James Laurinaitis says message received from Ray-Ray Armstrong's release

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams' release of linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong on Monday afternoon came as a bit of a surprise in the locker room.

After all, Armstrong had been a key component on special teams in his 20 games with the team. But Armstrong's continued penalty problems -- he picked up a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct flag against the Eagles last week -- and relative lack of production in general left coach Jeff Fisher no choice but to let him go.

Further examination of the game tape against Philadelphia also made it appear that Armstrong had at least some fault in the blocked punt that staked the Eagles to a quick 7-0 lead in that game.

Fisher called Armstrong's release a product of his "body of work" and made it clear that Armstrong wasn't some sort of scapegoat. But for many young Rams, there was still a message to be found in Armstrong's departure.

Veteran linebacker James Laurinaitis confirmed as much.

"I think what it says to the younger players, I think a lot of them were shocked by it," Laurinaitis said. "I think it was a move by the head coach where he wasn’t satisfied with whatever he was bringing to the table. The penalties definitely hurt him, but I think it brings a lot of these young guys -- there’s always cuts in camp, but usually cuts in camp people say that was a battle or that was a close one. But to have a guy who had been in a special teams role, in a big role on special teams, to see our coach be like 'I’m done with this' kind of put them on edge, like 'if I don’t straighten up my house, I can go, too.' I think that’s the message he sent."

The Rams' continued lack of discipline under Fisher has been a persistent problem that has regularly put them behind the eight ball in all phases. They have been the league's most penalized team over the past two seasons, and their 11.25 penalties (called) per game ranks 30th in the NFL so far this season.

Fisher has been particularly bothered by the infractions his team draws before and after the whistle. When discussing the Armstrong move this week, Fisher said it eventually becomes his fault because he allows players making those mistakes to continue to play without repercussions.

That isn't to say anytime someone gets a penalty that they will be released, or even benched, but when the coach finally offers some action rather than words, it's a message that isn't lost on the locker room.

"The guys got the message," Laurinaitis said. "You can’t take this game for granted. You’ve got to go out there each and every day and basically prove to them over and over that you are worth a roster spot. I learned that a long time ago. If you have a couple bad weeks of practice in a row, a couple games in a row, they’re still scouring everyone else that’s on the streets and saying 'Hey, is this guy still worth what we’re paying him? Is this guy still worth being here on a roster spot? Can we get something for him?' It’s always that way. It’s a business. You’ve got to prove yourself each and every day. I think the guys got that message. At least I hope they did."