THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams have placed 38-year-old left tackle Andrew Whitworth on injured reserve with injured ligaments in his left knee.
Safety Taylor Rapp and kicker Kai Forbath also went on injured reserve Tuesday with injuries sustained in the Rams’ 23-16 victory over Seattle last weekend. None of the injuries is thought to be season-ending.
Whitworth will miss a game due to injury for the first time since 2013 when the Rams (6-3) visit Tampa Bay (7-3) on Monday night. The 15-year NFL veteran has been the foundation of Los Angeles’ offense for his four seasons under coach Sean McVay, who took over two months before Whitworth left Cincinnati to sign with the Rams.
Whitworth damaged the medial and posterior collateral ligaments in his knee when Seattle’s KJ Wright ran into the side of Whitworth’s leg on a passing play. Whitworth had played every snap of the season before he was taken from the SoFi Stadium field on a cart.
But McVay had relatively good news Monday night: Whitworth avoided damage to his ACL, and the projected six to eight weeks of recovery from his injuries could allow Whitworth to play late this season or in potential playoff games.
“I think it’s a credit to what a freak he is, because I know that didn’t look great,” McVay said. “We were all worried it was for sure going to be season-ending, and that’s not going to be the case.”
Whitworth is a four-time Pro Bowl selection whose play has not declined as his career progressed. After 11 seasons with the Bengals, he has been one of the NFL’s top-graded left tackles during his four years with Los Angeles, including this season.
Whitworth has made year-by-year decisions about his future since the Rams made it to his first Super Bowl in early 2019, but he seemed to be leaning toward another season with the Rams before this injury.
During the offseason training break caused by the pandemic, Whitworth built a weight room in his garage to keep up with his workouts, and he bounced back after his entire family became infected with the coronavirus before training camp.
In an Instagram post Sunday, Whitworth described the injury as “a chance to put my leadership to the test. Who am I in adversity? Is it really about more than just me? How hard can I push myself to return? What can I pour into my teammates from the sideline?”
Joe Noteboom will replace Whitworth at left tackle as the protector of Jared Goff’s blind side.
Rapp has a Grade 2 sprain of his MCL, and the second-year safety is likely to be out “at least three to four weeks,” McVay said. Rapp also injured his knee early in training camp and subsequently lost his starting job to rookie Jordan Fuller, but he had returned to a starting role in recent weeks while Fuller was out with a shoulder injury.
Rapp, Fuller and fellow safety John Johnson played together frequently against the Seahawks because of the Rams’ desire to have their best 11 defensive players on the field, even if three of them are safeties. McVay and defensive coordinator Brandon Staley haven’t decided whether they’ll make scheme adjustments in Rapp’s absence, or whether untested safety Nick Scott will step in with Fuller and Johnson.
“Brandon and the defensive coaches have done a great job of activating a bunch of different personnel groupings that make it a more difficult thing to plan for as an offensive staff,” McVay said.
Forbath injured his ankle against the Seahawks after missing an extra point and failing to get distance on his kickoffs. The veteran Los Angeles native’s tenure with the Rams might be over just two games after he replaced rookie Samuel Sloman.
The Rams have XFL veteran kicker Austin MacGinnis on their practice squad, and they signed Matt Gay off Indianapolis’ practice squad Tuesday. Gay is likely to participate in practice Saturday after clearing coronavirus restrictions, McVay said.
The second-year pro out of Utah spent last season with Tampa Bay, making 27 of his 35 field goals and missing five of his 48 extra points. Despite a particularly strong leg on kickoffs and long field goals, Gay had issues with short-yardage consistency and eventually lost his job to veteran Ryan Succop out of training camp two months ago.
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