Since the Rams drafted Laurinaitis in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft, he has been one of the few stalwarts in the lineup at his usual position every day of every week for five years. Before missing the first two preseason games against Green Bay and New Orleans with a left ankle injury, Laurinaitis had only missed a single preseason game early in his career.
Aside from that minor blip, Laurinaitis has played all 80 regular-season games and rarely even missed practice. A self-described football junkie, Laurinaitis hasn't taken well to sitting out the past couple of weeks. So it was with great pleasure that he returned to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday.
"I don’t rest very well," Laurinaitis said. "It’s not one of my attributes. I don’t like it. It felt good to be out there. I would assume that we do a little more tomorrow and just keep phasing back in."
Laurinaitis suffered the ankle injury early in training camp when he says he tripped over defensive tackle Kendall Langford and awkwardly twisted the ankle. The ankle is the same one Laurinaitis had bone spurs in and was cleaned out in minor surgery in the offseason. According to Laurinaitis, the injury actually deals with the same ligament though it's a different injury.
More than two weeks removed, Laurinaitis said he's feeling much better.
"It just happened to be that exact ligament, got stressed a little bit," Laurinaitis said. "It really felt great today."
Whether Laurinaitis plays against the Cleveland Browns on Saturday remains to be seen, but he has made it clear that he'd like to get some work in the preseason one way or another.
"I want to get out there just to be able to, if I don’t play Saturday I’ll definitely play against Miami because I need to get out there and hit blocks and throw and tackle and all those things," Laurinaitis said. "That’s why I don’t like just kind of standing around."
Of course, if this weekend was the start of the regular season, there's little doubt in Laurinaitis' mind that he'd be playing. The Rams have taken a cautious approach with all of their key injured players, bringing them along slowly to ensure there are no setbacks.
Despite Laurinaitis' desire to get back on the field sooner than later, he has come to grips with that approach knowing that it's a means to an end.
"I pride myself always on being available," Laurinaitis said. "We always talk about ability and availability. Two big things that Coach [Gregg] Williams is big on and I’ve always been big on. I pride myself on the fact that I haven’t missed a regular season game. You’ve got to be smart. Because if you go out there like, ‘Hey, let’s test it’ and you do all these things then you have a setback and you’re out another four weeks or three weeks, that would be a terrible deal."