Rams OLB Dominique Easley undergoes fourth knee surgery
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams moved Dominique Easley to outside linebacker during training camp partly with the hope of minimizing the risks to his frequently injured knees.
It didn’t work.
Easley underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee Monday, his fourth major knee surgery since 2011.
Rams coach Sean McVay expects Easley will be placed on injured reserve. With cornerback Aqib Talib and return specialist Pharoh Cooper likely to be activated off injured reserve later this season, the designation would almost certainly end Easley’s fourth season in the league and second season with the Rams.
Easley sustained his latest knee injury in the Rams’ 35-23 win over the Chargers in Week 3. He had four tackles in three games this season after missing the entire 2017 season because of a torn ACL in his right knee that he sustained in training camp last year.
“It’s kind of a matter of time before something happens,” outside linebacker Matt Longacre said. “I had back surgery. Everybody here has had something. There’s just nothing you can do about it.”
Easley’s history of knee injuries dates back to his college career at Florida. He tore the ACL in his left knee as a sophomore in 2011, and sustained a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee as a senior in 2013 but was still drafted 29th overall in the first round by New England in 2014.
“This poor guy, I couldn’t be more impressed with just the toughness, how resilient he has been fighting through so many different things with this knee,” McVay said. “Really, it’s upsetting because of how many things he has had to go through and what a great job he has done persevering to even get to the point where he is playing this year.”
The Rams had been dealing with limited depth and experience at edge rusher, and the loss of Easley will put rookie defensive end John Franklin-Myers and linebacker Trevon Young in line for larger roles. Easley, who has 6 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception in 41 career games, moved to linebacker after projected starter Morgan Fox sustained a knee injury during organized team activities in May.
Franklin-Myers recorded his first career sack against Minnesota last Thursday, stripping Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth quarter to secure the Rams’ 38-31 win. A fourth-round draft pick from Setphen F. Austin, he played 47 percent of the defensive sacks against Minnesota and showed an ability to create pressure.
“That’s what he has shown in practice,” said Longacre, who had been rotating with Easley. “I think he led the team in sacks when we charted ’em in camp, so we know what he can do and it’s starting to click for him.”
Young was active for the first time against Minnesota with Easley out. Though Young did not record a tackle, Longacre has been impressed with the progress shown by the sixth-round draft pick from Louisville.
“He caught some of those later reps in games and stuff like that, but he played really well. We’re obviously going to lean on him now, too,” Longacre said. “It’s nice to where the two guys that are going to have those big roles, we got the utmost confidence in them.”
The Rams could also find different ways to use their starting defensive line of Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. Suh played defensive end next to Donald during obvious passing situations in the fourth quarter against Minnesota, an alignment that helped him get his first sack.
“I enjoy being able to be moved around,” Suh said. “Being able to play end, tackle, nose, anything I’m asked to do. I’ll stand up in a linebacker position if I can, which I have done before, but whatever they need of me I’m happy to do.”
NOTES: K Greg Zuerlein (groin) went through a workout Sunday. McVay said there is a possibility Zuerlein could be available to play at Seattle on Sunday. . LG Rodger Saffold, TE Tyler Higbee (knee) and CB Marcus Peters (calf) did not participate in practice Monday.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL