James Laurinaitis closing in on Rams' tackles record

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis is 15 tackles away from owning a piece of franchise history.

Sitting at 901 career tackles entering this Sunday's season opener against Seattle, Laurinaitis needs 14 stops to tie Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen and 15 to pass him. Laurinaitis already sits ahead of such Rams luminaries as Deacon Jones and Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds.

Laurinaitis doesn't much care for the chance to tout his own accomplishments, but defensive coordinator Gregg Williams doesn't mind taking up for his middle linebacker. Asked Friday why he thinks Laurinaitis doesn't get more credit, Williams offered a rebuttal for those that criticize Laurinaitis.

"Most of them that probably don't think that [Laurinaitis is a good player] were the same guys that probably thought they should have been all-conference in high school that didn't get a chance to play after," Williams said. "I laugh and I smile about that. The all-time leading tackler? That says something. Here in St. Louis you guys also had a guy that was undrafted that everybody didn't like, remember the comments about London Fletcher? He just played 17 years without missing a game and he tackled pretty well, too."

Williams went on to describe how important Laurinaitis is to all that the Rams do defensively.

"James Laurinaitis is the epitome of a tackler," Williams said. "I can't think of a better person than him to be the all-time leading tackler here. I didn't know he was that close. I'm going to wonder why he doesn't have all those tackles in the first quarter this week."

Laurinaitis was second on the team in tackles in 2014 and has reached 100 tackles in each of his six seasons in the NFL.