The Los Angeles Rams defense was expected to take a major step back in 2023 as they promoted several second-year players and rookies to starting roles.
Without the big-name stars to lead the defense, some predicted the Rams would struggle to slow down the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1. Seattle boasts a dynamic receiving duo in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett plus a strong running back in Kenneth Walker III.
However, the Rams proved they could rise to the challenge as they held the Seahawks to just 12 yards of total offense in the second half. It was a dominant performance and one that lends optimism that the unit could be better than anticipated.
Byron Young and Kobie Turner flashed in their professional debuts up front and Raheem Morris had praise for the rookies, via Stu Jackson of TheRams.com:
“It’s just a really good way to start off coaching young guys,” Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said of Young and nose tackle Kobie Turner’s performances. “Their effort, their energy that they brought, the juice, going out there and being able to finish that game like we kind of had hoped with Aaron Donald being the catalyst as a rusher. Those guys being able to rush off him and play off of him, it was a really good look for us.”
During the preseason, L.A.’s pass rush left much to be desired as they were unable to generate much pressure on quarterbacks. However, both Young and Turner were able to cause some havoc on passing downs and even came up with half sacks each on Geno Smith near the end of the fourth quarter.
Young, in particular ,has worked his way up from reserve to starter and is flashing an intriguing mix of speed and power on his rushes. As for Turner, he’s filling in the gaps well next to Aaron Donald and should be in line for more snaps.
As with any young roster, there will be plenty of growing pains but so far Young and Turner look like two pieces for the long-term.
Steve Avila enjoyed getting first NFL start
Young and Turner weren’t the only ones getting their first NFL starts as Steve Avila got the honor of starting at left guard. Avila held up well in his first professional game and he later expressed how much he enjoyed getting starting snaps.