The Los Angeles Rams will have to persevere through their difficult late-season schedule without one of their defensive leaders.
Linebacker Connor Barwin had surgery on Monday to repair a broken left forearm, Rams head coach Sean McVay announced.
Barwin had a plate inserted into his arm to aid healing. He will be out “a couple weeks,” according to McVay, likely sidelining him when the Philadelphia Eagles visit the Rams on Dec. 10.
Philadelphia released Barwin in March after four seasons with the team. He landed in Los Angeles as a free agent and quickly became a key contributor to the new defense run by Rams coordinator Wade Phillips, who had previously coached Barwin in Houston.
“He’s a tough guy,” McVay said at the Rams’ training complex. “He’ll be ready to go sooner than later. I would be willing to bet on Connor.”
Barwin’s injury was a sobering development for Los Angeles (8-3) after an otherwise outstanding victory over fellow NFC division leader New Orleans. The Rams’ 26-20 win put them in prime position for their first playoff spot since 2004.
Barwin has started all 11 games for the Rams this season, recording four sacks and 25 tackles. He also provided valuable leadership for his mostly younger teammates, who voted him a team captain in his first year with the club.
“You lose a lot,” McVay said. “You not only lose a very productive player, but what he’s demonstrated as one of those guys in the locker room. You look at a guy that’s been brought in here, his first year, being voted as a captain by his teammates. That says a lot about the type of person he is, the way he goes about his business.”
Rookie Samson Ebukam will start in Barwin’s place when the Rams visit the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Ebukam, a fourth-round pick out of Eastern Washington, has made two sacks — including one against the Saints — and a fumble recovery while playing as a backup linebacker and on special teams for Los Angeles.
McVay described Barwin as “a huge influence” on Ebukam.
“(Ebukam) shows up on the film both in special teams and defense, and he’s a guy we feel like has a bright future for us,” McVay said.
Although Barwin is out, the Rams expect cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman to return on Sunday after missing last weekend’s game with a thigh injury.