LA Rams News: DL Brockers on COVID-19 list cuts deeply

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

In LA Rams News: Placing veteran defensive lineman Michael Brockers on reserve/COVID-19 list hampers team’s ability to contain Murray

The LA Rams roster continues to morph with each passing day. The latest news about the team involves the defense, perhaps at the deepest position on the team, over defensive lineman Michael Brockers. Today’s news is likely the result of contact tracing, which per information provided by ESPN’s LIndsey Thiry, likely will place him out for five days. And just like that, the Rams have one fewer starter to face the Cardinals.

So the Rams are in a must-win situation, and yet the team has just learned that one of their most productive and seasoned veterans of the defense will be out.  Michael Brockers is more than just a defensive lineman. He is even more than a trusted friend of teammate Aaron Donald. He is the quality control safeguard of this defense. He does the jobs that many cannot or will not. And that is where the Rams will miss him most.

Versatile veteran

Brockers has been incredibly versatile. Historically, he has been the blocker-gobbler on the defensive line who stops running backs. And yet, he has taken on a far larger role on the defense this year. After all, he can play all three defensive line positions very well, and that gives the Rams defense a distinct advantage in terms of options of lining up and stunting. Until this year, that versatility has grown stale on the shelf. Brocker excels at stopping the run, so that is what he was tasked with.

But Brockers can get after the quarterback too. And he’s done exactly that this season. In many ways, this has been one of the most rewarding seasons of his career. And he has been one of the key contributors to this defense’s success. Not only does he do it on the field, but he shows incredible patience and generosity with younger teammates who benefit from his guidance and experience. And that extends beyond the practice field into game day. So who will step up for the team to fill his absence?

Who will backfill Brocker’s absence?

The most obvious player who will step onto the field this weekend in Brockers’ absence is teammate Morgan Fox. Fox is a 6-foot-3 275-pound veteran entering his fourth season for the Rams. Fox is a more streamlined version of 6-foot-5 305-pound Brockers, but he is every bit the nightmare to quarterbacks.  Where Fox will struggle is against multiple blockers who target him for a running play.

The next obvious solution in this situation would be to expand the defensive snaps for defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson. Since joining the team mid-season, he has been rather limited in his usage. But he was signed specifically to restore Brockers’ versatility to the defensive front, and this will be the ideal stage to showcase that talent. Robinson is a fireplug against the run. He has the ability to defeat multiple blockers at the point of attack. And he does it with skill. He too can line up at all three positions, giving the Rams the flexibility to give the Cardinals offense different looks.

If the Rams advance, they will get stronger quickly

Of course, the Rams have 6-foot-5 274-pound Eric Banks, 6-foot-2 287-pound Marquis Copeland, 6-foot-4 310-pound Michael Hoecht, and 6-foot-5 275-pound Jonah Williams to elevate from their practice squad roster, and they may do exactly that to ensure that they have an adequate rotational depth for both the defense and special teams’ coverage units.

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If the Rams advance to the playoffs, they will likely welcome OT Andrew Whitworth, RB Cam Akers, and now DL Michael Brockers back to the fold. The team hopes to get quarterback Jared Goff back as well. Thankfully, the team did return ILB Micah Kiser to the active roster earlier this week. It’s clear that the team will need him now.