‘Big loss’ for Rams: Easley out for sea­son with in­jury

De­fen­sive line­man suf­fered torn ACL in right knee dur­ing a non-con­tact play.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Gary Klein gary.klein@la­times.com Twit­ter: @la­timesklein

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.

Etc.

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.

Wally Skalij Los An­ge­les Times

DO­MINIQUE EASLEY, shown forc­ing a fum­ble against the 49ers last sea­son, had pre­vi­ous knee in­juries.

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