Ogle­tree lands ex­ten­sion worth about $42 mil­lion

Los Angeles Times - - NFL WEEK 6 - By Gary Klein gary.klein@la­times.com Twit­ter: @la­timesklein

From the day he ar­rived at train­ing camp, Rams line­backer Alec Ogle­tree said he was con­fi­dent that an agree­ment would be reached on a con­tract ex­ten­sion.

Ogle­tree con­tin­ued to re­main pos­i­tive as de­fen­sive line­man Aaron Don­ald’s con­tract hold­out dragged on through­out camp.

On Thurs­day, Ogle­tree agreed to terms on a fouryear deal, the Rams an­nounced. Terms were not dis­closed, but a per­son with knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion said the ex­ten­sion was worth about $42 mil­lion.

Com­bined with the near $8.4 mil­lion he’ll make this sea­son, Ogle­tree will re­ceive about $50 mil­lion over five years.

Ogle­tree, 26, has a teambest 54 tack­les and two sacks. He was voted a team cap­tain for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son.

“Be­sides his ath­letic abil­ity — his lead­er­ship is through the roof,” de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Wade Phillips said a few hours be­fore Ogle­tree’s deal was an­nounced. “I’m sure he got ev­ery vote for cap­tain from ev­ery­body on the whole team.”

Ogle­tree, the 30th pick in the 2013 draft, was in the fi­nal year of a five-year con­tract.

Ogle­tree played out­side line­backer for two-plus sea­sons be­fore his 2015 sea­son was cut short be­cause of an an­kle in­jury.

The Rams re­leased vet­eran mid­dle line­backer James Lau­ri­naitis be­fore last sea­son and moved Ogle­tree to the mid­dle in their 4-3 scheme, clearly iden­ti­fy­ing him as a young leader for the fu­ture. Ogle­tree is an in­side line­backer in Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.

Ogle­tree’s ex­ten­sion is the lat­est in a se­ries of deals for core de­fen­sive play­ers.

Last sea­son, the Rams signed de­fen­sive tackle Michael Brock­ers to an ex­ten­sion.

With Ogle­tree’s deal in place, the Rams are ex­pected to fo­cus on safety La­mar­cus Joyner as Don­ald’s sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ues to play out.

Don­ald is in the fourth year of his rookie con­tract. He sat out off­sea­son work­outs and train­ing camp be­cause he wants a new deal that will make him the NFL’s high­est-paid de­fen­sive player.

Ogle­tree and Don­ald are rep­re­sented by CAA Sports.

Happy re­turns

Pharoh Cooper is look­ing for­ward to ex­pand­ing his role against the Jack­sonville Jaguars on Sun­day, when he will re­turn kick­offs and punts.

Cooper, the start­ing kick­off re­turner, has sup­planted Tavon Austin on punts be­cause of Austin’s strug­gles han­dling kicks.

Cooper, a sec­ond-year re­ceiver, re­turned punts at South Carolina.

He re­turned five for the Rams last sea­son.

“I’m com­fort­able back there,” he said. “It’s just an­other way to get the ball in my hands. I’m ex­cited and ready for it.”

On kick­offs, Cooper can get a run­ning start if he de­cides to re­turn a ball fielded in the end zone.

It is a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge re­turn­ing punts.

“The way the ball comes in is a lot dif­fer­ent,” he said. “It’s also a dif­fer­ent men­tal­ity back there with two guys com­ing at you full speed be­fore you can re­ally get the ball and go.

“So your main thing is catch the ball first.”

Back in the swing

Re­ceiver Mike Thomas is ex­pected to play for the first time this sea­son on Sun­day.

Thomas was sus­pended for the first four games for vi­o­lat­ing the NFL’s pol­icy on per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing sub­stances.

He re­turned to prac­tice last week but was on the ex­empt list and did not play against the Seat­tle Seahawks.

Thomas was added to the ros­ter this week when the Rams waived safety Mau­rice Alexan­der.

“It’s been good get­ting back in the full ef­fect with things,” Thomas said Thurs­day. “I’m catch­ing up fast.”

Thomas was a spe­cial teams stand­out in 2016 and is ex­pected to get most of his play­ing time with that unit.

“I’m just look­ing for­ward to play­ing my role and do­ing what I did last year — mak­ing plays,” he said.

Etc.

Line­backer Mark Bar­ron (knee) and cor­ner­back Troy Hill (shoul­der) did not prac­tice. Joyner (ham­string) was lim­ited …. The Rams signed line­backer Gar­rett Sick­els to the prac­tice squad. Sick­les played at Penn State . ... The Rams will prac­tice Fri­day morn­ing be­fore de­part­ing for Jack­sonville in the af­ter­noon. It is the start of an 11-day trip that will in­clude an Oct. 22 game against the Ari­zona Car­di­nals at Twick­en­ham Sta­dium in Lon­don.

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