Taylor Rapp

Rams To Promote Eric Weddle

Eric Weddle‘s return to NFL practices this week evidently did not produce a letdown. The recently unretired safety is set to come off the Rams’ practice squad and play against the Cardinals, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com tweets.

This will be Weddle’s first game action since the 2019 regular-season finale. Suddenly thin at safety, the Rams lured Weddle out of retirement earlier this week. Both starters are out for Monday’s game, with Sean McVay adding that Taylor Rapp will not play against Arizona. The Rams placed Jordan Fuller on IR earlier this week.

Fuller will undergo season-ending ankle surgery, and Rapp will not clear concussion protocol in time to play in Los Angeles’ wild-card matchup. Third-year man Nick Scott has played the third-most snaps at safety for the Rams this season, with practice squad cog Sharrod Neasman having also played more than 200 snaps.

A 13-year veteran, Weddle turned 37 last week. While Weddle was durable during the first leg of his career, having missed just three games from 2010-19, this obviously will be an interesting experiment the Rams are conducting. Weddle made the Pro Bowl in each of his three Ravens campaigns, from 2016-18, and was a 16-game starter for the Rams the following year. It is uncertain if the Rams will count on Weddle to return as a starter, but he will suit up in this unusual circumstance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Weddle Returns To Rams For Playoff Run

The Beard is returning to the playoffs. Eric Weddle has agreed to a deal returning to the Los Angeles Rams for a playoff run. The two-time All-Pro is coming out of retirement for one more attempt at a Super Bowl ring. 

Weddle announced his retirement shortly after the 2019 NFL season and did not see any time on an NFL field last year. In his lone year on the Rams, Weddle was a team captain and defensive signal-caller.

The new comes shortly after hearing that starting safety Jordan Fuller would require ankle surgery that will hold him out for the remainder of the season. The Rams’ other starter in the defensive backfield, Taylor Rapp, is also in concussion protocol.

Weddle, despite continuing to be a leader on the defense, saw his impact change a bit in his last two years of football. The 37-year old hasn’t forced a turnover in a little over four years, but his last season on the Rams saw him finish second on the team in tackles.

Los Angeles will take whatever version of Weddle they can get as their secondary limps into the playoffs. They face their division rivals Monday night as they host the Cardinals for Super Wild Card Weekend.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Rams Sign Second-Round Pick Taylor Rapp

In recent years, the Rams have been the last team to start signing their incoming rookies. On Friday, they finally put a dent in their draft class by signing second-round safety Taylor Rapp as well as seventh-round picks Nick Scott and Dakota Allen

Rapp, a University of Washington product, notched 59 tackles, six tackles for loss, five sacks, two interceptions, and three fumble recoveries last season. In his first year with the Rams, he’s expected to support starters Eric Weddle and John Johnson.

Rapp profiled as one of the best open-field tackling safeties in this year’s class and has a strong football IQ for a player of his age. After he opened his collegiate career with four interceptions but saw that number tail off with time, it’ll be interesting to see if he has a nose for the ball at the pro level.

With Rapp, Scott, and Allen signed, the Rams are left with five unsigned rookies to go, as shown in PFR’s tracker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Rumors: Brown, Samuel, Ford

The 49ers will host Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown and South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel on Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Neither player is in the mix for the Niners at No. 2 overall, but both could be an option further down the line.

Right now, it seems likely that Brown will be a first rounder, making him unlikely to be available when the 49ers pick again at No. 36 overall. Still, crazier things have happened and the Niners could always trade up if they want Brown badly enough. Samuel, meanwhile, seems to be right in range for that pick. After watching Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham head elsewhere this offseason, the Niners are undoubtedly in the hunt for receiver help in the draft.

Here’s the latest draft buzz:

  • Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford will meet with the Panthers on Tuesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. This marks Ford’s ninth and final visit, and five of those teams pick between No. 11 and 20. With that in mind, it’s fair to wonder whether Ford will be available for Carolina at No. 16 overall.
  • Washington safety Taylor Rapp – widely pegged as a late-first round or second round prospect, will also visit the Panthers on Tuesday, according to Rapoport. Rapp also recently met with the Seahawks.
  • West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell are visiting the Redskins, Rapoport tweets. Grier figures to be available in the middle rounds, but the Redskins will probably have to pounce in the second round if they want Campbell.

Draft Notes: LBs, Cowboys, OL, Pats, Ravens

Two teams who will be visiting with Devin White soon are also set to have this draft’s other high-profile Devin on their pre-draft itineraries. The Bengals met with Devin Bush on Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, adding the Buccaneers are next up on the Michigan-produced linebacker’s schedule. White is expected to go off draft boards a bit sooner, but Bush is viewed as a solid first-round pick as well. Bush finished out the 2018 season with 66 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks. In 2017, the versatile linebacker posted 95 tackles, 10 for loss, and 5.5 sacks. He is the son of former Falcons, Rams and Browns safety Devin Bush Sr., a 1995 first-round pick who played in back-to-back Super Bowls in the late 1990s. The Bucs hold the No. 5 pick, while the Bengals’ first pick comes at No. 11.

