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Entering third year, Rams DB Quentin Lake ready to break out as versatile and 'vocal' leader in secondary

Quentin Lake's third NFL season carries the potential to be his best.

At least, that's how the folks who paid close attention to the Rams in 2023 see it. Pro Football Focus listed Lake as a potential breakout candidate entering the 2024 season, thanks in part to his usage at a number of different defensive positions and his eventual emergence as a solid nickel corner. The Rams' coaching staff seems to agree.

"Obviously I've had my fair share of snaps at safety, at nickel, at a bunch of different positions. But Chris Shula, our defensive coordinator, and (head coach) Sean McVay, who I think is one of, if not the best coach in the NFL, really leaned on me this offseason to kind of lead that room," Lake explained during Friday's appearance on NFL Network's The Insiders. "And that's something that I want to do, I want to have that leadership role, have that vocal leadership in the backend to help our team win games.

"But those are two amazing coaches that have really helped me elevate my game. And I'm just excited to obviously work with them and share the experience and the journey that they envision and that I envision for myself."

If Lake proves to be a reliable starting nickel corner -- considering he only started four games last season, that's not yet certain -- he would earn the clout needed from a leader, especially for a defense littered with promising youngsters. If anything, he might emerge as the voice of his similarly aged cohorts.

That's going to be needed before long. Aaron Donald retired in the offseason and isn't coming back, leaving a void that stretches beyond his Hall of Fame production.

"Yeah, sometimes you talk about 'Are you going to replace him,' and as we know, you can't replace him, you can't replace Aaron Donald," Lake said. "Aaron Donald is the greatest defensive player that we have seen, and Sean McVay talked about it, he said he was full, and (general manager) Les Snead did a great job of finding guys to fit our scheme, our new defensive scheme, but Aaron Donald did a great job of making sure that the guys behind him and the guys that were with him were ready. Guys like Kobie Turner, guys like Bobby Brown, Byron Young, the young players, the young up and coming talented players are ready.

"And like I said, Les Snead and his staff did a great job of bringing in new players to upgrade and uplift our scheme, guys like Jared Verse, our first-round pick, and Braden Fiske, our second-round pick. These are guys that love the game, fit our culture, and I'm excited to see what they're going to do."

McVay recently said he feels as if it’s Year 1 for him all over again, thanks to the Rams' infusion of productive youth. He senses their hunger for more, which has probably been a nice change from Los Angeles' previous annual star-laden push for a title.

Count Lake among those looking to eat.

"Oh I see it every day, especially during OTAs and practice. Obviously he's a young coach, so he stays active and stuff like that, but from the defensive field we see him running with the receivers during practice," Lake said. "If it's pat-and-go, he's running a go-route himself. And he even throws the DBs passes when we're doing our individual drills. So having a coach like that, having a coach that's so invested and passionate and wants to be a part of it, as players we feed off that, that's something that players want to see in their coach, is them being active.

"And even more so when we're in the film room, he's a guy that's still learning the game too, about how he can attack defenses, what we as a defense can do better in terms of our adjustments, so having a coach that's not only the leader of the program, but also a student of the game himself, is something that we feed off as players."

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