The St. Louis Rams absorbed a big blow on defense when outside linebacker Alec Ogletree suffered a fractured right fibula that left his season in doubt.
Replacing the team's leading tackler from each of the past two seasons would be no easy task, but the Week 6 bye allowed the Rams to get creative with their linebacker corps and slide Mark Barron from safety to weak-side linebacker for Sunday's game versus Cleveland.
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"I think that's a great spot for Mark," Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins said. "Hard-nosed hitter. Loves to be around the ball. High energy."
Barron made the move look brilliant with a stellar performance Sunday. He registered a team-high 16 tackles, including 10 solo and two for losses, as the Rams forced four turnovers, collected four sacks and surrendered only a pair of field goals in a 24-6 victory.
"I'm just playing football," Barron said. "That's easy to me. I just line up and I know my responsibility. And as long as I know my responsibility, I can do that. It's not a hard adjustment. It's just football."
Barron helped snuff out one of Cleveland's last hopes, combining with safety T.J. McDonald to force a fumble by Browns wideout Travis Benjamin near midfield early in the fourth quarter. The Rams recovered and running back Todd Gurley scored seven plays later for a commanding 24-6 lead.
"We've asked him to do a lot more with Alec being gone," St. Louis middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said of Barron. "He knows a lot of football and really triggers when he sees a play happening he goes for it."