The season is over for Jalen Ramsey.
Rams coach Sean McVay said Tuesday that the star cornerback will not play in Sunday’s finale against the Arizona Cardinals because of a knee injury suffered Saturday night in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Ramsey intercepted his first pass of the season during the first quarter of the Rams’ 34-31 loss that eliminated them from playoff contention. The three-time Pro Bowl selection went to the locker room in the second quarter, but he returned and did not miss a series.
McVay said Ramsey suffered a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his left knee. The injury is expected to heal without surgery, he said.
“He’s made a big, big impact,” McVay said of Ramsey, who was acquired in October when the Rams traded two first-round draft picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars. “It was great to see him make a big-time play the other night on that pick.
“You can just feel, he’s had a presence since he’s been playing.”
Slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, rookie David Long and Dont’e Deayon will play in place of Ramsey, McVay said. Darious Williams could start a second consecutive game in place of Troy Hill, who had surgery last week for a broken thumb.
The Rams began the season with Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib as the starting cornerbacks. Peters was traded to the Baltimore Ravens a few hours before the Rams acquired Ramsey. Talib was later dealt to the Miami Dolphins.
Ramsey’s skill set changed the philosophy and attitude of the Rams’ defense. His ability to lock down an opponent’s top receiver and control one side of the field freed teammates to make plays.
Ramsey made his Rams debut against the Atlanta Falcons and mostly shut down star wide receiver Julio Jones. He had similar performances against JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys star Amari Cooper and others.
Ramsey impressed teammates with his willingness to play through his injury against the 49ers.
“For him to stick his neck back out there, keep playing, and finish the game strong and finish the game playing well, says a lot about who he is as a teammate and as a player,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “I’ve been extremely impressed by just his work ethic and competitiveness every day.”
Ramsey, the fifth pick in the 2016 NFL draft, earned $2.3 million this season, according to overthecap.com. He is due to earn $13.7 million next season on a fifth-year option, but he is line for a possible market-breaking long-term deal.
Before last season, the Rams signed running back Todd Gurley to a $57.5-million extension that included $45 million in guarantees, a record at the time for a running back. They also signed defensive lineman Aaron Donald to a $135-million extension that included $87 million in guarantees, a record for an interior lineman.
Before this season, they gave quarterback Jared Goff a $134-million extension that included a record $110 million in guarantees.
Ramsey could be next in line for a record-breaking deal, and the prospect of that payout, whenever it occurs, could affect decisions the Rams make about several other defensive players after the season ends.
Linebacker Cory Littleton, the team’s leading tackler each of the last two seasons and a Pro Bowl selection in 2018, will be an unrestricted free agent. So will edge rusher Dante Fowler, who has a career-best 11½ sacks, and veteran defensive lineman Michael Brockers.
Safety Eric Weddle has a year left on the deal he signed before the season, but the play of rookie Taylor Rapp and John Johnson’s return from a shoulder injury could cause the Rams to move on.
The Rams are off Wednesday. They will resume practice Thursday.... The Rams are planning several activities and ceremonies in conjunction with their final game at the Coliseum. A uniform patch that features the peristyle and torch will be worn by players. The field design will harken to the 1951 NFL championship game, when the Rams defeated the Cleveland Browns. The late Kenny Washington will be honored as a Legend of the Game. After the game, fans will be invited to the field to watch a season-in-review video and fireworks show. Commemorative posters will be available to fans exiting the stadium after the third quarter.