NFC West High Energy Player of the Week

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 8.

The St. Louis Rams are giving middle linebacker James Laurinaitis extra down time during their bye week.

Laurinaitis needs the rest to let a sprained knee recover, but he's earned the break outright.

The second-year pro from Ohio State was all over the field Sunday as the Rams defeated the Carolina Panthers 20-10 -- the seventh time in eight games Laurinaitis & Co. have held their opponents to 18 or fewer points.

Laurinaitis finished the game with eight tackles, including three for losses, one sack and a tone-setting interception on the Panthers' first play from scrimmage.

"They tried to come out with some kind of trick stuff," Laurinaitis told reporters after the game. "I think we had the deep option covered. I see [Panthers receiver] Steve Smith kind of running a drag. Eventually the quarterback's going to look at him and I don’t think he saw me dropping back."

Laurinaitis was tough to miss for the rest of us.

He made a third-down tackle to end Carolina's third drive. His tackle for a 2-yard loss helped stop the Panthers' fourth drive. Late in the third quarter, Laurinaitis tackled Jonathan Stewart for a 3-yard loss, then sacked Moore for a 6-yard loss on third-and-13.