Rams have banged-up secondary for Chiefs
ST. LOUIS (AP) — All season, the St. Louis Rams have trusted in a young secondary. They could be really young this week.
Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are both questionable for Kansas City, and backup Brandon McGee was ruled out Friday with plantar fasciitis, a foot injury that worsened during the week.
Plans are uncertain for St. Louis (2-4), which had three rookies in the defensive backfield at times last week including nickel back Lamarcus Joyner. Rookie E.J. Gaines has been starting in place of Johnson all year, learning on the job, and undrafted Marcus Roberson could step in for Jenkins.
“We’ve got plenty of them, we’re going to line ’em up and play,” coach Jeff Fisher said Friday after practice. “Can’t tell you exactly who’s going to play right now, but they’re going to play.”
The Chiefs (3-3) appear to be a good opponent to place extra trust in the kids, since they’re ranked 30th in the NFL in passing with an average of 199.7 yards.
“I’m here now, I’m not really looking in the past,” said Roberson, who left Florida early but wasn’t taken due to injury concerns. “We’re all in the NFL, we’re professionals and we have to be ready to step up.
“There’s no excuses and that’s pretty much it.”
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has plenty of confidence in Roberson, who’s been diligent off the field.
“He’s in here and we’ve got three secondary coaches,” Williams said. “He’s a good kid, smart, tough.”
Jenkins injured his right knee in the first half of a victory over Seattle. He finished the game, but has not practiced this week.
Johnson has yet to make his season debut from a knee injury, but was a full participant Friday. He said he was ready and that there was still some stiffness the difference from this time a week earlier was “night and day.”
“With me, it’s time to go out there and make some plays and get some confidence back,” Johnson said. “It’s all good. Set to go.”
Jenkins, Johnson and safety Rodney McLeod are all in their third season, but only Jenkins has been a full-time starter throughout. Safety T.J. McDonald, who was full go Friday after missing practice Wednesday with a concussion, is in his second year.
“That’s what we’ve built our team off of, young guys that can play,” McLeod said. “That’s why they’re in this league.”
The Rams built an 18-point lead on the Super Bowl champion Seahawks and hung on to win 28-26 despite getting outgained 463 yards to 272. Seattle ran 68 plays; the Rams just 49.
“We’ve addressed that,” Fisher said. “We’ll look at doing some, maybe, possibly, some different things.”
Backup offensive lineman Tim Barnes (shoulder) hasn’t practiced all week and also was ruled out.
Kicker Greg Zuerlein (illness) did not practice but is probable. Safety T.J. McDonald, running back Benny Cunningham, wide receiver Kenny Britt, outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, guard Rodger Saffold, backup defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks and defensive end William Hayes all were full participants and probable.
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