St. Louis Rams add super-sub defensive tackle Alex Carrington

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Following Monday’s pickup of cornerback Greg Reid, the Rams continued to venture into the free agent market after it was revealed yesterday that they’d signed free agent defensive end Alex Carrington.

Despite their quiet start to free agency, the Rams had clearly been shopping for defensive line depth after hosting visits with Antonio Smith and Henry Melton, now members of Oakland and Dallas, respectively. Carrington’s addition to the team was revealed late yesterday afternoon on Twitter by NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

Carrington has had a relatively quiet four years in the NFL, working mostly in a rotation along Buffalo’s defensive line as both a 3-4 defensive end and a tackle. A pretty savvy pickup from head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead, if you’re asking me. Carrington’s presence lends some quality depth behind starters Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford, and as ESPN’s Nick Wagoner pointed out, he can fill the spell role that defensive ends William Hayes and Eugene Sims often had to fill along the interior.

Carrington, an Arkansas State product, had worked his way into a starting role with the Bills in 2013, but was very limited due to a quadricep injury and played in only three games. Despite a down season, Carrington is only a year removed from a season that earned him Pro Football Focus nod as the team’s “Secret Superstar”. While playing in about a third of the team’s defensive snaps, Carrington contributed two sacks and 19 tackles and became a valuable player on special teams by blocking four kicks.

Perhaps the most revelatory aspect of the PFF piece is that it brings light to the fact that Carrington’s true position wasn’t entirely established until prior to 2012. He’d been an edge rusher in college, but wasn’t suited to play outside in the NFL. For whatever reason, it took a couple of seasons for the Bills’ staff to realize that his style of play was more suited to a central role in the defensive line. Carrington had been used a variety of ways as the Bills constantly tinkered with their defensive approach.

When healthy, Carrington has been on an upward trend since entering the league as a third round draft pick in 2010. He appeared in nine games as a rookie playing in limited snaps before featuring in every game in 2011. His sophomore season was a bit rocky, as he managed just one sack and 12 tackles, but his snap count generally got higher as the season progressed. As mentioned above, 2012 was the year that he then solidified himself as a solid role player and contributor on both defense and special teams.

At just 26, Carrington can still potentially blossom into a nice player under the tutelage of Rams defensive line coach Mike Waufle. He seems like a player poised to take the next step in his development after being considered a super sub for his efforts in 2012. While defensive tackle wasn’t an area of need necessarily, if the Rams’ defensive line can improve upon a highly productive 2013, it’s a pretty scary thought. Should Carrington’s bull-rush style of play contribute to that, watch out.

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