IRVINE, Calif. -- Dominique Easley, the former first-round pick who projects to be a starter on the Los Angeles Rams' defensive line, had to be carted off the field after he sustained a knee injury during the team's first padded practice on Tuesday.
Rams head coach Sean McVay didn't have immediate word on the severity of the injury, but Easley was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Tuesday night. Easley has a long history of devastating knee injuries, which prompted concern throughout the organization that his latest setback could be a significant one.
"We'll have an update on that later," McVay said after a practice that was cut about 15 minutes short because of nearby lightning. "He's going to get examined, and we're going to find out more specifically on what's going on with him."
Easley tore the ACL in each of his knees while at Florida, the left in 2011 and the right in '13. Then he ended the 2014 and '15 seasons with the Patriots on injured reserve, first with an injured knee and then with an injured thigh.
The Rams picked Easley up after he was released in April 2016 and watched him turn in a very productive season as a backup last season. Easley posted a career-high 3 1/2 sacks and was graded 30th among 125 qualified interior defenders by Pro Football Focus. With William Hayes gone, Easley was set to start on a defensive line that included Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald. Now only Brockers remains.
Easley, who struggled to put weight on his right leg after hurting himself during an 11-on-11 drill, could miss time. Donald, the game's best interior pass-rusher, is holding out while hoping for a restructured contract. Behind them on the depth chart, it seems, are Ethan Westbrooks, Mike Purcell and Tanzel Smart.
Tavon Austin also exited Tuesday's practice early, but McVay said it "looked like it was just a minor tissue issue" in his leg. The Rams are currently without Todd Gurley's backup running back, Lance Dunbar, who hasn't been able to practice because of a lingering knee injury.
"When you talk about two good players that are potentially unavailable, that's a concerning thing," McVay said of Easley and Donald. "But we've got guys who need to be ready to step up, and that's why you've got a 90-man roster right now. It gives guys the opportunity in their absence. Aaron's not here for different reasons, but if for whatever reason this is an extended absence for Dominique, who's done a great job in Aaron's absence, then somebody else will be ready to step up."