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Thursday, October 17, 2013
Rams dealing with where to tackle Newton

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --  St. Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis is dealing with the same dilemma a lot of defenders do when they face Cam Newton.

Newton
Newton
Where to tackle the Carolina Panthers' 6-foot-5, 250-pound quarterback?

“It’s like hitting a tight end,'' Laurinaitis said as he looked ahead to Sunday's 1 p.m. game in Charlotte. "I haven’t really had a chance to play a quarterback of his size yet, so it will be definitely a new experience for me. His body type is like an athletic tight end. Speed wise and stuff like that, it’s going to be different.

"A lot of time with big guys, you need to tackle them high because they’re tall. But heck, if you go up high and then he’s going to give you that stiff arm, so you got to work on trying to slap it down and fire at his legs and stuff like that.''

The good news for Laurinaitis is that Newton is running only 5.8 times per game, compared to 7.9 a year ago. He's also sliding a lot more to protect his body.

The bad news is the Rams are 30th against the run, so Newton may have more opportunities to run.

"You can’t really extra load up the box when you deal with quarterback runs,'' said Laurinaitis, second on the team in tackles. "That’s why they’re so lethal, especially with a big guy like Cam. I still think it’s the unscripted plays that are the hardest to defend.

"You don't want to be unprepared for someone that dynamic with the run game.''