Bobby Wagner on acclimating with Rams: 'In order to lead, you've got to learn how they do things'

Veteran All-Pros aren't often seen around team facilities in the early stages of offseason workouts, but Bobby Wagner knows there's no second chance to make a first impression.

With a new defensive system to learn and new teammates to get acclimated to, there's plenty of work ahead for the newly signed Rams linebacker. Wagner sees his immediate presence as a necessity in order to become a leader on the field for his new team.

"I'm pretty intentional," Wagner told reporters Thursday, via the Los Angeles Daily News. "I'm definitely coming in here and being myself. I also understand that they have a way of going about things. In order to lead, you've got to learn how they do things before you jump in.

"That's been my thing, just trying to learn how everything operates. Then I'll start to use some of my experience to kind of pass to guys. Once you build that trust off the field, on the field becomes easy."

Wagner signed a five-year, $50 million contract to play in his hometown of Los Angeles after 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. Known for his sure tackling and reliability on the field, Wagner, 31, comes off a year in which he finished third in the league in tackles (170) to claim his eighth straight Pro Bowl nod.

With Aaron Donald leading the defensive line and Jalen Ramsey manning the secondary, the Rams LB corps instantly matched the pedigree with the signing of Wagner. His former rivals are already remarking on how his mere presence is having a positive impact.

"We kind of know the football player he is, (and) I know we're going to get to know that a lot more," said Rams safety Jordan Fuller, who is rehabbing from a season-ending ankle injury. "As a person, as a leader, he's great. For me individually, coming back from my injury, he was giving me some much-needed motivation.

"You can't say enough about him, even in the short time I've gotten to know him."

Wagner also has newfound inspiration from Rams head coach Sean McVay.

"I think what Sean (McVay) brings is energy. He's almost your age. But he's really, really smart," Wagner said. "He has a lot of experience. He understands the players, understands the coaches, and works all that in. ... (It) makes you elevate your game, to see somebody who puts in the work like that."

Learning a new defensive system for the first time in about a decade is another key to Wagner's presence in mid-May. According to Wagner, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris came from the same system he did when landing in Los Angeles ahead of last season. That detail is making the transition easier for Wagner, who is expected to have Morris in his ear calling plays come September.

"We're able to talk about certain terminologies, he's able to break down the defense in a way that I can understand, because we're basically speaking the same language," Wagner said, via the team's website. "He just obviously has a couple of years before me."

The Rams are scheduled to begin organized team activities on May 23 and mandatory minicamp begins on June 7. Wagner is ensuring he's up to speed as the Rams begin their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champs.

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