Los Angeles Rams: Kenny Young Solidifies a Starting Role on Defense

by CJ Barber
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The inside linebacker position was undoubtedly the most questioned area of the Los Angeles Rams defense coming into the 2021 season. On a defense that has Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey on the defensive line and in the secondary, the rams linebackers lack that elite player. With so many question marks, it was arguably the most intriguing position for the Rams defense in the preseason.  

After posting a modest 52 tackles, Kenny Young put together a good season in 2020. It was the kind of performance that he could build off of coming into the 2021 season. Rams fans knew Young would be involved defensively, but exactly how much remained to be seen, until Sunday night. 

Young played 100% of defensive snaps in Sunday night’s game and was the only Rams linebacker to do so. This was against a Bears offense that was looking to run the ball and expose potential weaknesses at the linebacker position. However, for the vast majority of the game, Young showed that the questions being asked of him were likely going to be answered sooner rather than later.

The Rams traded for Kenny Young in 2019 as a part of the Marcus Peters trade. It was a return that was very controversial at the time. While Young may never be the caliber player of Peters, he fills a need, fits the Los Angeles Rams system, and is beginning to grow into a good player.

Young proved he could fly to the ball carrier all night, making tackles from sideline to sideline. An underrated play included making a potential touchdown-saving touchdown on David Montgomery’s 41-yard run early in the game. Young chased down Montgomery from behind the play and turned a touchdown into an interception just a few plays later. 

Speaking of that crucial turnover, it was Kenny Young who deflected the pass that led to David Long’s interception in the end zone. This prevented the Bears from grabbing early momentum and taking a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. 

This was an instinctive play in which he shaded his coverage towards the tight end in the middle of the field while keeping his eyes in the backfield. Young read the eyes of the quarterback and was able to make the play.

Kenny Young’s day wasn’t done there either. With 1:25 left in the opening frame, Dalton was hit by several Rams in the pocket and fumbled the ball. Young, was the first player to react to the ball and easily secured the fumble. This turnover gave the Los Angeles Rams good field position and led to a field goal. 

Young finished the game with 10 tackles, one shy of the team lead. He also showed impressive skills in coverage, allowing just one catch for four yards on the targets.  Games like these will be crucial in defining Raheem Morris’ defense this year, and in defining the impact Kenny Young has within it.

The Los Angeles Rams have taken a lot of criticism for not addressing the linebacker position early in drafts. Additionally, they’ved allowed players like Cory Littleton to walk in free agency. However, time and time again the Rams continue to show the ability to develop linebackers. Young is the latest and he could be in for a strong 2021 season.

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