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Sean McVay Weighs in on the Potential Role of LB Ernest Jones Following Kenny Young Trade

What kind of role will rookie linebacker Ernest Jones see in the weeks ahead?

On Monday, the Los Angeles Rams traded linebacker Kenny Young and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick, raising the question: Who would fill in at inside linebacker spot moving forward?

Hours after the Rams officially announced the trade, coach Sean McVay met with reporters via Zoom and said that it was a tough decision to move on from Young, but stated that linebacker Ernest Jones will need to step up to fill the void.

“I think you will see increased opportunities for both Troy and Ernest," McVay said. "How many? I can’t speak to that quite yet just based on where we are in the game planning part of it. But anytime that you end up losing your guy that was playing the most snaps from that inside linebacker position, naturally, the next guys that will get their first crack at playing more snaps will be both of those guys. And it can be kind of a mix and match. And that's something that we're going to get together today and tomorrow, and then have for those guys on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday getting ready for the Texans.”

McVay notably spoke in great length about Jones, the third-round rookie the Rams selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. Jones' efforts in the preseason and what he's shown in practices give McVay a good sense that he's going to tackle this new opportunity head-on.

“I think anytime that you draft a player, you always have a vision for them, but we're always open-minded. You let guys compete. Their draft status has nothing to do with whether or not they earn the opportunity, guys earn everything that they get here. You have a vision for what he could be, that's why we took them in the third round. I think he's done a good job with the opportunities that he's had, but Kenny ended up earning the right to be on the grass as much as he has in a lot of those single-backer defenses. 

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Jones, the former South Carolina Gamecock, registered 86 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble during his final year in the college ranks in 2020. As a rookie with the Rams this season, Jones has primarily been a special teams contributor but his role will vastly expand following the departure of Young.

McVay went on to say that he and the team have the utmost respect and confidence in both Jones and Reeder, which ultimately allowed them to make a trade of this stature.

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Nick Cothrel is the Publisher of Ram Digest. Follow Nick and Ram Digest on Twitter @NickCothrel & @RamDigestSI for more Rams coverage.