Alec Ogletree cannot help being excited about the offseason addition of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his style.
“It’s a lot of the same stuff we did last year, but it’s just a lot more aggressive,’’ the second-year outside linebacker said earlier this week at Rams Park in Earth City. “You can already see the difference, even though it’s only OTAs. Guys are flying around and having fun. We just seem to be a lot more comfortable with each other and I definitely think coach Williams is going to make a big difference.
“A lot of guys respect him and want to play for a guy like that. He’s going to shoot you straight. You want to go out and give it your all for him because you know he’s giving his all, too.’’
Ogletree, selected by the Rams with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2013 draft, is the physical, quick and and athletic player who would seem to be an ideal fit for Williams’ attack-style defense. But the 22-year-old insists that he’s not the only such player on this roster.
“This is something we’re all looking forward to,’’ he said. “We’ve got a lot of athleticism and speed on our team and with (Williams) being so aggressive and with our depth allowing us to keep bringing fresh players into the game, I think we’re going to be able to put a lot of pressure on the other team’s quarterback.’’
Ogletree, who starred at the University of Georgia, was named to several All-Rookie teams a year ago but was not the Rams’ rookie of the year. That honor went to running back Zac Stacy, who led the team in rushing (973 yards) and touchdowns (eight).
But the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Ogletree did lead the Rams in tackles (155), ending a string of four consecutive seasons of that honor going to middle linebacker and team leader James Laurinaitis. In addition, Ogletree finished among the league leaders with six forced fumbles top go along with 1½ sacks, seven passes defended, five quarterback pressures and three quarterback hits. He also showed some big-play ability, returning his only interception 98 yards for a touchdown in the Rams’ 38-13 rout of the Texans in Houston.
“Each week he does something that surprises you,’’ Rams coach Jeff Fisher said late last season. “You just say, ‘Wow’ on a positive side. He’s tackled very well, got off blocks. ... He’s making a lot of plays for us.’’
A starter from day one with the Rams, Ogletree struggled at times early last season with shedding blocks and finding his way in coverage. But he improved dramatically across the board as the season progressed and now feels ready to take another step forward as he prepares for his second training camp.
“It’s like night and day,’’ he said. “When I first started last year, I was kind of nervous, trying to learn the position and to learn what I needed to do on the play. This year, I feel a lot more comfortable. I just feel like I’m able to go out there and just play and have fun.’’
Ogletee, who posted a career-best 15 tackles in a 42-21 blowout win over the Chicago Bears in Week 12 last year, recorded double-digit tackles in 10 games, including the last six.
The Rams wrapped up OTA workouts this week — veterans will report for training camp July 24 — and Ogletree finished strong by picking off a pair of passes during Tuesday’s session. On the first, he stepped in front of a Sam Bradford seam pass intended for tight end Lance Kendricks. Later, in an 11-on-11 drill, he made an early read and jumped the route to pick off a short pass in the flat.
“Actually, those were my first two picks during OTAs,’’ he said. “It was fun.’’
Ogletree, who started his college career as a safety, feels good about the progress he made in his first pro season, but he is definitely looking for more success, individually and for the team, in 2014.
“I think I had a pretty good rookie year,’’ he said. “Just looking to get better this year. I had a lot of growth last year, with being able to be out there early and to get a lot of experience under my belt.
“This year, I’m just trying to be more consistent in my preparation and out there on the field, getting lined up correctly and just communicating ... trying to make sure we’re all on the same page.’’