Andrew Whitworth

Rams GM: “Too Early” To Call Jared Goff’s Future

Earlier this month, Rams head coach Sean McVay didn’t offer much in the way of assurances when he was asked about Jared Goff‘s future. On Tuesday, Rams GM Les Snead offered up a similar answer when chatting with reporters. 

Not going to get into specifics…That’s the beautiful mystery of the future,” Snead said. (Twitter link via Greg Beacham of the Associated Press). “Jared Goff is a Ram at this moment. It’s way too early to speculate.”

Bolster’s by the league’s top total defense, the Rams made it to the divisional round before falling to the Packers. Meanwhile, the former No. 1 overall pick regressed, tossing tons of interceptions and putting his L.A. future in jeopardy.

Snead, known for his aggressiveness, might have a hard time trading Goff, if that’s what he wants to do. The QB is under contract through 2024 thanks to the monster extension he signed in 2019. Meanwhile, there’s no realistic way to cut him before next season, given the dead money that would come with his release. Ultimately, the Rams may have to bring in competition for Goff, rather than move on from him.

In other Rams roster news, left tackle Andrew Whitworth has confirmed to the Rams that he’ll return in 2021. For his part, Snead has no issue with Whitworth’s contract, which will carry a $11.17MM hit against the cap.

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Rams Activate Andrew Whitworth From IR

Andrew Whitworth will be back for the Rams’ playoff opener. After missing seven games because of an MCL tear and PCL damage, the 15th-year left tackle is back on Los Angeles’ active roster.

The Rams activated Whitworth from their IR-DTR list and waived linebacker Natrez Patrick, per a team announcement. Whitworth returned to practice last week and was viewed as likely to return in time for Rams-Seahawks III.

Whitworth, who intends to return for a 16th NFL season, has the Rams’ starting left tackle since arriving in 2017. He has started in each of the team’s previous four Sean McVay-era playoff games. Pro Football Focus graded the 39-year-old blocker as its No. 4 overall tackle through 10 games this year. Whitworth suffered the injury during the Rams’ Week 10 win against the Seahawks.

In addition to Whitworth’s impending return, the Rams saw Cooper Kupp return to practice and are expected to have Michael Brockers back this week as well. Both missed Week 17 after landing on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list as high-risk close contacts.

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Rams’ Andrew Whitworth To Continue Playing

Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth will be back in action for Saturday’s Wild Card game against the Seahawks. He also says he’ll be back for another year of football, as Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated writes. 

I’m pretty jacked up to come back, that’s for sure,” Whitworth said. “I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t [return] next season.”

 

Whitworth, 39, previously said that 2020 would probably be his final season. He also said the same thing in 2019, so his announcement doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise. This year, Pro Football Focus rated him as one of the league’s top lineman. He played at a high level throughout his 15th pro season, up until the knee injury that put him on the sidelines. Without Whitworth, the Rams dropped games to losing clubs, further underscoring his importance to the team.

The Rams still have Whitworth under contract through 2022 thanks to the three-year, $30MM deal he inked in the spring. You can expect him back in L.A. next season, when he’ll continue on as one of the oldest linemen in NFL history.

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Andrew Whitworth, Cooper Kupp, Michael Brockers Expected Back This Week

The Rams do not yet know who their starting quarterback will be in their Saturday wild-card game, but they are expecting a few critical reinforcements.

Out since mid-November, Andrew Whitworth remains on Los Angeles’ IR-DTR list. But the Rams expect their left tackle to return against the Seahawks, Sean McVay said Tuesday (via The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, on Twitter). McVay also anticipates Cooper Kupp and Michael Brockers, who landed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list last week, to return to practice Wednesday, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com tweets.

Whitworth missed the past seven games, having suffered MCL and PCL tears during the Rams’ first Seahawks meeting. The 39-year-old blocker returned to practice last week and has long been reported to have progressed quicker than expected. A return for Rams-Seahawks III would certainly boost the visitors’ chances.

