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Rams DE Robert Quinn aiming to get back to great

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- To hear St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn tell it, his 2014 season was a borderline disappointment.

Yes, a season in which Quinn finished with 46 tackles, 10½ sacks and five forced fumbles on his way to a second consecutive Pro Bowl berth simply wasn't good enough for the Rams' best player.

When you consider the context in which Quinn places the season, it's much easier to understand why he wasn't exactly thrilled with his production.

"You’re never really satisfied," Quinn said. "Yeah, it’s great to make a Pro Bowl but, I mean, I set my bar extremely high. Ten-and-a-half [sacks] is a good season, but I want great seasons every year I’m here."

In other words, Quinn became a victim of his own success. In 2013, Quinn emerged as one of the most dominant players in the NFL, regardless of position. He won the Pro Football Writers of America's Defensive Player of the Year award after recording 57 tackles, 19 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

The breakthrough season earned Quinn a new six-year, $65.6 million deal, which he signed just before the team's Week 2 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But as the numbers in Quinn's bank account rose considerably, the numbers in the sack column dwindled.

A Rams pass rush that many thought would be among the best in the league registered only one quarterback takedown in the first five games, an NFL record for futility to open the season since sacks became an official statistic. Quinn went without a sack for the first five games, his longest streak without a sack since he entered the league in 2011.

"That’s something I have got to push myself to start faster, do whatever I can to figure it out," Quinn said. "Maybe get 20 [sacks] or whatever the number may be. I just set my bar so high; that way I can constantly continue to reach and if I reach it. I guess I have to push myself a little bit more. I wasn’t satisfied, but I guess you can look at it as not bad to make a Pro Bowl."

Quinn got rolling as the 2014 season progressed, posting those 10½ sacks in the team's final 11 games, including six in four weeks from Week 7 to Week 10. It was no coincidence that Quinn and the rest of the pass rush surged as soon as rookie defensive tackle Aaron Donald joined the starting lineup.

With Donald now entrenched next to him and Chris Long returning at full strength, Quinn shouldn't want for one-on-one pass rush opportunities. That should help his cause, but that doesn't mean Quinn is counting on others to create more opportunities for him.

That's why Quinn is spending this training camp looking for ways to bolster his game and add new tricks to his bag.

"[You have to] constantly work your craft," Quinn said. "I know that’s a simple answer, but you have got to constantly work your craft day in, day out. D-line technique really doesn’t change that much for the most part, and constantly working on get-off, hand drills, playing the run, all that type of stuff, you just constantly work that and don’t get too comfortable or too bored with doing repetitive stuff. The D-line, we repeat a lot, but that’s part of our jobs."

Quinn declined the chance to offer some in-depth explanations on what he's hoping to add to his pass-rushing arsenal, but after some coaxing, he did mention his desire to add a power rush to his array of speed moves. Now entering his fifth season, Quinn believes there's plenty of ways for him to improve.

"If you can’t learn anymore, I guess it’s time to get out of the game," Quinn said. "So you constantly are trying to add something to your tool belt. Where O-linemen, for me it’s just if they know what you are about to do, you throw a curveball at them and now he’s on his heels. You are always trying to add something to your game, not trying to change your game completely, but add something to it to make it better. Each day you come out, try to do something a little bit different that, “They’ve never seen this before,” so I’m going to work this for the week or whatever. You can’t get too comfortable with what you are able to do now."

Especially when being good simply isn't, well, good enough.