‘Big loss’ for Rams: Easley out for season with injury
Defensive lineman suffered torn ACL in right knee during a non-contact play.
The play came up during a film-review session, but Michael Brockers could not bear to look.
“I see the start of the play and I know what play it is,” Brockers said, “and I don’t even watch it.”
Brockers and other Rams defensive linemen on Wednesday lamented the loss of teammate Dominique Easley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first fullpads workout on Tuesday.
Easley had appeared on track to start at end in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. He was injured on a non-contact play, coach Sean McVay said.
“It is really unfortunate, because you talk about a guy that was doing things the right way, you really felt his presence,” McVay said, adding, “That certainly is a big loss for us.”
Easley suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. It is the third major knee injury of Easley’s college and pro career — and leaves the Rams with a void in their defensive front that seems to grow larger by the day.
Star lineman Aaron Donald remains absent because of a contract dispute. Easley is now lost for the season.
Linebacker Robert Quinn did not attend Wednesday’s practice, but McVay said it was for a previously arranged situation.
With Donald and Easley out, Ethan Westbrooks and Louis Trinca-Pasat got extended work flanking Brockers.
“It’s kind of sad — you see Dominique go down, and Aaron’s not here,” Brockers said. “You kind of miss those guys’ character and the atmosphere they bring. But the most [important] thing for me is pick up the guys behind.”
Westbrooks, a fourth-year pro, played as an end and also at tackle in previous seasons.
“You never want to see a teammate go down, especially with what [Easley’s] got, but you kind of got to make sure the next man is ready,” Westbrooks said.
Trinca-Pasat suffered a knee injury in 2016 during organized team activities and did not play last season.
The 6-foot-1, 300-pound Trinca-Pasat said he felt like “a little kid in a candy store” to be back on the field with teammates. McVay would probably feel the same way if Donald reported.
Donald wants a new deal that would make him among the NFL’s highest-paid defensive players. He is accruing $40,000 daily in fines.
“When you lose one of your best players because of injury or one of your best players isn’t here because of some contract disputes, that is always something that you want to try to get resolved as quickly as possible,” McVay said.
McVay reiterated that the Rams would “love to have him back,” that team executives were “tirelessly working to find a solution,” and that elite players such as Donald find a way to transition quickly after not practicing with the team.
But he also noted the importance of practice, especially when installing a new system. Players in attendance develop chemistry and continuity, McVay said.
“When that time becomes where you start to worry about that — it’s hard to put an exact date on it,” he said. “The thing that we would just relay is that we would love to have him here and we’re constantly trying to figure out that solution every day.”
The offense also is without a starter because of injury. Receiver Tavon Austin did not practice because of what McVay described as a minor hamstring injury. Austin was injured Tuesday while running a deep route in a drills.
Quarterback Jared Goff appears to be building rhythm with receiver Robert Woods . ... Receiver Pharoh Cooper and rookie tight end Gerald Everett caught touchdown passes from quarterback Sean Mannion in short-yardage drills . ... Unlike last year, running back Todd Gurley is taking significant reps and catching the ball well . ... Punter Johnny Hekker pinpointed multiple directional punts . ... Rookie linebacker Samson Ebukam did not practice because of a hamstring injury, McVay said. … The Rams are off Thursday. They will return to practice Friday and scrimmage against the San Diego Chargers on Saturday at the StubHub Center. The scrimmage is not open to the public.
DOMINIQUE EASLEY, shown forcing a fumble against the 49ers last season, had previous knee injuries.