Kupp and Brockers were not confirmed to have tested positive for the coronavirus, ut the Rams placed the longtime starters on the COVID list last week. Each missed the team’s regular-season finale. Had they contracted the virus, neither would be eligible to return to practice Wednesday.

Jared Goff has resumed throwing, per McVay, but the Rams have not yet determined whether he or backup John Wolford will start in Round 1. Despite having never thrown an NFL pass, Wolford accounted for nearly 300 yards in the Rams’ win over the Cardinals last week. Goff, who is recovering from thumb surgery, had never previously missed a start due to injury.

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Andrew Whitworth Returns To Practice

Reeling at several offensive positions, the Rams received some good news regarding their left tackle. Andrew Whitworth returned to practice Wednesday.

The former All-Pro blocker hit key recovery checkpoints sooner than expected. He suffered MCL and PCL tears Nov. 15, halting another strong season. But the Rams may have him back to protect a new quarterback Sunday. They will have three weeks to move the 15th-year tackle back to their active roster.

Earlier this month, Sean McVay did not rule out a Whitworth return for Week 17. That would be quite the bonus for a Rams team that will be without Jared Goff and Darrell Henderson — and possibly Cooper Kupp and Cam Akers as well — against the Cardinals in what could well be a do-or-die game. John Wolford, an Alliance of American Football refugee who has yet to take an NFL snap, is set to start this weekend. Goff is recovering from thumb surgery.

One of the oldest O-linemen in NFL history, Whitworth turned 39 earlier this month. But he played a key part in helping the Rams bounce back from an uneven 2019 season on offense. When Whitworth went down in Week 10, Pro Football Focus slotted him fourth overall among tackles. The Rams have lost to two non-playoff-bound teams — including the previously winless Jets — without Whitworth.

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West Notes: Carr, Broncos, Rams, 49ers

Derek Carr left Thursday night’s AFC West matchup early because of what Jon Gruden called a “significant” groin injury. The veteran Raiders quarterback’s rest-of-season status can be considered in doubt. Carr is facing a 10- to 14-day return timetable, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes. This puts his availability for next week’s pivotal Dolphins game in question, though Rapoport adds Carr will push to return for what could be an elimination game against another fringe AFC contender. Carr has not missed a game due to injury since 2017. The former MVP vote-receiving passer has only missed two regular-season games in seven years. Marcus Mariota played well in relief of Carr on Thursday, and Carr’s status going into next weekend stands to give the Dolphins some extra work due to the differences in the Raiders QBs’ skill sets.

Here is the latest from the West divisions, moving first to another team’s quarterback situation.

  • Drew Lock has shown some potential as a long-term answer this season — including last week in Charlotte — but ranks 28th in QBR and has thrown 13 INTs in 10 games. The Broncos sat out this year’s veteran QB market, but Troy Renck of Denver7 notes the team is likely to bring in a veteran to compete with Lock (or potentially replace him) next year. A similar batch of vets — Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Jameis Winston — on track to be available again would qualify as competition, and the Broncos were also high on Sam Darnold in 2018. A trade for Matthew Stafford, a scenario Renck mentions, would be to replace Lock. The Broncos have used four different Week 1 starting QBs since Peyton Manning‘s retirement, moving from Trevor Siemian to Case Keenum to Joe Flacco to Lock.
  • Sean McVay is not ruling out an Andrew Whitworth regular-season return, and it sounds like the Rams having their left tackle back for the playoffs is realistic. “Andrew is doing great,” McVay said. “He continues to amaze me. He’s somebody we could potentially really push to have him play whether it’s the (Week 17) Cardinals game or next week. If we’re fortunate enough to get an opportunity to play after the regular season, I think that’s the goal, but nothing’s guaranteed for us.” Whitworth suffered MCL and PCL tears Nov. 15 but was believed to be ahead of schedule on his recovery timetable.
  • A Rams positive COVID-19 test resulted in offensive lineman Bobby Evans and safety Nick Scott landing on the reserve/COVID list; they will miss Week 15, McVay said (via ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry, Twitter links). The Rams also held starting center Brian Allen and rotational pass rushers Justin Hollins and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo out of practice Friday, though McVay expects the latter trio to play Sunday.
  • The 49ers‘ Arizona arrangement will extend through season’s end. Santa Clara county extended COVID-19 restrictions that have prevented the 49ers from playing at Levi’s Stadium, but the Cardinals will permit their division rival to use the stadium for their Week 17 game against the Seahawks, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com notes. The 49ers will also be in Glendale next week but will do so as the road team against the Cardinals.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Whitworth, Garoppolo

