When safety Jordan Fuller suffered a shoulder injury early in last Sunday's loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Rams' secondary was without one of its emerging, productive young players.
Challenging as Fuller's absence was, Los Angeles defensive coordinator Brandon Staley was not worried about the next men up in the rotation.
"Anytime you lose a player like Jordan, it stings," Staley said during a video conference with reporters Wednesday. "But we have full confidence in those guys to play equally good football. E.J. (Ejiro) Evero does a great job coaching those guys."
Taylor Rapp is one of those players.
The second-year safety stepped in for the injured Fuller and logged eight total tackles, tied with cornerback Troy Hill and safety John Johnson III for most on the defense last week, while playing 89 percent of L.A.'s defensive snaps.
Staley is also confident in the players that don't have the experience of Rapp, who started in 10 of 16 games as a rookie last year, or Johnson, who has started 35 games in three-plus seasons – players like rookie Terrell Burgess. Burgess chipped in one tackle playing 15 percent of the defensive snaps.
"We're fortunate, we've got safeties that are interchangeable and they can do a lot of the same things," Staley said. "So we felt very comfortable moving forward with Taylor, and then Terrell stepping in as well. J.J., we know how he is, with his command, his versatility."
Defensive lineman Michael Brockers agreed that losing a player like Fuller hurts, but it's the responsibility of the entire defense – not just one player – to ensure proper communication.
"Definitely, you hate to lose a guy like that, that starts and that's playing very well, but ultimately we have guys that back him up, know how to play this game, and have real game reps," Brockers said. "So I didn't really focus on it, I didn't really even feel it to be honest with you. I just know defensively that we have to be on the same page if we want to get things done."
That synchronization will be pivotal against a Giants offense with two passing targets who can stretch the field vertically with ease in wide receiver Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram, two players with double-digit, yards-per-reception averages in their careers.
Fuller has been praised for his ability to "run the show," as Staley likes to say regarding a safety's responsibilities within the Rams' defense. While Rams head coach Sean McVay doesn't expect Fuller to miss Sunday's game against the Giants, should his status change, Staley and the rest of the secondary will be comfortable with their options.
"It's a next-man-up league, no doubt about it," Johnson said during his postgame video conference last Sunday. "I mean, Taylor prepares like a starter all the time. It is a little different that first play, getting back into the swing of things, but in this league, we can't make any excuses about it."