Rams’ Bobby Wagner takes no shortcuts to leadership – Orange County Register

For Bobby Wagner, getting to work with Rams players and coaches after a decade with the Seattle Seahawks has been a joy so far.

Going to work has been a less pleasant part of readjusting to life in the Los Angeles area.

“The biggest thing is getting used to the traffic again,” said Wagner, who starred at Colony High in Ontario. “My commute (in Seattle) was two to three minutes, 10 tops. Out here, I’m probably traveling like 45 minutes on a good day.

“I put the destination into the Apple, and it says 10 miles but two hours. I don’t get that. ”

So, pardon the Rams’ new inside linebacker if he’ll take some time to establish his veteran presence in the locker room during offseason workouts.

Signed to a five-year, $ 50 million contract in March after the Seahawks cut him for salary-cap savings, Wagner, 31, knows that part of his value to the Rams is the experience he brings as a Super Bowl winner and six-time All-Pro.

He has already impressed one new teammate with encouraging words about recovering from an injury.

“We kind of know the football player he is, (and) I know we’re going to get to know that a lot more,” said Jordan Fuller, the third-year Rams safety who is rehabbing after season-ending ankle surgery. “As a person, as a leader, he’s great. For me individually, coming back from my injury, he was giving me some much-needed motivation.

“You can’t say enough about him, even in the short time I’ve gotten to know him.”

But getting to know teammates is a deliberate process for Wagner as he comes to a new franchise from one of its NFC West rivals.

“I’m pretty intentional,” Wagner said from the Rams’ training facility in Thousand Oaks in a Zoom chat with LA reporters. “I’m definitely coming in here and being myself. I also understand that they have a way of going about things. In order to lead, you’ve got to learn how they do things before you jump in.

“That’s been my thing, just trying to learn how everything operates. Then I’ll start to use some of my experience to kind of pass to guys.

“Once you build that trust off the field, on the field becomes easy.”

Wagner, who played basketball at Colony before joining the football team as a junior, has connected with Rams players in conversations about his old sport.

“I think everybody bonds over basketball, whether you have a good (favorite) team or you think you’re a good basketball player,” Wagner said. “We’re going to see who’s the best on the team at some point.”

Music is another connection.

“I’m from California, so Kendrick (Lamar) is naturally my favorite,” Wagner said. “We have guys that think otherwise, so we have very strong opinions about who’s running the game right now.”

It’s not too soon to form first impressions.

Wagner on Rams coach Sean McVay: “I think what Sean brings is energy. He’s almost your age (McVay is 36). But he’s really, really smart. He has a lot of experience. He understands the players, understands the coaches, and works all that in. It (It) makes you elevate your game, to see somebody who puts in the work like that. ”

Wagner on defensive coordinator Raheem Morris: “He’s a fun guy to be around. The meetings are fun every single day. He makes everybody laugh. ”

Wagner on second-year inside linebacker Ernest Jones, whom he’ll play alongside: “It’s funny because I’m the older guy now. I think he’s born in ’98 or ’99 – which is very close to 2000. I let him know about that constantly. I try to put him on the music that I listen to, and he puts me on the stuff that he listens to. He has all the attributes of a great linebacker, and if I can do anything to help, I will. ”

The Rams begin organized team activities Monday. Mandatory minicamp starts June 7. As more players join the workouts, Wagner gets to know his teammates.

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