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There are many superstars on the Rams that have become household names over the past few seasons.  Players such as Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, and Jared Goff are the guys that first come to mind when the Rams are brought up.  Outside of them, the Rams also have big name players such as Ndamukong Suh, Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters, and Aqib Talib who were all acquired in the offseason.  Even wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are getting to the point where all NFL fans know who they are.  However, with a team full of stars there will always be players who are overshadowed despite their effectiveness.  The player on the Rams that fits this description perfectly is linebacker Cory Littleton.

Cory Littleton is an undrafted linebacker from the University of Washington who is currently in his third season with the Rams.  Littleton, who played mainly on special teams his first two seasons, took on a much larger role this year.  After the departure of Alec Ogletree the Rams were left without a starting linebacker coming into this season and Littleton was the guy to take his place.

Since becoming the starting middle linebacker, Cory Littleton has made an instant impact.  Through 11 games this year he leads all Rams defenders in tackles with 91, solo tackles with 66, and passes deflected with 9.  Littleton also has an interception, 3 sacks, and a blocked punt.  He’s been all over the field and has more often than not been the Rams defensive player making an open field tackle.  Littleton is a versatile linebacker who can be effective rushing the quarterback as well as staying back in coverage.  Outside of Aaron Donald, Littleton has been the best defensive player on the Rams.

Cory Littleton’s success this season can be credited to his defensive positioning and ability to make big plays when they matter most.  In the Rams most recent game against the Chiefs, Littleton had 8 tackles but his most impressive play came when he forced Kareem Hunt to run outside into Lamarcus Joyner.  The Rams had a lead of 16-7 at this point in the game and it was 3rd and goal for the Chiefs at the one-yard line.  The Chiefs ran an option run where Patrick Mahomes would scramble out of the pocket and based on what the defense did, would choose to run it in or pitch it to Kareem Hunt.  As soon as Mahomes started to scramble outside, Littleton charged at him making Mahomes think he was coming for the tackle.  Unlike most defenders who would go for the big hit, Littleton played it smart and quickly backed off because he knew Mahomes was going to pitch it.  Littleton then didn’t sprint directly at Hunt but ran towards Hunt at an angle that forced him to run further outside and eventually out of bounds.  The play by Littleton went unnoticed by most but his ability to keep both Mahomes and Hunt out of the end zone and force the Chiefs to kick a field goal was a huge difference in the game.

All year long Cory Littleton has been making smart plays for the Rams defense.  His ability to be effective stopping the passing and the running game has been crucial to the success of the Rams this season.  Even though Aaron Donald is the one getting all the attention for the big time plays he makes, Cory Littleton is having himself a great year and has made many game changing plays of his own.


Featured Image: Cameron DaSilva/RamsWireUSAToday

 

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