Here’s the latest from the draft world:

  • While Bush may be a solid first-round bet, White has climbed to the point of potentially becoming the first off-ball linebacker to be drafted in the top five since Aaron Curry in 2009. A consensus of White being as good or better than Roquan Smith as a prospect has formed, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, adding that he could be a fit at No. 4 for the Raiders or No. 5 for the Bucs.
  • The Cowboys have made most of their 30 visits known, and some higher-level prospects reside on Dallas’ list — despite the team not holding a first-round pick. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel and safeties Taylor Rapp and Johnathan Abram are set to visit the Cowboys, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News reports. Four defensive tackles, four safeties, three wideouts and three running backs appear on the Cowboys’ list. The past six Cowboys first-round picks visited the Cowboys pre-draft, Machota notes, though with Dallas not holding a selection until late in the second round (No. 58) could complicate matters. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah rates Samuel, a South Carolina-honed receiver, as this class’ No. 6 wideout. He rates Abram (Mississippi State) as the class’ top safety.
  • Rapp will be receiving a nice tour of the country this month, with a three-time zone trip on the horizon. The Lions, Rams, Giants and Panthers also booked pre-draft summits with the Washington safety, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com notes. A three-year Huskies contributor, Rapp intercepted seven passes and made at least 50 tackles in each of his college campaigns. Pauline expects Rapp to be a second-round pick.
  • A fellow Washington Huskies product, tackle Kaleb McGary has visits lined up with the Patriots, Rams and Jaguars, per Pauline. The Falcons are also going to work out McGary, who was a three-plus-season starter at right tackle for the Pac-12 program.
  • The top two centers on Jeremiah’s list, N.C. State’s Garrett Bradbury and Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy, will visit the Ravens, The Athletic’s Jeff Zreibec reports (subscription required). Baltimore allowed Ryan Jensen to walk in free agency last year and turned to Matt Skura to replace him in 2018. Skura graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 23 center last season for a Ravens team that became far more reliant on the run once Lamar Jackson entered the equation.

Patriots Notes: Kraft, Flowers, Tate

Patriots owner Robert Kraft will likely not face many legal repercussions from his prostitution charges, according to a Florida criminal defense attorney (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe). Kraft will probably be required to pay a several hundred dollar fine and attend counseling of some sort, at which point the charges may be dropped.

But the consequences from an NFL standpoint are likely to be much more severe. Volin believes commissioner Roger Goodell should “come down hard on Kraft” and impose at least a six-game suspension and a hefty fine (the maximum fine is $500K). Kraft is obviously one of the most prominent and powerful owners in the league, but he may be relieved of some of his duties (he is a part of five major ownership committees). He was supposed to guide the league through a potential 2021 lockout and lead negotiations with television networks when those contracts expire in 2022, but that is all in question now.

Volin still believes Kraft will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his induction will now be delayed, and the 77-year-old may not be around to enjoy his enshrinement when it does happen (Volin says Kraft was likely to get the HOF nod in a year or two). And, while Kraft will almost certainly not be forced to sell the club or hand it off to his son, Jonathan, this incident will be a permanent blot on his reputation.

Now let’s take a quick look at a few on-field notes from Foxborough:

  • Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers will be a hot commodity if he hits the open market, but Jim McBride of the Boston Globe says locking him up to a long-term deal is high on New England’s list of priorities. The Pats are unlikely to use the franchise tag on Flowers, and they are unlikely to keep him if it takes an Olivier Vernon-esque deal to do so (five years, $85MM). However, McBride believes Flowers will ultimately return to New England on a multi-year contract, even if he tests the free agent market first.
  • In the same piece linked above, McBride looks at the other Patriots eligible for free agency and their chances of returning to the club. For instance, he believes specialists Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen will certainly be back, while Eric Rowe and Danny Shelton are more likely to find homes elsewhere.
  • Assuming the Patriots don’t trade out of the first round, Doug Kyed of NESN.com sees tight ends Noah Fant (Iowa) and Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama) and DB Taylor Rapp (Washington) as potential fits.
  • Golden Tate would be a good fit in the Patriots’ offense, but Kyed does not believe the Pats will be willing to meet Tate’s asking price.
  • Brothers Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty have announced that they will continue their careers in 2019 after some retirement speculation prior to the Super Bowl. Devin is still under contract with the Patriots, but Jason is eligible for free agency.