Defensive lineman Morgan Fox will be out for the season after suffering a knee injury last week, head coach Sean McVay confirmed on Tuesday.
"It's unfortunate because he was coming underneath on an inside move, and, really, just trying to avoid [quarterback Jared] Goff and it was kind of a non-contact injury," McVay said. "But you hate it for him."
The 23-year-old out of Colorado State-Pueblo was poised to take a significant step forward to play a key role on Los Angeles' defense in 2018. McVay had previously said Fox could be in the mix at outside linebacker based on his positional flexibility. Fox had been working with the club's first-team defense during OTAs.
"Certainly, that's a big loss for us based on some of the projections that we had and plans in mind," McVay said. "But like anything else, guys will be required to step up. And we'll see that kind of play out over the next couple weeks. And it's an exciting task for us to try to find a guy that provides the versatility that Morgan added to that 'Sam' linebacker position, making that transition."
McVay added that he was impressed with Fox's response to the injury.
"We talk about not flinching, not blinking, and he personified that exactly," McVay said. "He's going to do a great job with his rehab."
Fox was a part of the defensive rotation for Los Angeles in 2017, recording 2.5 sacks while playing primarily as a 3-4 defensive end. He also tallied two tackles for loss, three QB hits, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
This is the second significant injury to a Rams outside linebacker in the last few weeks. Aside from Fox, rookie Obo Okoronkwo suffered a foot injury that will keep him out until at least training camp.
As for who will step up at OLB, McVay noted Samson Ebukam and Matt Longacre have already shown they can play the position well. But the situation will also "provide an opportuity for some other guys to be able to step up — some of those younger players," McVay said.
"I think Samson being able to do some differnet things on that outside edge, he continues to grow every single day," McVay said. "And Matt Longacre is a guy who's played really good football for us. So those are things that we'll continue to evaluate."
But McVay brought up one more name as someone who could be in the mix: seventh-round pick Justin Lawler. The defensive lineman out of SMU has been taking snaps with the first-team defense as of late.
"And he's flashed some really good things," McVay said. "And we're looking forward to seeing, really, a lot of guys grow. But specifically he's got some chances and he's made the most of those."