Jo-Lonn Dunbar Release Prior to Season Killing St. Louis Rams Defensively
Back when the St. Louis Rams added relative unknown linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar for depth purposes in the 2012 offseason, most believed he would fill the role of a body in the rotation and nothing more. What materialized, however, was a player who took on a starting role and excelled under head coach Jeff Fisher on defense. That’s why his untimely suspension early in the preseason this year for the first four regular season games and then his ultimate release by the team has really been a detriment on defense.
Even though the Rams added a rookie first rounder at the same position in Alec Ogletree, he and James Laurinaitis still need some help in the linebacking corps to make things work. This has become painfully apparent with the team’s 1-3 start mainly attributable to some serious struggles on defense. Now it seems the team may be interested in bringing the veteran back to the squad with his four-game suspension having run its course after this weekend, but there will be some serious competition for his services.
According to league sources, several teams are reporting interest in the free agent linebacker now that he is available to play, and the Rams really don’t have much to offer aside from familiarity at this point. There may be some bitterness for how St. Louis sent him packing following his suspension after coach Fisher called his actions “selfish” and expressed his disappointment in the veteran.
Adding to the Rams’ pain defensively is the injury to another veteran the team signed in the offseason in Will Witherspoon. He left the Thursday night contest with the San Francisco 49ers due to a hamstring issue and is being called day-to-day by the team. The last thing this team is less depth at a position that is already severely hurting for bodies.
So now it seems the watch is on for the departed veteran who will likely find a new NFL home sooner rather than later since he will soon be deemed eligible to play by the league. His absence has had an obviously negative impact on the remaining defensive cast as many called him the emotional leader of the defense last season. Given the squad’s relative youth and inexperience across the board, a player with Dunbar’s attributes would seem to be the perfect fit. The first four games of 2013 have certainly shown that letting him go was a bad idea, regardless of the suspension implications.
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