman chose the Los Angeles Rams, who have suddenly become a desirable destination.
Whether it’s the proximity to great weather, smart coaches or Super Bowl contention, NFL stars have been eager to land in LA during the Rams’ intriguing offseason. The 300-pound Suh is the biggest one yet, in every way.
”I think everybody looks at everything on paper, and I would say we’re in pretty good shape on paper,” Suh said Friday.
”But we have a lot of things to prove, and really myself. I always play with a chip on my shoulder, and my focus is to come in here and put in a lot of work and prove my worth. … There were a lot of other great teams that I had offers from, but I think this was the best fit for me.”
Rams coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead formally introduced Suh, who agreed to a one-year, $14 million deal to team up with AP Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald on a potentially ferocious defensive line in Los Angeles.
The 31-year-old Suh said Donald was ”definitely a plus” in his decision, since it’s almost certain to prevent opponents from constantly double-teaming either star. But Suh was equally excited by the presence of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, whose ability to put talent in positions to succeed has been a major attraction since his arrival last year.
”Being able to be fortunate enough to watch film with the coaches on my visit was important for me,” Suh said. ”Each place I took a visit to, I (would) watch film and talk to the coaches and see how they see me fitting in.”
Suh will be the Rams’ nose tackle in their base 3-4 defense, and he sounded excited about trying a new primary position. Phillips will move around Suh, Donald and Michael Brockers to create trouble for offensive lines, and Suh was attracted to the challenge of forming new skills in his ninth NFL season.
”Over the last five years or so, between Miami and Detroit, to get me out of double teams and kind of being in the trash, I’ve played every single position, every single technique that’s really possible,” Suh said.
The entire NFL watched last season when McVay and Phillips transformed a team that hadn’t had a winning season since 2003 into an 11-5 champion of the NFC West. The Rams’ offense went from 32nd to first in the NFL in points, while the defense became exciting and effective despite lacking ideal personnel for some of Phillips’ schemes.
The Rams have addressed those personnel issues aggressively with the additions of Suh and elite cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. While Suh’s contract is a financial splash, McVay and Snead felt the expense was worth it for a player of Suh’s extraordinary ability.
The Rams released cornerback Kayvon Webster to make room for Suh’s contract under the salary cap. Although Los Angeles is interested in re-signing Webster, who started 11 games last season, he might not be ready for the new season after undergoing surgery on his torn Achilles tendon.
Donald still hasn’t been given a long-term contract by the Rams, but Suh is eager to begin the process of building teamwork during their offseason workout program. Suh has never reached a Super Bowl, but he joined the Rams knowing they intend to contend immediately.
”They had a very successful year last year in the regular season,” Suh said. ”And I believe I can be of help to get them over some of the humps.”
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