LA Rams’ Fowler confirms fine drama with Coughlin, Jags
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — For Dante Fowler and Jalen Ramsey, the drama around the Jacksonville Jaguars this week has been just one more reminder of how happy they are to be in LA.
Two of the Los Angeles Rams’ three prominent former Jaguars were involved in multiple conflicts with top executive Tom Coughlin during their time in Jacksonville. Both Fowler and Ramsey were dispatched to the West Coast in trades, and both are flourishing with the Rams (8-6), even if they’ll probably fall just short of making the playoffs this month.
Coughlin was fired on Wednesday roughly one hour after Fowler spoke in the Rams’ locker room about his biggest conflict with the veteran football boss. Fowler confirmed he had been fined over $700,000 by the Jaguars for declining to complete his offseason rehabilitation work at the team’s training complex.
The Jags’ demands violated the collective bargaining agreement, and an arbitrator recently ruled in favor of the NFL players’ union and Fowler, who got his money back. Two days after Fowler confirmed his role in the drama on Twitter, writing that the Jags “literally hated me,” Coughlin was gone.
“It was clear as day, just according to the rules,” Fowler said Wednesday. “That was the initial thing I told the guys. I just brought that to the table, like, ‘You can’t do this at a certain time.’ ‘I shouldn’t be able to get fined during the offseason.’ Things like that. That’s all it was. As long as I was able to get the money back in the offseason that I got fined, I was fine with that.”
Fowler also revealed Wednesday that he missed organized team activities with the Rams earlier this year partly because he was dealing with the arbitration around his unfair fines.
“During OTAs, that’s what I was doing, and being with my kids,” Fowler said. “Just working through that and being there. Other than that, I’m happy it went smoothly and went well. There’s a lot of great people in this organization that supported what I had to do, and I was just grateful I was able to get it turned around.”
Fowler has also turned around his NFL career after he failed to become a starter in 3 1/2 seasons with the Jaguars, who didn’t pick up his fifth-year contract option after drafting him with the third overall pick in 2015.
Fowler has a career-high nine sacks this season heading into the Rams’ road finale Saturday night against the 49ers (11-3). He is likely headed for a significant payday in the offseason from the Rams or another suitor, but he is focused on the Rams’ strong finish and slim postseason chances.
“We know we have to win, and if we win these last two games, anything can play out,” Fowler said. “We just have a little bit of hope, and we’ve got to keep fighting. That’s our mentality as a team. We’ve been fighting through adversity ever since we’ve got here.”
Fowler has been joined in Los Angeles this season by two more former Jaguars top-five picks: quarterback Blake Bortles, who has spent the year as Jared Goff’s backup, and Ramsey, the cornerback who arrived in a trade two months ago.
Ramsey also had a tremendously rocky relationship with Coughlin and the Jaguars, culminating in his trade request this season.
Although Ramsey wasn’t around in the Rams’ locker room Wednesday, he has made his feelings about his former employers known this week on social media.
After news of the Jaguars’ arbitration loss Monday, Ramsey wrote on his Twitter account: “Tried to tell y’all,” along with two frustration emojis.
After Coughlin was fired Wednesday, Ramsey tweeted two more emojis: A pair of eyes, followed by a face with a zippered mouth.
The cornerback has played largely impenetrable defense since joining the Rams, and he was selected for his third Pro Bowl appearance Tuesday, even though he hasn’t made an interception for LA and has only three pass defenses — both functions of quarterbacks largely refusing to even throw the ball his way.
Ramsey has repeatedly spoken about his desire for a long-term future in Los Angeles, and Fowler’s excitement about joining the Rams also was clear from his first days in uniform last season.
Fowler played his way into a key role as a linebacker with the Rams, culminating in his 1 1/2 sacks and four tackles for loss during the Rams’ playoff run to the Super Bowl. He memorably delivered a hit on Drew Brees to force the interception that led to Los Angeles’ winning overtime field goal in the NFC title game.
Fowler then showed his happiness with the Rams by agreeing to a one-year, $12 million contract extension in March instead of testing free agency. Both Fowler and the team thought of it as a prove-it contract for a player with ample potential as an elite pass-rusher, but just 16 sacks in his first three NFL seasons.
Fowler has proved plenty this season for the Rams, including a three-sack game against Atlanta and a steady stream of quarterback hits.
“We’re just out here trying to win this game and playing Rams football,” Fowler said. “That’s how we play.”
NOTES: TE Gerald Everett was a full participant in practice after missing the last three games with a knee injury. ... K Greg Zuerlein didn’t practice while resting his injured quadriceps. Coach Sean McVay says the Rams might wait until Friday to decide whether they need to sign another kicker for Saturday’s game. ... CB Troy Hill also didn’t practice after thumb surgery, but the Rams haven’t decided whether he will try to play with protection on the digit.
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