If former Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis played a different sport, or a different position, he’d have probably needed Tommy John surgery.
But now with the Saints, the veteran linebacker says he’s ready to go in 2016, with what he hopes is a Super Bowl contender.
“Look, I have a lot left in the tank and can go out there and play great football,” Laurinaitis said, via Joel Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate. “Can’t really prove it until the fall when the games start and they matter.”
Laurinaitis said he suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament last year, but played through the injury with a brace. He couldn’t lift weights or extend his arm fully, but stayed on the field for the Rams. That’s the kind of injury that can derail the careers of pitchers, but Laurinaitis has rarely missed a snap in his career, starting all 112 games.
He thought he was going to continue with the Rams to Los Angeles, but was cut before they left, sending him on a free agent tour that included the Falcons.
“Only a couple had a quarterback, an offense and a roster that I felt could be in the playoffs,” Laurinaitis said of his suitors, saying the Saints were the first to call.
The 29-year-old linebacker has been a consistent producer in his seven seasons, and is second in the league in tackles during that span. With the Saints, they’re hoping his presence in the middle will benefit second-year linebacker Stephone Anthony, who was one of the few reasons for optimism on that defense last year.