The Rams have been going through a rough patch in the National Football League for a while. They haven’t been in the playoffs since 2004 and haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1999. Now in their second year back in Los Angeles, the Rams are again experiencing a few speed bumps on their way back to the playoffs.
On Tuesday, Dominique Easley tore his ACL which ended his season yet again, four days into the Rams’ training-camp schedule and more than a month before their games start counting.
Not good. #Rams DL Dominique Easley has torn another ACL, according to his MRI results. His season is over before it began. Tough blow.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 2, 2017
Four of his five prior seasons ended prematurely because of injuries. His 2016 season was nothing short of a miracle as he has a long history of injury. In 2011 and 2013 while at University of Florida, Easley tore ligaments in his legs. In 2014 and 2015, he landed on injured reserve right around the middle of December. Last season was his only full season of his career, a glimmering bright spot for the Rams.
Also on Tuesday, Rams receiver Tavon Austin was taken off the field early due to an apparent leg injury. He is currently being evaluated but signs point to the injury not being that serious.
Lance Dunbar, who was signed to be a change-of-pace running back for Todd Gurley, has been slow to recover from a lingering knee injury and there is no set timetable for his return. Behind them is Malcolm Brown with 22 carries spanning 2 seasons, Aaron Green who was on the practice squad most of his rookie season and Justin Davis, an undrafted free agent this spring.
With Easley out and Aaron Donald still holding out with contract issues, most of the first-team snaps alongside Michael Brockers on the defensive line will go to Ethan Westbrooks who has only started twice in 3 years, Louis Trinca-Pasat who spent last season on the injury reserve and Tanzel Smart who was a late draft pick last April.
The defensive line used to be the Rams’ deepest position. But they’ve cut into that depth, largely because they only need three down linemen for Wade Phillips’ 3-4 system. The Rams focused instead on addressing their depth at linebacker during the offseason. And now general manager Les Snead prefers to look at his defensive-line depth as a combination of defensive linemen and outside linebackers, seeing it as more of a five-man system than a three-man.
“I don’t know if you really go into any year going, we need to prepare for injuries,” Snead said. “But you do go into the year preparing to be the most complete team as possible, and that goes into the contributors, the people that are not starting, so that if they’re called upon, they’re ready.”
Aside from the injuries, there have been some positives surrounding the mob squad. Rookie tight end, Gerald Everett, looks like he can be the surprise of the 2017 draft class.
A basketball player in high school, Everett was overlooked by most of the big schools and wound up at South Alabama. At 6’3″ and 239 pounds, Everett is a big body that is elusive with great speed at the tight end position as he posted a 4.62-second 40. He has shown great hands in camp so far and has been a reliable target for Goff over the middle. If Sean McVay utilizes him like he did his tight ends in Washington, we could see Everett put up Jordan Reed like numbers, which is great news for a team that lacks a true number one receiver.
Cooper Kupp has also looked pretty consistent in camp as he has been running with the special teams, but also with the ones and twos. The combination of Everett and Kupp could surprise a lot of people in 2017.