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Micah Kiser was supposed to be one of the Rams’ starting linebackers last season, but a torn pectoral suffered in the preseason ended his 2019 campaign before it could even get off the ground. He was a player a lot of fans and the coaching staff were excited about, given his physicality and strength against the run.

Now entering his third NFL season, Kiser has yet to take the field on defense in a regular-season game. He played 298 special teams snaps as a rookie in 2018, but the former fifth-round pick hasn’t had an impact with the Rams yet.

That could change in 2020, and hopefully for the Rams’ sake, it does.

Kiser said in a recent Q&A that he’s healthy, which is a good first step as he heads into the all-important third year of his career.

“Yeah, I’m real healthy,” he said. “The injury rate in football, it’s 100%. You’re going to get hurt. So I’m glad I just got it out of the way early in my career.”

It would have benefitted Kiser to play last year and gain some experience on defense, even if it was only in limited action as a first- and second-down defender. He didn’t get that chance due to his pec injury, but he says he learned a lot from watching Cory Littleton and Eric Weddle.

“Right now, I feel like I kind of know what it takes just watching and being around a lot of great pros,” he said. “Being able to be around a Cory Littleton and just seeing his movements on the field and how he plays. Being able to be around an Eric Weddle for a year and just seeing his mental approach to the game. Right now, stuff is slowing down. You can pick little specific things to focus on instead of having such a wide view of the game, you can focus in on more of the little intricacies and little details. So that’s where I’m at right now.”

Kiser is a smart player. He won the Campbell Trophy in 2017, which is recognized as the “Academic Heisman.” His football IQ is something that stood out to Sean McVay and the Rams before the 2018 draft, but he just hasn’t put it all together on the field yet due to better players being above him on the depth chart and obviously injury.

The door is wide open for Kiser to become a starter next season. Littleton is set to become a free agent next month and even if he does return, the Rams have struggled to find a reliable defender to play next to him at inside linebacker.

They went through Bryce Hager, Troy Reeder and Travin Howard last season, none of whom stood out as surefire starters in 2020. With an impressive training camp and continued strong play in the preseason, Kiser can easily emerge as the second-best linebacker on the team – if Littleton is back.