THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Rams OLB Clay Matthews will miss at least 4-6 weeks with a broken jaw, leaving big shoes to fill in the pass rush.
His expected replacement for the time being, fellow linebacker Samson Ebukam, embraces the challenge.
"I'm going to do my best to keep the seat warm for him, though, because I know what kind of an impact player that he is," Ebukam said. "Definitely try to do my best just to live up to his reputation."
Matthews, a six-time Pro Bowler and former First Team All-Pro selection in 10-plus NFL seasons, had accumulated a team-high six sacks, plus 19 total tackles and two forced fumbles prior to the freak accident of an injury against the Seahawks last week.
While that stature is built upon lots of experience, it's not like Ebukam is lacking any.
In two-plus seasons, he has appeared in 37 out of a possible 37 regular season games since being drafted by the Rams in 2017. Last year, he played in all 16 games, starting in 14 of them and posting a career-high 39 tackles and three sacks in the process."He’s played a lot of important snaps for us," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "He’s a guy that we have a lot of confidence in."
"He’s played a lot of important snaps for us," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "He’s a guy that we have a lot of confidence in."
While Ebukam has been in a reserve role this year, he had no complaints about playing behind Matthews.
"I mean, you just got to take it like it is," Ebukam said. "That's a future Hall of Famer that they put in front of you, so I'm not going to sit here and question it because he's been eating on the field. I just want to do that whenever I get the chance."
He's proven he has the ability to when those opportunities come his way.
Within that career-best season in 2018 game a career game for Ebukam. In the Rams' 54-51 win over the Chiefs, he returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns.
However, much like Matthews' reputation, Ebukam wants his to stretch beyond just one game.
"Yeah, quite a lot," said Ebukam, when asked if fans bring that game up often when they run into him. "I understand why. In my mindset, that's last year and this year's new. Got to be able to do that on a regular basis."
His teammates are confident he's capable of doing so.
"You're not going to be able to place a guy like (Matthews), but Samson's played a lot of football," Rams safety Eric Weddle said. "We'll be fine. Next man up."
While he took advantage of the time off players and coaches had over the weekend, it's evident that what Matthews means to this defense isn't lost on Ebukam.
What's also evident is that he'll be ready.
"I just kind of relaxed, reset my mind and everything," Ebukam said. "Knowing that Clay's down and that my role is going to expand, I just leave everything up to God, man, you know? I'm just going to go out there, have fun and play like I always play, and everything will work out in the end I believe."