The Rams will be without their second-best best defensive player for their “Monday Night Football” matchup against the Cardinals in Week 14.
Los Angeles’ top cornerback, Jalen Ramsey, won’t suit up for the divisional clash. He was a late scratch Monday afternoon.
The Rams have now lost five players — and four starters — in the lead-up to the game in Arizona. That should give the Cardinals a big advantage as they look to take a commanding lead in the NFC West.
Why isn’t Ramsey playing on Monday night? Here’s the latest on his absence and how the Rams might look to replace him and their other missing pieces.
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Why isn’t Jalen Ramsey playing vs. Cardinals?
Jalen Ramsey isn’t playing because he tested positive for COVID-19 before the game. So did top tight end Tyler Higbee, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.
Rams placed CB Jalen Ramsey and TE Tyler Higbee on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Both players out of tonight’s game vs. Cardinals.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 13, 2021
Ramsey and Higbee were placed on the reserve/COVID list after testing positive. That knocked them out of Monday night’s game and made them questionable for the Rams’ Week 15 tilt with the Seahawks.
If Ramsey and Higbee are vaccinated, then they will have to be asymptomatic and test negative for COVID twice no less than 24 hours apart to be eligible to play against Seattle. If they are unvaccinated, then they will be ineligible to play.
It appears Higbee’s test may have been a false positive as he had two negative tests following his initial positive test. If his PCR test comes back negative, then he can return to the team Tuesday, per Schefter. He’s out Monday regardless.
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Rams’ cornerback depth chart
The Rams will miss Ramsey greatly. He is their best defensive back and second-best defensive player, behind only Aaron Donald. Ramsey has posted 59 tackles, 11 pass defenses, three interceptions and a forced fumble in 12 games this season while playing 94 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. Only safety Taylor Rapp has played more.
The Rams will be without several cornerbacks, in fact. They placed Robert Rochell on injured reserve Saturday while Donte Deayon landed on the COVID list before Ramsey did. Darious Williams and David Long are the only cornerbacks on the active roster who have played defensive snaps this year. The Rams will have to rely on their special teams depth and safety depth to help fill in at the position.
Pending practice squad call-ups, this is how the Rams’ cornerback depth chart will look:
- Darious Williams
- David Long
- Tyler Hall*
- Grant Haley*
* Denotes practice squad player.
Expect Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals to test this group early to see if they can exploit any weaknesses.
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Rams’ tight end depth chart
Higbee’s absence will also be problematic for the Rams. They’re short-handed at tight end, as well. Top backup Johnny Mundt is out for the year with a torn ACL and special teamer Jacob Harris is on injured reserve. Kendall Blanton and Brycen Hopkins, who have combined to play 52 offensive snaps this year, will play the bulk of the game.
Blanton has played more snaps than Hopkins, so this is how the Rams’ tight end depth chart will look with Higbee out, depending on practice squad call-ups.
- Kendall Blanton
- Brycen Hopkins
- Jared Pinckney*
* Denotes practice squad player.
Given the group’s lack of experience, don’t be surprised if Sean McVay goes more receiver-heavy than usual Monday night.
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Rams’ reserve/COVID list
The Rams have five players on their reserve/COVID list:
- RB Darrell Henderson
- OT Rob Havenstein
- CB Donte Deayon
- CB Jalen Ramsey
- TE Tyler Higbee
Havenstein, Henderson, Higbee and Ramsey are key starters and Deayon has played a key role in nickel packages. Their absences will make it tough for the Rams to do battle with the 10-2 Cardinals, who sport the NFL’s best record.