By Cedric Williams
After several days of speculation, the Los Angeles Rams confirmed on Wednesday that a number of their key starters will not play in this Sunday’s regular season finale against the San Francisco 49ers.
Head coach Sean McVay told the media following Wednesday’s walk-through practice at the team facility in Thousand Oaks that quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald were among the several players who will sit out on Sunday. Veteran offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan will also not play.
“Everything that we do is intentional and designed to be the best for our team and for our players,” McVay said. “I think they understand that. I know sometimes people may not always agree, but when situations like this come up, we talk about it. It’s a nice luxury to be able to have, but you want to make sure you handle it the right way for our team.”
The luxury the Rams have going into this week’s regular season finale is the club knows that no matter what happens this week against San Francisco, LA will be hosting an NFC Wild Card game next weekend. And even though the Rams clinched the NFC West title last week, they know that even if they won this week, they couldn’t reach any higher than the No. 3 seed they currently hold.
With a loss and a win by either the New Orleans Saints or Carolina Panthers, LA could fall to the No. 4 seed. But that would still mean the Rams would host a playoff game next week. So McVay and his staff decided it would be more beneficial for the club if some of the team’s key starters rested this week to be better prepared for next week.
“I agree with the decision on our coaching staff’s part to get some guys rest and get some guys healthy,” Goff said on Wednesday.
No. 2 quarterback Sean Mannion will start under center for the Rams on Sunday, with Goff serving as his backup. Malcolm Brown will start at running back for Gurley, who leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage (2,093) and touchdowns (19) this season.
Rams hand out team awards
Along with releasing the names of which starters won’t play this Sunday, the Rams also named the recipients of their team awards on Wednesday.
Todd Gurley received the Daniel F. Reeves Memorial Award, which goes to the team MVP; Andrew Whitworth won the Carl Ekern Spirit of the Game Award, which acknowledges team leadership; and wide receiver Cooper Kupp took home the Carroll Rosenbloom Memorial Award, which goes to the team’s rookie of the year.
Rams make roster moves
The Rams also announced on Wednesday that the club had placed both defensive back Marqui Christian and linebacker/pass rush specialist Matt Longacre on injured reserve. Christian has a broken clavicle, Longacre is going to need back surgery, and by being placed on IR, both players are done for the season.
To replace them, LA promoted offensive lineman Aaron Neary and linebacker Garrett Sickels to the active roster, which means both players are eligible to play this week.