The St. Louis Rams got an outstanding defensive performance from a 2014 first-round pick to post an impressive opening victory.
Their offense may get a boost since the player they drafted in the first round this year may be ready.
Todd Gurley could make his debut following knee surgery on Sunday, when the Rams travel to face a Washington Redskins team they dominated a season ago.
One of the signature Week 1 victories was posted by St. Louis, which won 34-31 in overtime at home over Seattle last Sunday. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the 13th overall pick in 2014, had two of the Rams’ six sacks of Russell Wilson and also was part of a strong effort that limited Marshawn Lynch to 73 yards.
Donald, named NFC defensive player of the week, and Michael Brockers combined to stop Lynch on fourth-and-1 on the game’s final play.
"Aaron, that was really one of the best games I’ve seen a defensive tackle play," coach Jeff Fisher said.
The Rams prevailed despite a rushing attack that averaged 2.92 yards per carry for the NFL’s third-worst mark. Benny Cunningham started and had 45 yards rushing and 77 receiving, with Gurley and Tre Mason both out.
Those two could return and the spotlight will be on Gurley, the first running back chosen in the first round in three years and 10th overall in 2015. Gurley took snaps with the first-string offense for the first time Tuesday.
"We’ll see how he does," Fisher said. "But this is a medical decision, a trainers’ decision, a collective decision."
Mason, out with a hamstring injury, also worked with the starters Tuesday.
Wide receiver Brian Quick could also make his season debut after career-threatening shoulder surgery. Quick had 25 catches with a 15-yard average in seven games last year.
"I’ve got to work my way in slowly because I missed a lot of football," Quick said. "There can’t be any ifs."
The addition of several weapons would boost Nick Foles, who was 18 of 27 for 297 yards and one touchdown in his Rams debut. Foles, whose 11.00 yards-per-attempt figure was the league’s second-best mark, went 2-2 as a starter against Washington with Philadelphia.
St. Louis dominated Washington in a 24-0 victory Dec. 7, sacking Redskins quarterbacks seven times and recording two interceptions. Brockers was one of six Rams to take part in the coin toss who were drafted as a result of the deal that allowed the Redskins to move up to No. 2 overall to select Robert Griffin III in 2012.
"I will always be remembered as (being a part of) that blockbuster trade," Brockers said. "And, you know, the Rams won. The Rams won that one."
Griffin was inactive last weekend with Colt McCoy serving as the backup to Kirk Cousins in a 17-10 home defeat to Miami. Cousins was 21 of 31 for 196 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
That loss proved costly when one of Foles’ former Eagles targets, DeSean Jackson, strained his left hamstring. Jackson could miss three to four weeks.
"You hate to lose a star, especially with his speed," coach Jay Gruden said. "We feel good about the receivers that take his place, but nobody can substitute him for that burning speed that gets downfield and scares safeties and corners to death."
Alfred Morris rushed for 121 yards for the Redskins, who built an early 10-point lead and led by three in the fourth quarter.
The Redskins released kicker Kai Forbath and signed Dustin Hopkins to replace him in an attempt to improve the team’s kickoffs. Forbath made a 45-yard field goal, missed a 46-yarder and had only one of his three kickoffs go for a touchback.
"We’re not making Kai a scapegoat," Gruden said. "That’s insane. What we’re trying to do is improve our kickoff cover team and we’re trying a young kicker who worked out here extremely well today."
The Rams have a major weapon in Tavon Austin, who ran a punt back for a score for the third time in his career last weekend with a 75-yard TD. He also had a 16-yard rushing score.
Washington allowed a 78-yard punt-return score last year to Austin and gave up a 69-yard punt TD last week to Miami.
"Tavon took one back last year, we all know that," Gruden said. "He took one back last week. He’s a dangerous player."
St. Louis will be without special teams ace Chase Reynolds and defensive end Eugene Sims, who have knee injuries.
Washington safety Duke Ihenacho will need surgery to repair a fractured and dislocated left wrist. Cornerback Chris Culliver has been suspended by the NFL for this game for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.