Originally published by RamsNewswire.com
One of the few bright spots for the Los Angeles Rams last season was the emergence of Michael Hoecht. Originally a defensive tackle, Hoecht began learning the outside linebacker role in case of emergency for the Rams and that emergency time came as the Rams were ravaged by injury.
But Hoecht thrived in his new role, enjoying a breakout season that saw him total 36 tackles including four for loss, 4.5 sacks, 24 quarterback pressures and nine quarterback hits. The pressures ranked third on the Rams behind Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd while the quarterback hits ranked fourth behind Donald, Floyd and Bobby Wagner.
Now after some success, Hoecht is focusing the majority of his offseason training on the outside linebacker position, via Stu Jackson of TheRams.com:
“Right now it’s outside linebacker training, get a full offseason with those guys in that room,” Hoecht said. “I’m sure we’ll make sure that I know the inside – you know how football seasons go, you never know where you’re needed. So stay ready for both, but right now, outside linebacker.”
With the Rams releasing Floyd earlier this offseason, there is a hole to fill and a big opportunity for Hoecht to solidify himself as an important piece of this Rams defense. But he understands there is still a lot to learn with his new position:
“It’s just getting more comfortable in space, understanding the position, understanding the big picture of the defense,” Hoecht said, when asked what he saw when he looked back over his own film from his brief time at outside linebacker last season. “When you install things in a short period of time, it was, ‘what is exactly my assignment, and how do I do it well?’ What is going to help me going forward is understanding the bigger picture of the defense, understanding what we’re trying to get done, and then that will help me know where my advantages are, know what reps are hard to cover, know when to counter quarterback depth, stuff like that.”
Attacking from the edge as opposed to the interior requires a different skillset. Hoecht clearly has the desire to be great and will put in all of the necessary work to be as good as he can be coming off the edge. The Rams will need contributions all across the board to turn things around after last season and Hoecht is a prime candidate to be a defensive standout.
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