In his rookie season with the St. Louis Rams, Hamel, Minn. native James Laurinaitis led the team in combined tackles with 120 (107 solo, 13 assist). Laurinaitis started in all 16 regular season games at middle LB and ranked 2nd in the NFL in total tackles made by a rookie behind Houston’s Brian Cushing (133). In addition to 120 tackles, Laurinaitis contributed 2.0 sacks, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble.
Perhaps Laurinaitis’ most memorable INT (or play for that matter) of his young career came in Week 5 at home against the Vikings. With the Vikings facing 3rd and 9 at the 9:51 mark in the 2nd quarter, Brett Favre rolled out of the pocket and fired an ill-advised pass into triple coverage, intended for Bernard Berrian. Laurinaitis came down with the pick at the MIN 32 and weaved his way down to the 25 for the 7-yard INT return. Although the Vikings steam-rolled their way to a decisive 38-10 victory, Laurinaitis posted a solid game with 6 tackles and the INT of future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre.
High School and Collegiate Notes:
Attended Wayzata High School (Plymouth, Minn.) where he was named Minnesota’s “Defensive Mr. Football” as a senior. That year, he recorded 193 tackles, 5.0 sacks, and 28 stops behind the line of scrimmage while leading his team to the Minnesota Class 5A state championship game.
Received All-American and All-Big Ten Conference honors since his sophomore season at Ohio State University. In 2006, he was the Bronko Nagurski Award winner as the nation’s top defensive player. In his junior season, he was named the Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top LB. Laurinaitis was also voted as the Buckeye’s team captain for the 2nd consecutive season in 2008 and is only the 7th Buckeye to be elected twice.
Laurinaitis was drafted by the St. Louis Rams as the third pick in the 2nd round (35th overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft.
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With the period that permits teams to apply the franchise tag to pending free agents now open and with free agency set to begin in a few weeks, now is an appropriate time to point out what could be a useful and informative tool for vikings.com readers.
The tool is a link that can be found on the home page called “CBA FAQ.” As you can probably infer from the name of the link, clicking on said link will direct you to a page on vikings.com that provides questions and answers that pertain to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
We are currently in the final year of the CBA, which is also known as the Final League Year and/or Uncapped Year. Because of this, the environment and rules governing the teams and the contracts those teams have agreed to with their players have changed quite a bit.
And that’s where the CBA FAQ tool comes in handy. This page should provide you with the basic information that will help you understand the new environment.
In addition to that, Vikings VP of Football Administration Rob Brzezinski sat down with me again to go over several key terms that relate to the NFL free agency period and NFL player contracts. We’ll have that piece posted on vikings.com later in the week.
Lastly, if you want to learn more about the new rules in the Final League Year, we have 3 videos on vikings.com that you’ll find informative. This video features a report from NFL.com’s Steve Wyche that runs down the latest developments in the new CBA negotiations. This NFL Network video is an interview of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell by NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora. And finally, you can hear members of the NFLPA speak in Miami about the on-going CBA discussions between the owners and the players.
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Jared Allen, Brett Favre, Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and the Williams Wall are players who were constantly in the spotlight because of outstanding performances and key roles in the Vikings success during the 2009 season.
While the contributions of those players were vital to the Vikings in ‘09, so, too, were the contributions of several other players who weren’t featured in the spotlight as often. So as we continue to review the 2009 season here on vikings.com, we’re going to run a 5-part series that looks at 5 players who had excellent seasons but remained mostly out of the spotlight.
Part 1 debuts today, and you can read about the first Star Out Of The Spotlight by clicking here…
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This week’s Monday Morning Mailbag is posted on the home page.
If you have a comment or question you’d like posted in next week’s mailbag feature, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll post the mailbag each Monday during the offseason. Remember to include your name and town on all emails. We can’t post every question/comment but we’ll respond to each question.
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With not a whole lot going on around the home front at Winter Park, let’s take a look around the NFC North. We’ll go alphabetically and look at one team each day from Monday to Wednesday.
First up is the Chicago Bears…
Most of the offseason news surrounding the Bears so far has actually centered on their coaching staff. Lovie Smith remains the head coach but has relinquished his play-calling duties to new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who was the defensive line coach during the 2009 season.
Marinelli isn’t the only new coordinator for the Bears. Smith has also added Mike Martz to coordinate his offense. Martz was of course a head coach and offensive coordinator in St. Louis before moving on to coordinate offenses in Detroit and San Francisco as well.
The Bears have also added former Vikings Head Coach Mike Tice to their coaching staff. After leaving Minnesota, Tice joined Jack Del Rio’s staff in Jacksonville. Now he’ll be the Bears offensive line coach and makes a return to the NFC North.
A Look At WR
A pair of youngsters really came on for Chicago last year – 3rd-year player Devin Aromashodu and rookie Johnny Knox. With that in mind, the Bears and WR Devin Hester may explore slightly reducing Hester’s role in the offensive game plan and re-inserting him in the return game.
Going further into the speculation business, Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times floats the idea of the Bears pursuing WR Torry Holt, who was released from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday. Holt and Martz were together in St. Louis and the Bears have another coach familiar with WR – Tice.
Regardless of whether the Bears pursue Holt or not, with Martz now on board as the offensive coordinator Chicago should be considered in the mix to acquire more offensive pieces, from speedy WRs to versatile RBs.
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