THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Most of the Los Angeles Rams knew hardly anything about Larrell Murchison before Christmas except his name.
Murchison made sure his new teammates will remember it by punctuating the Rams' blowout holiday victory with a two-sack Los Angeles debut last weekend.
Murchison capped a tumultuous month of his life by dropping Russell Wilson twice and making four tackles on just 16 snaps in the Rams' 51-14 victory. The sacks were the first two in the three-year NFL career of a former fifth-round pick who had been shocked when Tennessee waived him less than two weeks earlier.
“It felt good to make some plays like that,” Murchison said Thursday. “I was just grateful I was able to do it, especially on my first day out. I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t think it could happen, but I was just glad it happened.”
A mere 13 days after the Titans gave up on him — and one month after Tennessee gave him a contract extension — Murchison had Sean McVay and Bobby Wagner singing his praises.
Wagner said Murchison “probably said about four words” during his first full week with the team, instead spending his time cramming to learn the Rams' defensive scheme.
“Then he goes out and gets a sack and starts dancing and starts talking, and we were like, ‘Yo, where’s this? Where did this come from?’” Wagner said with a laugh. “He’s put in a lot of work to try to understand the scheme and the nuances of the defense, and it was really fun to just watch him have fun out there and let loose and not worry about always being right or whatever, but just making plays.”
The Rams hoped Murchison simply could fill in for Aaron Donald and several other injured defensive linemen, and he responded by doing more than they imagined. He likely would have played even more, but a stinger in the second half curtailed his action.
Murchison will be good to go for Sunday when the Rams (5-10) face the Los Angeles Chargers.
“That’s what it’s all about, building confidence day in and day out, whether it’s in practice, whether it’s in the game,” Murchison said. “That’s a big thing. Confidence is really the biggest thing for me.”
Murchison played in 26 games for Tennessee with five starts, but he never locked down a role on the Titans' defense — and he didn't even make the roster out of training camp this season, forcing him to spend 2 1/2 months on the practice squad.
Murchison thought his fortunes were changing in mid-November when he got a roster promotion and a contract extension through 2024 from the Titans. Instead, the team waived him four days after general manager Jon Robinson was fired on Dec. 6.
“I had just signed an extension there,” Murchison said. “I think it was like a two-year extension. That was home for me for my first three years, so I was definitely surprised, but everything happens for a reason. You've got to take whatever comes with this game.”
The Rams claimed Murchison off waivers on Dec. 12, and he headed straight to the West Coast. Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris jokingly praised the move Thursday by saying he was grateful that Rams GM Les Snead “got me Warren Sapp off the waiver wire.”
Morris said his pregame motivational talk for Murchison was brief.
“I just looked at him and I said, ‘Hey man, nobody knows you,’” Morris said. “‘We barely know you. Go have fun, right? Let’s go prove (Mike) Vrabel wrong.’ I made it a joke that way. Nothing against Vrabel. I just was taking a shot at the team we claimed him from. It was a lot of fun for that young man, and it was expressed in his play and how he went out there, and his ability to absolutely capture his teammates.”
Murchison likes to take his time to fit into new social situations, but he didn't have that luxury with the Rams. He's hoping to make a strong enough impression to stick around, and his dynamic debut was a perfect start.
“I ain't going to lie, that was really fun,” he said with a grin. “It always takes me a minute to meet people and talk with people, but it’s going to work out.”
NOTES: Greg Gaines missed practice Thursday with a shoulder injury. The defensive tackle wasn't on the Rams' injury report Wednesday. ... TE Tyler Higbee was limited with an elbow injury. He became the Rams' franchise leader in TD catches among tight ends last week.
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