The Los Angeles Rams know that 2023 will be a bit of a struggle defensively as they will be trying to incorporate several inexperienced players at key positions.
While Aaron Donald remains a force up front, he might have little help generating pressure on the edge as the Rams look incredibly light at outside linebacker. After letting go of Leonard Floyd, Los Angeles will walk into the new season trotting out a rotation of Michael Hoecht, Daniel Hardy and Byron Young, among others at the position.
In order to bolster their depth, the Rams took a swing on edge rusher Ochaun Mathis in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Mathis is an athletic marvel with the physical tools and traits to become a real impact player, though he remains raw with his technique and could stand to gain more weight and muscle on his frame.
Mathis looks like a promising prospect, but it looks like he’s going to be on the shelf for a while after Sean McVay announced he would miss a few weeks after hurting his knee in practice, via Stu Jackson of TheRams.com:
Other Rams injury updates from Sean McVay:
Rookie OLB Ochaun Mathis “tweaked his knee” and will probably be out “for a few weeks.”
WR Ben Skowronek was held out of today’s practice due to back soreness.
— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 2, 2023
It’s unfortunate timing for the Nebraska product as the Rams are slated to play their first preseason game next week against the Los Angeles Chargers. Mathis would’ve gotten some valuable game reps probably on both the defense and special teams, but now will need to focus on resting and recovering.
Injuries weren’t kind to Los Angeles in 2022 and it’s worrisome that some of their young players are already dealing with ailments and missing time. Hopefully Mathis is able to come back sooner rather than later, but for now the Rams will need to make due with an even thinner linebacker room.
Derion Kendrick making good progress from hamstring injury
Aside from the pass rush, the secondary will also be undergoing some major changes as young players like Derion Kendrick are expected to step up and compete for a starting role. Kendrick showed flashes in his rookie year and looks like a prime candidate to take a leap.
However, he suffered his own setback with a hamstring injury though McVay said that he’s making good progress and should be able to come back soon.