Dante Fowler Jr.’s voice began to quiver as the Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker rattled through a roller coaster of events that have spanned his four-year career.
There were some highlights, such as the eight sacks he produced when the Jacksonville Jaguars advanced to the AFC Championship Game two years ago. And there were lowlights, like the ACL injury that ended his rookie season before it began and behavior, on and off the field, that resulted in a strained relationship with the Jaguars.
But as Fowler described the uneven start to his young career, a smile slowly grew across his face when he described his new start in L.A.wholesale cheap nfl jersey china
“Really wasn’t feeling myself until I got here,” he said. “… the coaches put me in a very great position, just like letting me be me, let me be the Dante Fowler that basically got me here.”
That is why Fowler, 24, signed a one-year, prove-it deal, worth up to $12 million, with the Rams ahead of free agency in March instead of testing the market as an unrestricted free agent.
“I knew from like the first few weeks, really that first month when I was here, that this was a perfect fit for me, a perfect team for me,” he said.
Last season, in the midst of an 8-0 start and with an eye on a deep playoff run, the Rams identified the need for a pass-rusher. Ahead of the trade deadline, they sent third- and fifth-round draft picks to the Jaguars in exchange for Fowler, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft.cheap nfl jerseys wholesale china
Five days after he was acquired, the Rams inserted Fowler against the New Orleans Saints. Two weeks later, he started against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Fowler’s contributions grew steadily and peaked in the NFC Championship Game when he pressured Saints quarterback Drew Brees into an errant pass that safety John Johnson III intercepted. The play set up a game-winning field goal and sent the Rams to Super Bowl LIII.
“What he was able to do coming in in the middle of the year and being able to contribute the way that he did really says a lot about how quickly he was able to pick things up,” coach Sean McVay said.
In eight games, Fowler had two sacks and four tackles for losses. He was embraced by teammates, and by the Rams’ front office.
“He made plays for us along the way,” general manager Les Snead said. “From the beginning, we wanted Dante to be back.”
But now it’s up to Fowler, who has 16 sacks, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in three seasons, to prove he can maintain his poise off the field and develop into a star in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.