The LA Rams have played the best football in the NFC West, by far, and they’ve also got the NFL’s best point differential through three weeks by a wide margin. They looked like the league’s best team on paper headed into the season and they’ve played like it; but in this sport, the paper can change quickly.
In the Rams’ win over the LA Chargers on Sunday, they took two major blows to the secondary: CB Aqib Talib has a high ankle sprain that could require surgery, while CB Marcus Peters has a calf strain that is expected to cause him to miss 2-4 weeks. Those injuries all but guarantee that LA will be using backups at both corner positions when they face the Seattle Seahawks on October 7.
Surgery means this is the severest of high ankle sprains with ligament tear without associated fracture. Could easily mean season, chance of IR with late season return. https://t.co/kOfTXSXJpg— David J. Chao, MD (@ProFootballDoc) September 25, 2018
#Rams CB Marcus Peters is believed to have suffered a calf strain that could put him out for 2-4 weeks, I’m told. His MRI to confirm is this morning, but the initial tests show no structural damage.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 24, 2018
The Rams corner who will undoubtedly take over is veteran Sam Shields, who signed as a free agent after seven years with the Green Bay Packers but missed virtually all of 2016 and 2017. Shields has two pass deflections and an interception in three games this season. He started 40 games for the Packers from his 2013-2015 seasons but he suffered his fourth known career concussion in 2016 and was released by Green Bay in 2017.
The team will then look to Nickel Robey-Coleman, Troy Hill, and then eventually the free agent and trade market.
Los Angeles is already without kicker Greg Zeurlein for multiple weeks with a groin injury. Replacement Sam Ficken is 0-for-1 on field goal attempts, having missed from 46 against the Chargers. They have also played all season without starting inside linebacker Mark Barron, who has an ankle injury. The Rams play the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night, giving those players a few extra days rest before heading to Seattle in Week 5 to take on the Seahawks.
Those Rams will look notably different on paper than the one we would have expected two days ago. That doesn’t mean they’ll be significantly worse off — LA is still first in scoring defense in 2018 — but they will be different.