Rams' Quinn has big goals for 2014

ST. LOUIS — Robert Quinn has high expectations for the follow-up to his breakthrough 2013 season that earned him a Pro Bowl invitation, but he wasn’t interested in discussing the details on Friday.

The 24-year-old Rams defensive end, who was second in the NFL with 19 sacks a year ago, has a bigger goal in mind for 2014. But on Friday, following the team’s first full-squad practice of training camp, he wasn’t willing to tell a group of reporters what he’s aiming for.

“I don’t think so,” Quinn said. “I can’t do that, because you’re going to put too much pressure on me.”

Quinn was asked if the number is more than last year.

“I’ll say that,” he offered.

Then he was asked if the first number of his sack total starts with a 2.

“Maybe,” he said. “I’ll just say maybe.”

The 6-foot-4, 264-pounder has 34.5 sacks in 47 games over three seasons. He finished 2013 with a flourish, with six sacks in the final three weeks against the Saints, Buccaneers and Seahawks, but finished half a sack shy of the NFL’s best mark, 19.5, by the Colts’ Robert Mathis.

Still, Quinn’s breakthrough performance last season pushed him to the upper echelon of the game’s elite defenders and made him a legitimate defensive player of the year candidate even though the Rams went 7-9.

But Quinn isn’t resting on his laurels.

He knows he has areas for improvement in his game.

“For me, personally, be more stout in the run (game),” Quinn said. “Because I’m per se a smaller end, so they might attack me a little bit more. I constantly want to push myself to be the best complete player I can be and try to take any weakness out of my game.”

Yeah, he’s working on a little bit of everything.

“You can never be too strong,” he said. “You can always get yourself in better leverage. All of that good stuff. So you’re constantly trying to better yourself and take it one day at a time.”

The Rams defense, which had 53 sacks in 2013, should be better in 2014 under the leadership of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and development of young players like Quinn, 23-year-old defensive tackles Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald and 22-year-old linebacker Alec Ogletree.

Quinn is well aware that he’s likely to see more double teams this fall and he’s OK with that. He knows it will open up more opportunities for his teammates, like Chris Long at the other end, or Brockers, Donald or Kendall Langford.

But Quinn still has his sights set on a big number in 2014, even if he’s not willing to divulge that amount right now to reporters.

The defensive end was asked Friday if he thinks about the sack record, which Michael Strahan of the New York Giants set with 22.5 in 2001.

“Can I plead the fifth?” Quinn asked. “I’m sure any d-lineman or anybody going for sacks wants to take down that record, but you have to go one sack at a time. This is the first day of training camp. We’ve got a long way to go. I’ve got a lot of work to do to better myself and I think as a defense we’ve got a lot of work to do, but when the season comes around I might have a better answer for you.”

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com

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