Rookie Gaines looking to make plays

ST. LOUIS — Rams rookie cornerback E.J. Gaines said he’s not going to put any extra pressure on himself with Trumaine Johnson out with an injury and a starting spot up for grabs going into Thursday’s final preseason game.

“Just do what I do, you know?” Gaines said this week. “I’m still a rookie right now so I’m still trying to learn the game, get used to the speed of the game and stuff like that. But I definitely play with a chip on my shoulder and that’s just my game in general. Going into this game, I’ll just play my game and hopefully I’ll make some plays for our team.”

Gaines has done that during training camp and the preseason and put himself in position to be the Rams’ starting cornerback opposite Janoris Jenkins in Week 1 of the regular season against the Minnesota Vikings.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher mentioned Gaines, Brandon McGee and Lamarcus Joyner as the potential starter at that spot on Sunday when the announced that Johnson would miss four to six weeks with a knee injury, but the coach declined to tip his hand any more than that.

Still, it’s clear that the sixth-round pick (No. 188 overall) has made a favorable impression on the St. Louis coaching staff this preseason.

“E.J. has done a nice job,” Fisher said after a practice this week. “He missed last week, he’s been off for about 10 days but he’s back. He feels good, he’ll play. He’s done a nice job both at the corner spot, the nickel spot and on special teams.”

Fisher said before Johnson got injured that Joyner would start at the nickel cornerback spot, which was what the Rams intended when they traded up to select him in the second round of the draft.

But now, with Johnson out, it’s possible that Joyner could start on the outside at cornerback and then Gaines could find himself as the starting nickel corner on the inside.

Gaines has had reps at both spots during the preseason.

“I think it shows that the coaches trust in me to do that and trust in me to do that and trust in me to be able to play multiple positions,” he said. “Being able to do that is good and I feel like helps me out.”

The former Big 12 and Southeastern Conference first-team all-league selection is still adjusting to the pro game, but he’s shown that he’s good enough to play at this level. He started the preseason opener against the Saints and finished with a game-high six tackles.

“The speed of the game is so much different from college and I heard it’s going to get even faster during the regular season,” Gaines said. “Just get used to this speed right now and then when the regular season comes around get used to that speed and hopefully I’ll get to making more plays and thinking less.”

He looks like he’s well on his way and he’s also cognizant that he has so much more to work on to get better and become a solid all-around cornerback.

But Gaines is happy with his performance so far with the Rams.

“Yeah, I’m happy,” he said. “I definitely have a lot to fix out there on the field and a lot of mental errors that I have got to fix, but other than that I think the coaches have faith in me, have trust in me and hopefully I can get out there and play my game.”

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com

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