Although the Los Angeles Rams were able to welcome one linebacker back to practice in Clay Matthews, it appears another linebacker in Bryce Hager has remained sidelined with a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 4.
His activity has largely fluctuated in practice since then and there has been plenty of speculation regarding his potential return. His health seemingly took a turn for the worse after not being able to get any work in leading up to the Rams road matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10 coming off the bye.
It appears the extra week of rest did not do Hager any favors for his recovery. In fact, it seems to have only clarified his status moving forward.
Rams LB Bryce Hager will be placed on injured reserve, Sean McVay said.
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) November 8, 2019
It is an unfortunate turn of events for Hager after he was initially presumed to be on track to making a return to the field. While he did what he could to try and make some strides in his recovery, the shoulder injury appears to still have some lingering effects.
Hager had emerged as an integral part of this Rams defense heading into the 2019 NFL season given their lack of depth in the linebacker corps.
Los Angeles finds themselves in familiar territory amidst their rash of injuries to key players throughout the 2019 campaign. They have been fortunate enough to rely on their depth and some of the younger players on their roster to step up and help fill the void in order to keep this group playing at a high level, which they certainly have over the last two games.
Hager’s absence will open the door for linebacker Troy Reeder to potentially see an increase in snaps on the inside, however, the Rams have opted to utilize safety Taylor Rapp as more of a hybrid linebacker in most packages. That likely will not change given how well the defense performed heading into the bye.
Los Angeles has a favorable matchup against a Pittsburgh offense that will be without running back James Conner. It will be interesting to see how the reps are split between Rapp and Reeder moving forward.