The Los Angeles Rams’ new starting nose tackle may be out for part of the regular season. A’Shawn Robinson was discovered to have an undisclosed condition that gave the front office concern. During his Sunday news conference call, head coach Sean McVay said it was not too concerning, but that it would keep Robinson sidelined for some time. The Rams did not put him on injured reserve, which would meant sitting him for at least eight games. They believed the NFI (non-football injury) route was best. It left an option for Robinson to re-join the active roster sooner, although McVay is not sure when he will return.
In the meantime, the Rams will need to replace Robinson. They have two immediate fill-ins in the nose tackle depth chart, as well as, other defensive linemen that can play across different positions.
The first choice would be Sebastian Joseph-Day. Joseph-Day started at nose tackle last season in 15 games and played in all 16. He has the perfect size for the position at 6’4,” 310 pounds. Last season, he had 44 tackles and two sacks. He plays well against the run and shows good speed in the gaps. Joseph-Day is ready to start and was slated to play a reserved role after Robinson’s in the 2020 offseason. He may just get another shot at starting for an indefinite period.
The second choice would be Greg Gaines. Gaines is a true nose tackle, having played the position since college and having the physique for the position. Gaines is shorter than Joseph-Day standing at 6’1,” and weighting in at 312 pounds, but is also a good run defender. He did play in ten games last year and earned 13 tackles and half a sack. He should see some playing time again in 2020 set behind Joseph-Day.
Other possible options would be Morgan Fox or rookie Michael Hoecht. Fox has the most years of playing experience out of all the current nose tackles. He is a defensive end but has the talent to play across the line. He had 18 tackles and two sacks in 2019. Hoecht has the ideal size for the position at 6’4,” 310 pounds. At Brown, he had a career 174 tackles and 16.5 sacks. This would be unlikely, but he may get a chance to play depending on where he lands on the depth chart.
Barring any unforeseen reasons or injuries, Joseph-Day and Gaines will be the likely understudies to start in Robinson’s place. Robinson has a career 172 tackles (16 for a loss), five sacks, 16 passes defended, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. The Rams want him back sooner than later for the 2020 season, but are ready with talent in reserve.