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Countdown to Camp: Rams Poised to Have Elite Defensive Line

One week from today, the Rams will be back on the field for the first training camp practice of 2018. In this edition of Countdown to Camp, we're taking a look at the team's defensive linemen.


Newcomers: Ndamukong Suh, John Franklin-Myers, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Chunky Clements, Brian Womac, McKay Murphy

Los Angeles already had a strong defensive line, anchored by 2017 AP Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers. Now that the club's added Ndamukong Suh in free agency, the unit is undoubtedly among the league's best on paper.

Suh signed with the Rams in late March and is slated to play nose tackle between Donald and Brockers in coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme. Suh is remarkably durable, starting all 126 games for which he's been eligible since entering the league in 2010. He's recorded 51.5 sacks in his eight pro seasons — five with Detroit and the last three with Miami.

In 14 games, Donald recorded 11.0 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and two passes defensed en route to winning his first Defensive Player of the Year award. Donald was absent from Los Angeles' offseason program as the team and his representation continue to negotiate a contract extension.

Brockers is now the Rams' longest tenured defensive player, having been with the club since 2012. Phillips moved him from nose tackle to five-technique defensive end last year, and the LSU product excelled in the role. Brockers recorded 41 total tackles — eight for loss — 4.5 sacks, and eight quarterback hits in 2017.

Ethan Westbrooks returns for his fifth NFL season. He's been productive in a rotational role since arriving with the team as an undrafted free agent out of West Texas A&M in 2014. After starting the year at 3-4 defensive end, Westbrooks moved inside to nose tackle and started nine games for the club in 2017.

L.A. re-signed defensive tackle Dominique Easley in March, keeping him with the club. The former Patriots first-round pick suffered a season-ending knee injury early on in training camp and missed the entire 2017 season. Back in 2016, Easley was productive in a rotational role, recording 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for L.A.

Tanzel Smart returns for his second pro season. A sixth-round pick, Smart started four games as a rookie and made 18 total tackles.

Omarius Bryant spent 2017 on Los Angeles' practice squad and signed a futures contract to stick with the club. Chunky Clements spent much of 2017 with the Texans, going between the active roster and practice squad a few times. He signed with the Rams in May after Houston waived him in March.

As for rookies, the Rams selected John Franklin-Myers (fourth round) and Sebastian Joseph-Day (sixth round) in this spring's draft. And the club picked up Brian Womac and McKay Murphy as undrafted free agents.


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