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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