Los Angeles Rams linebacker Mark Barron feels he is on schedule in his rehab from a pair of offseason surgeries.
Working his way back from procedures to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and bone spurs in both heels, Barron is not expected to be ready for the start of training camp on July 26.
Barron told the Los Angeles Times this week that his physical condition continues to improve, although he acknowledged there are “up and down some days” with his heels.
The Rams have not specified a target date for Barron’s return, but the belief among team officials is the 28-year-old Barron will be on the field “somewhere in the middle” of training camp.
“I’m on track with where I’m supposed to be,” Barron told the newspaper.
Barron, a first-round pick (No. 7 overall) of the Rams in 2012, arrived in the NFL as a safety but was converted to linebacker to take advantage of his playmaking skills.
There were questions of how Barron would adapt last season to playing inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. He initially was moved to outside linebacker in a 4-3 setup under previous defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Despite lacking the bulk of a typical inside linebacker at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Barron registered a career-high 117 tackles and three interceptions while helping spark Los Angeles’ improbable run to an NFC West title.
That despite playing the season with the shoulder and heel injuries.
“I was playing through injuries the whole year and still performed well, but it’s always in the back of your mind: How would I be able to perform if I felt 100 percent, if I felt good,'” said Barron.
The Rams overhauled their defense in the offseason, acquiring star cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters in separate trades while signing tackle Ndamukong Suh via free agency.
Pass-rushing end Robert Quinn and fellow linebacker Alec Ogletree are no longer with the club, leaving Barron surrounded by younger talent in linebackers Cory Littleton and Samson Ebukam.
“Once I get back out there and get in the huddle with these guys, whatever is needed, whether it’s communication or whatever I need to do, is what I’ll be doing,” said Barron. “We’re in a great position to make a Super Bowl run.”