Despite the chaos often caused on the defensive front by Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers, the Los Angeles Rams have struggled to tally sacks through the first six weeks of the 2018 NFL season. In fact, eight of the teams 12 sacks (ranking 22nd) have come from the aforementioned trio. And while it’s difficult to nitpick an undefeated team, it’s fair to say they need, and should expect, more from their outside pass rushers.
They may soon get some help in that regard. Rams’ 2018 5th round pick (160th overall) Ogbonnia Okoronkwo returned to practice this week. He started the year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list after having foot surgery in May. NFL rules dictate a player starting the season on the PUP list cannot play or practice during the first six weeks of the NFL season.
It’s great news for the Rams, who could obviously use some juice at EDGE. That said, don’t expect to see him suiting up in Week 7 in San Francisco. Rams’ defensive coordinator Wade Phillips touched on the matter in Thursday’s presser:
Yes, he’s practicing now. He’s got 21 days, I think, to see where he is. We haven’t seen him that much in practice yet. We’re hopeful that he’ll do well. He wouldn’t be ready to play this week for sure.
Players designated to the PUP list are allowed to do conditioning work during the first six weeks of the season, but are prohibited from practicing with the team; so they’ll continue to monitor the foot as he now takes part in live sessions. Phillips mentioned “21 days,” which is the amount of time the Rams will now have to make a decision on his status for the remainder of the season. At the end of that three week window, they have three options:
- Activate him to the 53-man roster (ideal)
- Leave him on the PUP list (not ideal)
- Release/waive him (not happening)
By rule, teams have an additional six weeks (on top of the first six weeks of the regular season) to allow a player to start practicing — so it’s a good sign that Okoronkwo is out there already.
Stay tuned. A player that many deemed a steal in this year’s draft may soon give a very solid Rams’ defense a much-needed boost as they head into the back half of the season.