Andrew Whitworth and Taylor Rapp look on track to return for Los Angeles Rams in NFC championship game, says Sean McVay
Los Angeles Rams safety Taylor Rapp and left tackle Andrew Whitworth appear on track to play the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, coach Sean McVay said Monday.
Rapp is yet to play in the playoffs due to a concussion he sustained in week 18. Whitworth missed the Rams’ divisional round win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of a knee injury.
McVay said Whitworth’s replacement, Joe Noteboom, “strained his pecs a bit” just before Matt Gay fired a 30-yard field goal on time to beat Tom Brady and the defending champion, who returned from a 27: 3-thirds back. Quarter deficit to tie the game.
“[Noteboom] did a great job,” McVay said. “So we’ll be monitoring his progress throughout the week. Andrew Whitworth has had great treatment. Has responded really well to it. He’s feeling good. I expect he’ll be training this week and can see what that looks like. And then Taylor is making really big progress, upped some of the physical activity and he’s feeling good. So these two guys look like they’re on the way to possibly playing on Sunday .”
Whitworth, 40, injured his right knee in the first game of the Rams’ wildcard win over the Arizona Cardinals. He played 30 of the team’s 60 offensive snaps before Noteboom replaced him for the rest of the game.
McVay said Noteboom “excelled” against Tampa Bay and also played well in two previous fill-in starts this season.
Noteboom recorded a 96% pass-block win rate against Tampa Bay. Whitworth ranked third in offensive tackle during the regular season with a 94% PBWR.
The Bucs recorded eight QB hits and two sacks on Matthew Stafford’s 40 dropbacks.
“We have a feeling he’s a rookie,” McVay said of Noteboom. “I thought he and [right tackle Rob Havenstein] Both did an excellent job in terms of the number of times and the stress we put on them with the amount of setbacks we had in that game. And being able to hold our own against that onslaught was crucial to us being able to win. Was very happy with Joe yesterday.”
Linebacker Ernest Jones is the only player among those the Rams recently called up for a return to practice off injured reserve who has a shot at playing against San Francisco, McVay said.
Rapp’s absence, as well as the season-ending ankle injury sustained by Jordan Fuller in Week 18, has forced the Rams to play in the team’s two playoff games without their two starting safeties. Nick Scott, who stepped in as one of the starters, intercepted Brady late in the first half of Sunday.
Terrell Burgess started again against Scott but was passed 61 to 14 by veteran Eric Weddle, who came out of his two-year retirement given the injuries to Rapp and Fuller.