The Rams added defensive end Dante Fowler via trade on Tuesday. Against the Saints on Sunday, they expect him to hit the ground rushing.
“We feel like he’s going to help us, specifically from a rush perspective,” coach Sean McVay told reporters on Wednesday. “Got him in here and we’ll see how quickly he can get up to speed, if he’s going to be able to contribute and help us this weekend. But we’re excited to get Dante here.”
The biggest challenge, obviously, will be getting him quickly comfortable in the Rams’ defense.
“He passed his physical and he’s going to — really, today is more of a mental, kind of that above-the-neck approach on a Wednesday for us,” McVay said. “So, he’ll get exposed to a lot of reps. If he’s taking part in it or if he’s standing right there with [defensive line coach] Billy Johnson listening to some of the calls, the communication. But we anticipate him being able to be involved and kind of, really, we’ll see how he’s able to adjust, how he’s able to absorb that information. But we wanted to get him in here and hopeful that he’s a contributor for us as soon as this weekend against a tough team.”
McVay doesn’t personally know much about Fowler, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, so the Rams worked hard to find out as much as they could about him.
“There’s always a very thorough vetting process that takes place any time that we bring somebody into the building, whether we’re looking to acquire them or actually acquiring them,” McVay said. “There’s a lot of character references. A lot of coaches around the league that guys that have been in Jacksonville, that have been with him before that we’ve worked with, that spoke in a positive way about Dante. We feel like it was something that we wanted to be able to get him here. Heard nothing but good things as far as just a great kid, works hard, practices the right way, has great habits. Looking forward to getting to know him a little bit. I don’t really know him — obviously know about him and you’ve seen some of the things that he’s done from a production standpoint. But we feel like with just the amount of resources that we were able to utilize and talk to as far as just the people that could speak on his behalf — people that we really value and take their opinion very seriously — it was good things and it was something we felt like we wanted to do.”
Whether the Rams want to keep Fowler around will depend on how he performs in the second half of the season. He’s due to become a free agent in March, and it’s entirely possible that the Rams ultimately will have given up a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick for a short-term rental. Especially if/when Fowler performs in the postseason like he performed in the AFC title game last year, picking up a pair of sacks against the Patriots. The more he does as the games get bigger, the more someone else may decide to offer him a premium on the open market.