After playing 10 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, Clay Matthews was off to a strong start in his first season with the Rams.
But the veteran linebacker will have surgery and could be sidelined for at least a month after suffering a broken jaw during the Rams’ 30-29 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, coach Sean McVay said Friday.
Matthews was injured near the end of the game in Seattle when he was accidentally kicked by Seahawks running back Chris Carson during a tackle attempt.
“That’s not good for us,” McVay said during a teleconference. “That’s a big injury.”
Matthews, 33, signed with the Rams in March intent on proving he was still an effective pass rusher. Against the Seahawks, he had one sack and five tackles. He also drew a roughing-the-passer penalty in the fourth quarter that helped keep alive a Seahawks drive.
Matthews, who had a career-low 3 ½ sacks last season for the Packers, has six sacks this season, and 89 ½ in his career.
“It’s something you just hate for him because of how productive he’s been for us and what he’s meant to our team and all the things that he’s done,” McVay said. “It’s going to be a big loss. Guys are going to be asked to step up in his absence.”
The Rams’ loss dropped their record to 3-2. They next play the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC West game on Oct. 13 at the Coliseum. The 49ers are 3-0 entering their Monday night game against the Cleveland Browns.
Samson Ebukam, a third-year pro, is expected to start in Matthews’ place opposite edge rusher Dante Fowler, McVay said.
Last season, Ebukam starred in the Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on “Monday Night Football.” He returned a fumble for a touchdown, returned an interception for a touchdown and caused a fourth-quarter interception when he hit Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Ebukam also had a sack and a tackle for a loss.
He had offseason knee surgery and was held out of offseason workouts. Ebukam said during training camp that he was eager to learn from Matthews.
“I was like, ‘This is an experience I’m going to have to just cherish, just having somebody who’s on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer right in front of me,’” Ebukam had said. “Being able to pick his brain is something I’m going to take advantage of.”
Ebukam has made nine tackles this season.
“Samson’s been a productive player for us over the last handful of years and I think he’s done a nice job really supplementing Dante and Clay,” McVay said. “But now, obviously, he’ll be asked to step up in a bigger role and play more snaps.
“We’ve seen him do that last year when he ended up making a big impact. We certainly will miss Clay but it will be something that Samson will have to step up, and we have confidence he can do that.”
Matthews is the second starting linebacker to suffer an injury that will force him to sit out. Bryce Hager was sidelined against the Seahawks because of a shoulder injury suffered last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Rookie Troy Reeder started in place of Hager and made a team-best 13 tackles. Reeder, who played in college at Delaware, signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent.
“It’s not too big for Troy,” McVay said. “He’s got a great feel for the game.”
The loss to the Seahawks, which ended with a missed field-goal attempt by Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, came four days after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Rams, 55-40, at the Coliseum.
“It’s been a humbling last week,” McVay said. “But I think it’s also one that — this game is pretty incredible when you sit back and you think about the amount of plays that occurred.
“For it to come down to one play, whether you’re feeling pretty good or whether you’re feeling like, ‘Man, this is a little bit of a gut-check time for us.’ ”
Receiver Brandin Cooks is in the concussion protocol, but was asymptomatic Friday, McVay said. ... Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, who caught nine passes for 117 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks, is averaging 101 yards receiving per game.