Heading into Week 6 of the regular season, the Los Angeles Rams are progressively becoming an injury-ridden team on the defensive side of the ball.
In Sunday's 30-19 loss against the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles had another starter suffer an injury when cornerback Trumaine Johnson went down late in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury that forced him out of the game. He was helped off the field while putting no weight on the ankle. Johnson was also seen after the game wearing a walking boot.
In light of that, head coach Jeff Fisher has already ruled out the 26-year-old ahead of this week's matchup on the road against the Detroit Lions and did not disclose the severity of the injury.
"He’s probably not going to go this week," Fisher said. "It’ll be week-to-week.”
He has been a safety valve for the Rams' secondary as the top option at cornerback while being fourth on the team with 25 tackles, leading the league with nine pass deflections, and recording one interception. Undrafted rookie Troy Hill, who is currently fifth on the team with 19 tackles, will get the call to man Johnson's spot and E.J. Gaines will assume the other starter vacancy.
“Troy (Hill) steps up like he did in the game," Fisher said. "I can sleep at night knowing that E.J. (Gaines) is back and playing good.”
With the departure of longtime starter Janoris Jenkins via free agency and Gaines beginning the season on the sideline, it provided an opportunity for Hill to grab a significant role with the team where he has displayed that he can be more than a serviceable option. Through the first five games of the season, the coaching staff has been encouraged by the play of the 25-year-old in his first campaign.
“He understands what we’re doing and he can really run and he has got ball skills," Fisher said. "Even though he’s a little slight, he’s a run-support guy. The good thing about both of them is that they can elevate at the ball. They might be 5-10, 5-11, but they can play taller because they can elevate and get the ball.”
Los Angeles also decided to add depth at the position on Tuesday acquiring cornerback Dwayne Gratz off the waiver wire after Jacksonville Jaguars parted ways with him the day before. Gratz was selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Jaguars after a productive collegiate career that included being a two-time All-Big East second team honoree.
The former UConn product had compiled 119 tackles and three interceptions since entering the league. His sudden availability was a pleasant surprise for Fisher looking to address a pressing need in the secondary.
"We were really surprised, we were doing our homework with the potential with Trumaine’s injury and the lack of depth there," Fisher said. "I liked him coming out of Connecticut. Great, great young man, really smart, a team guy. I think he was a little caught off guard by the release. Yeah, he’ll be here in the morning and we’re get him coached up as quick as we can to play special teams – he played predominately inside for them the last year and a half, but has the skills to play outside.
"We were really excited about being awarded the claim. He’s familiar with London, that’s the last place he played, so he’s going back. I didn’t have to ask him if he had a passport or not.”