Cardinals NT Corey Peters is out for the season due to a torn patellar tendon, and as he is in the final year of his contract with Arizona, it’s possible he has already played his last game with the team. But if he has it his way, that won’t be the case.

The 32-year-old said that he would love to spend the rest of his career with the Cardinals, as Mason Kern of SI.com writes, and assuming the price is right, it would make sense for GM Steve Keim to keep him. Peters was named Arizona’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award yesterday, and he has been a team captain for three years running. In addition to his stout defense against the run, he is a highly-respected spiritual and emotional leader, so look for the two sides to discuss a reunion this offseason.

Now for more from the NFC West:

  • Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald says he feels much better after testing positive for COVID-19 late last month, though he has yet to regain his senses of taste and smell (Twitter link via Kimberley A. Martin of ESPN.com). Fitz also says he lost nine pounds during his bout with the coronavirus, but he did come off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, and as Darren Urban of the team’s official website tweets, the 37-year-old will suit up against the Giants this weekend.
  • After sinking 88.6% of his field goal tries in 2019, Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez has converted just 72.7% of his attempts this year, prompting some to wonder if the team will seek another option. But Keim will keep rolling with Gonzalez, saying, “I know people question Zane but Zane has a lot of talent. … I think Zane will work through the tough times” (Twitter link via Urban). Gonzalez is playing out the season on his RFA tender, and this is not how he wanted to enter his first offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Rams suddenly find themselves atop the NFC West, and they could be getting their left tackle back soon. Andrew Whitworth has been on the shelf since the middle of November with a torn MCL and PCL, but Jay Glazer of FOX Sports says (via Twitter) that the veteran OT, who turns 39 tomorrow, will test out the knee next week. Whitworth is apparently way ahead of schedule and could return by the end of the regular season.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo‘s future with the 49ers is in some doubt, even though HC Kyle Shanahan recently said he expects the dashing signal-caller to be the team’s starter in 2021. That may well be the case, but Matt Barrows of The Athletic believes San Francisco will select a QB in next year’s draft, perhaps as high as the second round. There could be a few intriguing prospects available at that point that Shanahan may be able to turn into a viable starter at the professional level. Players like Florida’s Kyle Trask or Alabama’s Mac Jones could both be options.
  • It has now been over a year since Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny last suited up for a game, but as John Boyle of the team’s official website notes, Penny returned to practice this week. Head coach Pete Carroll says he’s excited about what he has seen from Penny in practice (Twitter link via 710 ESPN Seattle), and the ‘Hawks could certainly use a boost to an RB corps that has dealt with a number of injuries this season. Per Boyle, CB Quinton Dunbar, who has been on IR for a few weeks with a knee injury, has also returned to practice.
  • The Seahawks signed QB Alex McGough to their practice squad yesterday, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, the team has put its other PS signal-caller, Danny Etling, in a bubble. The Broncos, of course, recently had to play a game with a practice squad wide receiver at QB because the rest of their quarterbacks were deemed high-risk close contacts of Jeff Driskel, who had tested positive. The Seahawks are keeping Etling in a bubble to guard against just such a situation.

Rams Make Handful Of Roster Moves

The Rams made a handful of roster moves Tuesday afternoon. Los Angeles is signing kicker Matt Gay while placing offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, safety Taylor Rapp, and kicker Kai Forbath on IR, the team announced Tuesday.

