The defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams will be without another one of their stars Sunday afternoon when they host the Seattle Seahawks.
Seven-time All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald will miss a game because of injury for the first time in his nine-year career. Donald sustained a high ankle sprain last week, coach Sean McVay said.
“So much of (the defense) is built around him,” McVay said. “He is truly one of one. You don’t replace anybody like him. Guys will be asked to step up, (and we) have confidence in those guys, but I think Aaron’s resume speaks for itself — the way that he works, the way that he brings others with him — so it’s a huge loss.”
The Rams (3-8) have lost five in a row, are already without wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson, the offensive line is banged up, and quarterback Matthew Stafford remains in the concussion protocol after missing two of the past three games. McVay said Wednesday it was “safe to say” Stafford would miss the game.
In last week’s 26-10 loss at Kansas City, the Rams managed just 198 yards of total offense behind backup quarterback Bryce Perkins.
Their offense has dropped to 31st in the NFL with 279.8 yards per game, less than a yard ahead of last-place Houston.
“We are trying to compete to get the results that we want, but man, it certainly has been something that I don’t think anybody could have ever predicted,” said McVay, who indicated that Perkins and John Wolford might both play against Seattle. “I mean, when it rains, it pours.”
In addition, the Rams have practiced this week without running back Cam Akers (illness), wide receiver Lance McCutcheon (shoulder), offensive guard Oday Aboushi (illness) and linebackers Travin Howard (hip), Ernest Jones (back) and Terrell Lewis (back).
The Seahawks (6-5) have lost their past two games to drop a game behind San Francisco in the NFC West.
Seattle was overrun in a 40-34 overtime loss to Las Vegas last week, giving up a franchise-record 283 yards rushing — including Josh Jacobs’ game-ending 86-yard bolt up the middle.
The Seahawks have allowed at least 150 yards rushing in each of their five losses this season, and in none of their six wins.
“We didn’t come out of the bye as sharp as we would like to,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, whose team got the break in the schedule after a 21-16 loss to Tampa Bay on Nov. 13 in Munich, Germany, before facing the Raiders. “I have no idea if that had to do with the bye or not, but we just didn’t play well enough up front and that’s where our focus will be here.”
The Seahawks gave up 161 yards rushing to the Buccaneers, who entered that game with one of the league’s poorest rushing attacks.
“We have to fix it. Everybody’s going to expose it if we don’t fix it,” Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs said. “We fixed it for a little bit. It showed its head (last Sunday). … If we don’t stop the run, we’re not going to be able to do anything. It starts with everybody.”
The Seahawks have had four players miss practice time with illnesses this week — offensive guards Phil Haynes and Damien Lewis, nose tackle Al Woods and running back Travis Homer, who is also dealing with a knee issue — along with linebacker Bruce Irvin (knee) and safety Ryan Neal (elbow/shoulder).