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Injuries in Rams secondary could force rookie 6th round pick into starting role

Cornerbacks Shaun Jolly and Robert Rochell join the L.A. walking wounded, will Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlins be ready?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-OTA
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is getting a long look in camp
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being a sixth round pick out of TCU just four months ago, rookie cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson may need to start for the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1 due to myriad of injuries. Is he ready?

One of the hard truths about training camp that the Rams have to face is injuries both give and take away. It’s a fine line for all involved, a teams best laid plans can be set off course by the tweak of a hamstring or turn of an ankle. Players can leap up or plunge down a depth chart in one fell swoop.

Hodges-Tomlinson has already seen it go both ways in his young career. During OTAs, he was slowed with a tight hamstring and was seemingly pushed to the back of the cornerback room. Now the injury bug is biting someone else and he’s crept forward, getting looks at multiple secondary positions.

Late this past week outside corner Robert Rochell had to leave practice with an ankle injury and Shaun Jolly, backup at the “Star” position, had a tightened hamstring. Rochell was back at practice on Sunday, but there were no reports of how much action he received. L.A. hasn’t really had too bad of an injury list so far, no one has been lost for the season. But soft tissue injuries are starting to wear on the defensive backfield.

Although the injuries may end up just being the aches and pains of camp, Rochell and Jolly join fellow corners Derion Kendrick (hamstring) and Ahkello Witherspoon (broken finger) with minor ailments. Kendrick has been out for over a week and Witherspoon missed a couple of practices getting surgery and pins.

As minor as the injuries could turn out, Hodges-Tomlinson has been the recipient of reps both outside and in the slot. And he’s taken advantage of them. In his August 5 post-practice press conference, Sean McVay talked about his Round 6 rookie out of TCU.

“...What I like about him is that he just continues to compete. He’s not afraid to come up and challenge people... he’s moved around a little bit. I thought you felt his presence out there today (Saturday) and he’s definitely a competitive guy that doesn’t back down from a challenge.”

At 5’ 8” 178 lbs., Hodges-Tomlinson’s draft stock fell down to #182 because of his size. He had stellar on-field production and was the 2022 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the best defensive back in the FBS college ranks. Back on May 5, Turf Show Times’ Cliff Jackson opined on THT as the steal of the Rams draft class.

Who starts at cornerback for the Rams?

If news reports are to be believed, it appears that DeCobie Durant is the only lock in the defensive backfield, The Rams are are making full use of different groupings and rotations and it will likely take the full slate of preseason game play, controlled scrimmages, and the rest of camp to fully shake things out.

While there will be lingering questions about the youth and inexperience of the L.A. cornerback room as a group, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson has an interesting and unique skillset and now that he’s in the rotation, he may be very difficult to move out.