It’s a season of change for the St. Louis Rams, and hopefully of growth after doing better than usual last year. However, the extreme lack of experience across the board when it comes to their linebackers has them looking at Takeo Spikes, who hasn’t been mentioned much this offseason when it comes to extending his NFL career.
Spikes, 36, was released by the San Diego Chargers after two seasons of starting all 32 games for the team. He’s been a starter throughout his entire career at various Inside linebacker roles, playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and most recently the Chargers, also making the Pro Bowl in 2003 and 2004 when he was a member of the Bills.
So why are the Rams considering Spikes if they already have their three starters (Jo-Lonn Dunbar, James Laurinaitis and first-round draft pick Alec Ogletree)? Well, the combined number of games started by linebackers on the Rams roster is 108. Laurinaitis has 64, Dunbar has 43, and Josh Hull has one. The Rams have the youngest roster in the NFL, and Dunbar is the older linebacker on the team at 28.
So while youth and rejuvenation is the way to go in St. Louis, having experienced players filling certain roles never hurt anyone. Spikes has 215 career starts, nearly double the number for all of the Ram’s linebackers. Surely he can be of some assistance to a team that needs some leadership besides youth, speed and talent, right?
Spikes did play on about two thirds of the Chargers’ defensive snaps last season, which means he’s probably a little more durable than your average 36 year-old, 16 year NFL veteran usually are. He has never been one to easily get to quarterbacks – Spikes is much better at stopping the run and has quick hands for both deflecting passes and ripping balls out of running backs hands. He’ll probably sit behind Dunbar, Laurinaitis and Ogletree in the depth chart, but it still means plenty of time on the field, for someone who might give the Rams defense the leadership and experience push they might need next season.