The challenge of dealing with St. Louis’ talented defensive front seven just got a little less daunting.
News broke Wednesday afternoon that the Rams will be coming to Tampa Bay without one of their top pass rushers, defensive end Chris Long. According to the Rams’ team website, the seven-year veteran with 50.5 career sacks to his name will undergo surgery to repair an ankle he injured during St. Louis’ opening-week loss to Minnesota.
Long starts at left defensive end in St. Louis’ base 4-3 scheme, meaning Buccaneers right tackle Demar Dotson and right guard Patrick Omameh won’t be dealing with the 6-foot-3, 268-pounder out of Virginia on Sunday.
Expected to fill in during Long’s absence is William Hayes, a seventh-year player who’s been with the Rams since 2012 after spending his first four years in Tennessee. Hayes played in 14 games last year, recording 28 tackles, five sacks and one interception. Rookie Ethan Westbrooks may also see his first action as a pro. The 6-foot-4, 267-pound defensive lineman out of West Texas A&M was inactive last Sunday but is currently listed third-string left defensive end and spoke to St. Louis media this week about being excited and ready to play against Tampa Bay.
Hayes posted one tackle during the Bucs’ 23-13 loss to St. Louis last December, a game dominated by the Rams’ front seven. St. Louis sacked quarterback Mike Glennon seven times that afternoon (one courtesy of Long) and limited Tampa Bay to 170 total yards of offense.
Despite Long’s injury, the Bucs’ offensive line will still need to get a handle on the same front seven that wreaked havoc under the Edward Jones Dome last year. Right defensive end Robert Quinn’s 19 sacks in 2013 were second only to Indianapolis linebacker Robert Mathis’ 19.5, and linebackers James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree combined for 299 tackles last year.
Quinn took questions from Tampa Bay media members Wednesday afternoon and addressed Long’s surgery.
“It’s a downer,” Quinn said. “He’s a captain of our team, a great player and we’re definitely going to miss him on the field. We have been facing adversity basically since before the season started, it’s just another one we just have to overcome. We’re going to miss him on the field, we wish for a speedy recovery and like I said the other guys out there have to step up and be ready to make plays. Chris had a great backup with Will [Hayes]. I think Will is ready to fill the role and we won’t have any drop off with him out there.”
It’s the bucs. Time to make 2nd stringers into probowlers instantly!
Third string Q.B.,no Long, lose this one it’s over.
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