Barwin Out with Forearm Injury, Ebukam to Start at OLB

The Rams will be without outside linebacker Connor Barwin for a bit, as the captain suffered a forearm fracture that will keep him out for a couple weeks.

According to head coach Sean McVay, Barwin had surgery Monday morning, and had a plate inserted into his forearm to correct the issue.

"Really, as opposed to the injury, it's more along the lines of letting that wound actually heal from an infection standpoint," McVay said. "And you know if anybody's going to do it the right way in terms of taking care of himself and getting ready to go sooner than later, it'll be Connor."

In his first year with the franchise, Barwin has started all 11 of the Rams' games, making 4.0 sacks in the process. Barwin is in his ninth pro season, having spent four years with the Texans and four years with the Eagles. As such, he's been a particularly valuable veteran presence on Los Angeles' defensive unit.

Check out the best photos from the Los Angeles Rams' 26-20 win over the New Orleans Saints.

"You lose a lot," McVay said of having Barwin out. "You look at a guy who's been brought in here his first year, being voted as a captain by his teammates — that says a lot about the type of person he is, the way he goes about his business."

Rookie outside linebacker Samson Ebukam has played at Barwin's spot in the defensive rotation throughout the season. McVay said Barwin has been "a true mentor" to the rookie out of Eastern Washington, helping Ebukam come along over the last few weeks.

"I think he's been a huge influence on Samson in a positive way," McVay said.

That will be as important as ever now that Ebukam will be starting in Barwin's stead while the veteran OLB recovers. Ebukam recorded his second sack on Sunday, a play McVay described while extolling the rookie's attributes on Monday.

"Samson will start — he'll be our 'SAM' linebacker, he'll fill that void," McVay said. "He's a player with some great explosion. He plays with good length. He's continuing to understand the nuances of the system and what he's being asked to do, both in our base package and our 'Dime' package, where he's in a four-down [linemen]-rush mentality and mindset as opposed to the 3-4 where you're doing some things coverage wise, you're rushing off the edge, setting the edge in the run game. So, I think he's demonstrated that growth.

"But I think when you look at the sack he made yesterday, [he did a] great job working his hands to counter, the length [he has] to be able to extend and drive the tackle back in, and to be able to finish that play was a big-time deal," McVay added. "He's shows up on the film both on special teams and defense, and he's a guy that we feel like has a bright future for us."

But there will be a ripple effect in terms of Los Angeles' personnel. With Ebukam playing more defense, he'll be on the field for fewer special teams snaps. On Sunday, for instance, Ebukam played 40 percent of the defensive snaps and 52 percent of the time on special teams.

As it is with every team, Ebukam will fill the next-man-up role. And as McVay said, that will give more players a chance to step up and show what they're able to do in Barwin's absence.

"[B]ecause of the void that it does create with Samson and what a good job he's done on special teams, now somebody else has to step up," McVay said. "So that's the exciting thing is it'll present new opportunities for guys, and we'll look forward to getting Connor back sooner than later."

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