By Sam McPherson
The Los Angeles Rams have a healthier defensive line as they prepare to face the New York Giants in London on Sunday, although the team still will have some issues as it tries to stop the run and pressure the quarterback against a tough opponent in another time zone far across the sea.
Defensive ends William Hayes (ankle) and Robert Quinn (shoulder) were both full participants in the Rams final workout this week and are expected to play in Week 7 as Los Angeles tries to improve on its 3-3 record this season. Hayes played last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, making one tackle, while Quinn has missed the last two games with his injury.
Unfortunately, defensive tackle Michael Brockers (thigh) is expected to miss the game. He played against the Lions as well, also registering one tackle, but he had difficulty making a go of it in practice this week, according to both the team website and NFL.com.
The Los Angeles defense is 23rd this season against the run, due to the vast amount of injuries the roster has experienced on the defensive line. Giving up 115.7 yards per game on the ground is not a recipe for success, obviously, but with so many injuries, the Rams have been doing the best they can.
The good news here is that the Giants have one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL this season, averaging only 76 yards a game themselves. New York has had its fair share of injuries to its backfield, so the playing field may be somewhat leveled in that regard.
However, the Rams still need to mount pressure on the opposing QB, Eli Manning. At age 35, Manning isn’t the same player that led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins (2007, 2011), but he’s still a dangerous passer if given time to throw. The inability to get pressure on the Detroit QB last week hurt Los Angeles’ chances of winning that game. With the injuries above, it may be more of the same on Sunday for the Rams.
Last year, the defense registered 41 sacks in 16 games, while this year, the L.A. defense has just 10 sacks in six games. The Rams are on pace for just 27 sacks, which would be the team’s lowest total since head coach Jeff Fisher took over in 2012. The team’s defense has fed off QB pressure for years now, so if the Rams want to get to that .500 level this year—or beyond, the defensive line needs to get healthier as soon as possible.
One other defensive injury of note for Los Angeles is cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who is still out with a fractured ankle. With the team’s bye on the other side of Sunday, the Rams hope that Johnson may be ready in Week 9, but the team will know more as that game approaches.
Offensively, L.A. is better situated: Guard Jamon Brown (hand) and wide receiver Nelson Spruce (calf) are doubtful for the London game against the Giants after not being able to practice fully this week in preparation. Neither player is high on the depth chart, however, so the Rams should be okay on offense against the N.Y. defense Sunday.
LA Rams Official Injury Report
William Hayes, DE (Ankle)
Robert Quinn, DE (Shoulder)
Jamon Brown, G (Hand)
Nelson Spruce, WR (Calf)
Michael Brockers, DT (Thigh)
Trumaine Johnson, CB (Ankle)