Obviously with Forbath going on injured reserve, the team needed a new kicker. They started the year with seventh-round rookie Sam Sloman as their kicker, but replaced him with Forbath after he struggled to start the year. Gay was drafted by the Bucs in the fifth-round last year, and spent 2019 as their kicker. He was waived in September following a training camp battle with veteran Ryan Succop that he lost. He then signed with the Colts’ practice squad, which the Rams just poached him off.

Whitworth of course suffered a torn MCL and PCL during Sunday’s win over the Seahawks. The injury was thought to possibly be season-ending, but head coach Sean McVay indicated recently they were hoping to get him back and that it would sideline him only 6-8 weeks. If that’s the case, then the veteran stud left tackle may be able to return and block Jared Goff‘s blindside for a playoff run. 2018 third-round pick Joseph Noteboom will take his place for the time being.

Rapp is a 2019 second-rounder who was a starter as a rookie and had once again been playing a big role on defense this season. He has an MCL sprain which McVay said will likely sideline him between 3-4 weeks. Meanwhile Forbath has a sprained ankle. Gay will apparently compete with Austin MacGinnis, currently on the practice squad, for the kicking job.

Andrew Whitworth Has Torn MCL & PCL

It looks like the Rams will be without one of their leaders moving forward. Veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth‘s initial tests on his injured knee showed a torn MCL and PCL, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports tweets.

Fortunately, Whitworth told Glazer that it looks like his ACL was spared. Still, it’s a significant injury that is surely going to sideline him for some time, and potentially the rest of the season. These field exams are very accurate, so Whitworth’s ACL is almost certainly in tact. Still at his age, any injury this serious could spell the beginning of the end. He’s one of the oldest non-quarterbacks you’ll ever see play effectively, as Big Whit is set to turn 39 next month.

The stud offensive lineman has flirted with retirement each of the past couple offseasons, but has always chosen to come back. A second-round pick back in 2006, he spent the first 11 years of his illustrious career with the Bengals before signing with Los Angeles in 2017. He’s made four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams, including a first-team selection in that 2017 season.

As the anchor of Sean McVay’s O-line, he’s been a huge part of the Rams’ offensive success over the past few years. 2018 third-round pick Joseph Noteboom, who’s primarily a guard and was just activated off IR, filled in for Whitworth during the Rams’ win over the Seahawks after he went down. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we have more details on how long he’ll be on the shelf.

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Andrew Whitworth Tested Positive For COVID-19

Union chief DeMaurice Smith and president J.C. Tretter held a conference call with media members on Friday, and Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth joined the call. Whitworth revealed that he recently tested positive for COVID-19, and his story is a troubling one (h/t Howard Balzer of SI.com).

Whitworth explained that a family member went to lunch with a friend. Several days later, that family member started to feel ill when she was traveling with Whitworth, his wife and children, and his wife’s parents. She subsequently tested positive, and Whitworth and every other person on that trip tested positive shortly thereafter.

Luckily, it appears as if everyone involved has recovered, but it does underscore how dangerous the virus is. And as Tretter pointed out during the call, there are still important unanswered questions concerning the spread of the virus. Although it may be possible to have socially distant huddles, offensive and defensive linemen have to be in contact with each other and players on the opposing line on every play, so if one of them tests positive, how will the league determine how many people to quarantine, and for how long?

For now, the league is forging ahead with its plans to start training camp on July 28, with rookies, QBs, and injured players reporting to their clubs this week. As of July 10, 72 players league-wide had tested positive for COVID-19, and that number will almost certainly increase when testing becomes mandatory. How the league responds to positive tests will be the most important factor in starting and completing the 2020 season.

Whitworth, 38, has contemplated retirement recently, but he signed a new three-year contract this offseason that will theoretically keep him with Los Angeles though his age-40 season. He was a First-Team All-Pro in 2017, his first year with the Rams, and though he is unlikely to reach those heights again, he remains a good LT and a key component of the club’s O-line.

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