For Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, the 2013 season was like a bad dream. You know, the kind you try to forget.

For starters, he had a reduced role in the defense as the strong side linebacker. After playing almost every down at weak side in 2012, he wasn’t on the field in the nickel package last season.

There was a new defensive coordinator (Tim Walton), which meant the scheme was different.

“It was difficult adjusting to a role, to understanding a different defense,” Dunbar said.

And that was only the half of it. He was suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating league policy on performance-enhancing substances. He was released by the team following the suspension and ended up re-signing for less money once the suspension ended.

All of which contributed to a slow start.

“It was a wacky year,” Dunbar said. “It’s kind of one of those things you just want to forget. So I’ve kind of erased it from my memory, and I’m just starting over. Let’s just move on and play some football, and get back to playing Jo-Lonn football.”

At its best, “Jo-Lonn football” is played with emotion and physicality.

For Dunbar, 2014 is off to a good start. For one, he has been reunited with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who ran the New Orleans defense when Dunbar was with the Saints. That familiarity alone should help.

“It’s great to know he’s back,” Dunbar said. “He’s a dynamic coach. He’s fun. He’s demanding. But he’ll put you in position to win a game. He’ll put you in position to make a play. And when a coach can do that, you’re excited about it.”

For another, Dunbar has a new contract. An unrestricted free agent entering the offseason, he signed a two-year, $2 million deal last month that can max out at nearly $3.5 million if playing time and team success incentives are met.

The Rams indicated to Dunbar at the end of the season that they wanted to re-sign him. Dunbar’s agent talked to other teams, but that didn’t result in any visits. It all happened pretty quickly, because Dunbar was off the market in less than four days.