Following a four-week hiatus, LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar re-signed with the Rams on Tuesday and will be available for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville.
Dunbar served as a valued member of the Rams’ defense in 2012, finishing with 112 tackles and 4.5 sacks while starting all 16 games at outside linebacker. Dunbar played in three of the Rams’ four preseason games this season before his four-game suspension and subsequent release on Sept. 3.
From the outset of his absence, Dunbar had hoped for a potential return to the Rams.
“It’s a pleasure to be back,” Dunbar said. “I miss being with these guys and being in this locker room. That’s one thing you miss when you’re away, just the camaraderie and being able to play the game you love. I’m definitely thankful to have the opportunity to come back and I appreciate it. This is obviously the best situation for me in terms of playing and knowing the defense and the guys.”
During his absence, Dunbar was diligent to avoid losing a step physically despite being off the field. While there may be no substitute for live practice reps and game competition, Dunbar maintained a stringent workout regimen to stay game-ready.
“My 5 a.m. workouts are pretty brutal, to be honest,” Dunbar said. “I’ve been working, so there wasn’t much rust to knock off. It was more just anxiousness and excitement.”
Tuesday was the first day Dunbar was eligible to return. Dunbar practiced with the team on Tuesday and could figure into the team’s plans this weekend. Dunbar’s addition comes at a good time for a Rams defense that had struggled against the run in its past two games. The Rams rank 29th in the league against the run, allowing 133.5 yards per game on the ground.
“We’re real excited and we’re glad to have him,” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said. “It’s really good timing. We don’t know where Will (Witherspoon) is going to be this week, so it’s good timing.”
Dunbar adds an element of experience to what was primarily a youthful linebacking corps after Witherspoon left last week’s game with a hamstring injury. The six-year veteran anticipates no difficulty adjusting to game speed and assuming a leadership role again.
“I’m just going to play the way Jo-Lonn plays,” Dunbar said. “Just play with some fire, hair on fire, get after guys. As I’ve said plenty of times, there’s a winning team in this locker room, a playoff team in this locker room. That’s something we’ve got to prove, but I’m just looking forward to getting back and helping in any way possible.”