Under the circumstances, the St. Louis Rams got some spectacular news on cornerback Trumaine Johnson Sunday morning, as CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported that an MRI revealed a sprained MCL for the third-year cornerback, which would set his recovery timetable at roughly six weeks.
Johnson was carted off the field during Saturday night’s preseason victory over the Cleveland Browns, which obviously led to worries that he had a season-ending injury. So while a sprained MCL is not exactly something to be happy about, everyone in Rams nation is breathing a sigh of relief that he won’t be out for the year.
Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 208-pounder, is an important player for the Rams to have, especially when they’re facing big receivers who could physically outmatch guys like Janoris Jenkins or Lamarcus Joyner. In addition to providing a great size advantage, Johnson has developed nicely as a playmaker and led the Rams last year with three interceptions. As things stand now, it looks like he’ll definitely miss the first three weeks of the season and then possibly return for the Rams’ October 5 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The biggest physical mismatch for the Rams during that stretch will likely be 6-foot-5, 230-pound Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Mike Evans. Luckily, the Rams drafted former Missouri corner E.J. Gaines, who held Evans to four catches for eight yards in November of last year. Either Gaines or second-year corner Brandon McGee figures to be the replacement for Johnson, but even if McGee has the edge it may be smart to insert Gaines against Evans purely because of the massive success he had against him before.
The other domino effect of this development is that it probably forces another cornerback—likely either Marcus Roberson or Greg Reid—onto the 53-man roster, while pushing a player from another position off. The player subtracted could come from the safety position, where none of the competitors for a potential fifth safety spot—namely Matt Daniels and Christian Bryant—have done much to distinguish themselves this preseason. Reid definitely has made his mark on defense so far, though Roberson’s size at 6 feet and 191 pounds, plus the prime special teams skills that he showcased in last night’s game, probably give him the edge as of now.