– In their search for depth and experience at linebacker, the Rams turned to a familiar face Monday morning, signing Will Witherspoon to a one-year contract.
– Witherspoon, of course, will be embarking on his second tour in St. Louis after he spent the prime of his career, from 2006 to 2009 with the Rams.
– When the Rams signed Witherspoon in 2006, he was widely regarded as an emerging player after a successful four-year stint in Carolina. Asked to switch to middle linebacker after playing on the outside for the Panthers, Witherspoon adapted well to his new role and immediately became one of the team’s primary defensive leaders.
– Witherspoon led the Rams in tackles with 136 in 2006 and followed with 132 in 2007. He earned the team’s Most Valuable Player award for his efforts in 2007, when he added seven sacks to the tackle tally.
– Witherspoon shifted back to the outside after the team drafted James Laurinaitis to man the middle. He was traded to Philadelphia in a deal for WR Brandon Gibson near the trade deadline in 2009. He finished the year with the Eagles before signing with Tennessee as a free agent in 2010.
– For the following three seasons, Witherspoon played for the Titans where he worked (at various times) with now Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, assistant head coach Dave McGinnis and linebackers coach Frank Bush.
– Clearly, having spent time in Fisher’s defense makes Witherspoon an ideal fit to bring depth and experience to the mix.
– In an 11-year career, Witherspoon has played 173 games with 150 starts, posting 938 tackles, 26 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries and 13 interceptions along the way.
– Back in St. Louis, Witherspoon will be expected to provide depth and fill a leadership role in a linebacker group that save for Laurinaitis, Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Josh Hull doesn’t bring much in the way of experience to the table.
– Witherspoon has actually maintained his home in St. Louis since departing. He owns and runs Shire Gate farm, which provides hormone and anti-biotic free grassfed beef to consumers.
– Witherspoon tweeted his excitement to return to the Rams from his Twitter account (@willwitherspoon) on July 18, saying: “So the rumors are true I’m going Back to STL!! Is anyone as excited as I am? NOPE!!”
– We’ll have more from Witherspoon later in the week.
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