Rookie Tanzel Smart listed as Rams starter in Aaron Donald’s absence

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Rams coach Sean McVay didn’t rule out the possibility of having defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the lineup for Sunday’s season opener against the Colts when he spoke to the media on Monday, but the fact that Donald has not been around the team for months suggests that holding out hope for Merlin Olsen would do the team as much good for this weekend.

That means the team has to have another plan for their defensive line and one of this year’s draft picks appears to feature heavily in that plan. The Rams released their depth chart for this week and sixth-round pick Tanzel Smart is listed as the starter at defensive tackle along with end Ethan Westbrooks and nose tackle Michael Brockers. Morgan Fox, Tyrunn Walker and Quinton Jefferson are listed as second-stringers.

Smart started the final two preseason games for the Rams and ended the preseason with four tackles and a pass defensed in four appearances. He started 36 games at Tulane before moving on to the NFL.

Smart joins linebacker Connor Barwin and cornerback Kavon Webster as newcomers to the Rams listed as defensive starters. Wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods join left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan as newcomers on the offensive first team.