The Rams come into the 2017 season with a nasty defensive front, but a combination of injuries and holdouts may hurt them this week.
Los Angeles’ defensive line was the lone bright spot of their otherwise dismal 2016 season. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald made another Pro Bowl and All-Pro team, and Dominique Easley enjoyed a breakout season along with a really solid veteran in Michael Brockers.
However, the Rams will likely be without their top two defensive tackles in Sunday’s matchup with the Colts.
Aaron Donald is currently still holding out for a restructured contract as he’s proven that he may be the best defensive player in the entire NFL. The Rams also lost Dominique Easley for the entire year before the season even started with a preseason ACL injury.
Donald and Easley combined for 11.5 sacks, 39 hurries, and 13.5 run stuffs last season, and each of them will be sorely missed if they are indeed out of the lineup this weekend.
The Rams will have Michael Brockers clogging up the interior on Sunday, but he likely won’t be as effective without Aaron Donald or Dominique Easley alongside him as he had all last season.
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Tyrunn Walker and Ethan Westbrooks will likely get some playing time as the only other available veterans at defensive tackle, but Tanzel Smart is a promising rookie who could have a breakout season beginning this weekend.
The Rams are adjusting to a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, and it will be interesting to see how these players fit in a new scheme this season.
The Colts don’t have the league’s greatest offensive line, but they catch a bit of a break with Donald on Easley being out for this game.