Every team in the NFL uses a simple motto for dealing with injuries: "next man up."
When it comes to Los Angeles' cornerbacks, that cliché seemed to echo off the walls of the Rams' locker room on Tuesday.
With Aqib Talib placed on injured reserve on Wednesday and cornerback Marcus Peters questionable for Thursday's contest agains the Vikings, the spotlight will be on a few Rams to step up in their place.
If there is a silver lining, the Rams do have depth at corner — though that will certainly be tested. And as head coach Sean McVay pointed out earlier this week, each one of Sam Shields, Nickell Robey-Coleman, and Troy Hill has significant starting experience — either with L.A. or on another team in the league.
It's part of why defensive coordinator Wade Phillips feels comfortable inserting Shields and Hill into a game. Both showed that they can perform well even without the benefit of a true week of practice last Sunday against the Chargers.
"It was good that Sam and Troy were ready to play. It says a lot for those two guys. They were ready to come in the game even though they weren't starting," Phillips said. "Yeah, it's a challenge any time your second team people are in there, but we have a lot of confidence in those guys. We can call the same calls with those guys. In fact, we did in the ball game."
That Shields, Hill, and Robey-Coleman have all been around one another since the start of the offseason program aids in that endeavor. Each player knows how the other moves around on the field, which is critical in pass defense.
"We've already put in work this offseason," Robey-Coleman said. "We've been out there working together."
"I'm starting to learn when you play with different personalities, it does change you as a true post defender — just knowing guys' style, knowing what kind of chances they're going to take," safety Lamarcus Joyner said. "So it does change me personally, just knowing that I've got those guys in and knowing their personalities on the football field. So I've played with Troy for three years now, and I'm pretty familiar with Sam from OTAs and everything. So I'm definitely comfortable."
For Shields, Thursday will likely be his first start since 2016, when he played in Week 1 for the Packers. After suffering a concussion in that game, Shields was out for all of 2016 and 2017 before signing with L.A. in March.
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"It's just something to show. A lot of people still want to know, 'Is he alright?' Things like that," Shields said. "So for me, it's just kind of to show the people that I've still got it. I can still do it. That's about it."
Shields, Hill, and Robey-Coleman all realize that the Vikings will likely go after them on Thursday night. But because of their experience, they're not feeling extra pressure.
"That's part of the game. Backups? You've got to go at them," Shields said. "But we're ready for it. We've prepared."
"I've been here before," Hill said. "So it's an exciting thing — just go out there and do what I've been doing, like last year in the playoffs. I've been here before, so I'm not really feeling no type of pressure. Just go out there and do what I've been doing."
So even though the Rams will certainly miss Talib and Peters, the club has confidence that its second unit will be able to hold up well against strong competition.
"Peters and Talib — unfortunately they're out right now. But hope those guys get well soon," Robey-Coleman said. "But for the most part, we've got the guys that's here. It's next-man-up type of deal. And we're ready. We're up for the challenge. Every week there's going to be new challenges and this is one of the challenges we're up to."
"Hopefully, these guys will step up and come close to what those guys can do, but those two are great players," Phillips said. "Hopefully, these guys will play great and I have confidence they'll play really well."