By Sam McPherson
In the team’s first season back in Los Angeles, the Rams have gotten off to a surprising 3-2 start, and as the squad heads east to take on the Detroit Lions Sunday at Ford Field, there are few injury concerns. However, the injuries the team is looking at are potentially serious ones that could hurt the Rams defensively this weekend.
The Rams have only five players listed on the official injury report today, and in addition, there are a few other players on the mend. Of the five official entries, one is definitely out for Sunday while four others will be listed as questionable heading into the matchup against the Lions.
Cornerback Trumaine Johnson (ankle) is definitely out for the Detroit game with a fractured ankle. The 26-year-old player had started all five previous games this year before hurting himself last week against the Buffalo Bills. Johnson posted 18 tackles and one interception combined in the Rams’ three wins this year, so he will be missed as he sits out a few games healing.
Four other players did not participate in workouts this week at all: defensive tackle Michael Brockers (hip), defensive end William Hayes (ankle), defensive end Robert Quinn (shoulder) and guard Cody Wichmann (ankle). Usually, when a player isn’t practicing, they’re long shots to play on Sunday, but none of the four players has been ruled out definitively yet for the Lions game.
Brockers missed last week’s game against Buffalo with the hip problem, and he has registered only five tackles in four games this year — including no sacks. In his NFL career, all with the Rams, Brockers has notched 14.5 sacks in 65 games. Prior to last week, though, he had started every game since the start of the 2013 season.
His linemate Hayes has missed the last two games with his ankle injury. He posted 11 total tackles and a sack in the first three games of the season, and Hayes has piled up 22.5 sacks in his 65 games with the Rams over his NFL career. He previously had eight sacks in four seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
Obviously, missing these two DEs up front will hurt the Rams as they try to slow down the Detroit offense. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is somewhat mistake prone when under pressure, so the Los Angeles defense will have to find alternatives to get to the QB on Sunday. The Bills were able to take advantage of this last Sunday, so don’t think the Detroit coaching staff hasn’t noticed.
Toss in the fact that Quinn may not be available, and the Rams will have a hard time getting to Stafford. He also missed the Buffalo game, and it hurt the L.A. defense. Quinn has two sacks this year and a whopping 52 sacks in his six-year NFL career. If all three of these defensive linemen cannot play on Sunday, it’s going to be another long day for the Rams.
Finally, Wichmann’s absence means potentially less running room for the St. Louis offense and running back Todd Gurley. Wichmann has started all five games this year, but if the Rams have to dig into their offensive line depth, Gurley may struggle even against a mediocre Lions run defense (currently allowing 114.8 yards per game).
On the positive front, RB Benny Cunningham is recovered from the hamstring injury that caused him to miss the Bills game, and he will be able to augment Gurley’s efforts in the offensive ground game against Detroit.
Michael Brockers, DT (Hip)
William Hayes, DE (Ankle)
Robert Quinn, DE (Shoulder)
Cody Wichmann, G (Ankle)
Trumaine Johnson, CB (Ankle)