St. Louis Rams Expected to be Without CB E.J. Gaines in Season Finale


The St. Louis Rams will likely be without perhaps their most consistent defensive performer of 2014 on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Rookie cornerback E.J. Gaines is expected to miss the Rams’ season finale after missing practice all week and being listed as ‘doubtful’ on Friday’s injury report.

Gaines, who suffered a concussion and lacerated lip in last Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, is fourth on the team and first among the cornerbacks with 70 total tackles. He also has two interceptions, neither of which have been returned for any yardage. While his numbers don’t exactly jump off the stat sheet, his greatest value is in his superb coverage, which has been the one constant among a Rams pass defense that has had some real struggles at times this year.

The sixth-rounder surprisingly emerged as a Week 1 starter after projected starter Trumaine Johnson and second-year backup Brandon McGee went down with injuries during the preseason. He stuck in the starting lineup through the next 15 games, eventually pushing Johnson down to third on the depth chart upon his return.

With Gaines expected to miss Sunday’s game, two little bits of irony will occur. First of all, the Rams will end up using their original projected starting corner duo, Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins, as their primary two corners for the first time all season. (In fairness, Johnson has started five of seven games since his return as a third cornerback.)

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In addition, rookie second-rounder Lamarcus Joyner, who was drafted to be an impact player at the nickelback position, should see his first significant action since the Rams’ ninth game of the year at Arizona, when his injury coincided with Jenkins’ return to the lineup following an injury. With Gaines taking over the nickelback position when necessary with Jenkins and Johnson handling the outside, Joyner went on to become a healthy scratch for two games, though he did return to the lineup last week and saw some snaps from scrimmage after Gaines left the game.

Head coach Jeff Fisher also mentioned the possibility on Friday that another rookie cornerback, Marcus Roberson, could get some playing time against Seattle. The undrafted rookie, who began the season contributing to the Rams’ special teams units, started two games in Kansas City and San Francisco before suffering an injury which ended up resulting in his removal from the 46-man gameday roster once he returned to health. Fisher said that Roberson, who has missed the past seven games, could work both from the slot or the outside on Sunday. However, he mentioned that safety Rodney McLeod could see action as the nickelback, which probably reduces the possibility that Roberson will actually get any snaps from scrimmage.

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