Rams flashing plenty in reserve along dominant defensive front

With Chris Long sidelined by a knee injury, replacements William Hayes and Ethan Westbrooks supplied three sacks.
Michael Thomas/Getty Images

The St. Louis Rams have one of the best defensive lines in the game and it goes beyond the starting front four.

The Rams' impressive depth along the defensive front was among the strong points during Sunday's 24-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns, nary missing a beat despite the absence of former No. 2 overall draft pick Chris Long due to a hyperextended knee.

William Hayes earned the start in place of Long and registered two of St. Louis' four sacks while forcing a pair of fumbles that led to 10 points.

“He’s playing very consistent (against) the run,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said of Hayes, who played for Fisher with the Tennessee Titans. “Good pass-rush. Good pressure collapsing the pocket for us. We got good pressure on (Browns quarterback) Josh (McCown) today.”

When Hayes needed a breather, Ethan Westbrooks came in and recorded his first NFL sack. Westbrooks, an undrafted free agent from West Texas A&M, was the player who beat out Michael Sam for the final slot on the defensive line in 2014. 

“I felt like we made Chris real proud today,” Westbrooks told reporters after the game. “I know he’s hungry to get back in it. I’m just trying to fill the hole wherever I can and do my job.”

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