Gregg Williams thinks he’s created a monster.
The Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator has seen linebacker Alec Ogletree open up over his first three years in the NFL.
“He probably wouldn’t say hardly anything the first year when I got here,” Williams said. “Somewhat created a monster in all of our joke telling and all of the things that I do, getting on guys and getting them to spar back and forth. … He’s one of the funnier guys you’ll ever be around.”
Williams will now depend on that quick wit as an extension of himself in the middle of his defense.
“He has to be an extension of the playcaller with the way we call the defense,” Williams said. “We have a defensive system to where we check or audible as much as the offense does. So you’ve got to be really quick with that.”
While the Rams have moved to Southern California, they’ve also moved on from incumbent middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. Ogletree is spending the offseason grabbing that “Mike” role.
“It’s going pretty good,” Ogletree said. “I’m feeling a lot more comfortable from Day 1 to today. It’s just about getting better. I think with everybody being here for a while … is definitely helping me fit into the position really well.”
A first-round draft choice out of Georgia in 2013, Ogletree started all 16 games for the Rams in 2013 and 2014 as a weakside linebacker.
When Ogeltree was lost for the season in the Week 4 win at Arizona last season, safety Mark Barron moved into that role. The success of that adjustment eventually created a domino effect, freeing Ogletree to replace Laurinaitis.
Williams has been pleased with how well Ogletree’s transition has gone through OTAs.
“He’s done a fantastic job getting us lined up, getting us checked,” Williams said. “Our players have really done a good job of reinforcing his calls. So he’s way ahead of where I thought he would be at this time.”
Ogletree said the transition requires four to six hours of film study per day.
“A lot of film work and getting with coach and understanding what he wants us to do,” Ogletree said. “It helps out of a lot with guys being here for so long. You’re not teaching somebody brand new to the system. It’s much easier on me transitioning to the Mike.”
With veterans like Laurinaitis and Chris Long having moved on from the unit in the offseason, Ogletree knows the position switch will also bring with it a new leadership component.
“It pretty much comes with the position,” Ogletree said. “You’re the center. You’ve got to give out the calls. They expect me to be a vocal leader and step up in the time of need.”
Even in a unique offseason, Ogletree has been more than willing to move over and fill a key role for Williams.
“It’s amazing,” Ogletree said. “To play for a guy like that is something special because all he cares about winning. He just wants the best out of you.
“You’re going to be able to fly around and make plays.”