Dec 20, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) prepares to take the snap against the New York Jets in the first quarterat SoFi Stadium. The Jets defeated the Rams 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams QB Jared Goff, OT Andrew Whitworth making progress to play

Things are looking up for the Los Angeles Rams’ offense ahead of their NFC wild-card game at the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday.

Quarterback Jared Goff was upgraded to questionable on the Rams’ injury report, and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth was activated off injured reserve Thursday. Those two bits of positive news came one day after wide receiver Cooper Kupp was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Goff, who hasn’t played since having surgery to repair his broken and dislocated right thumb Dec. 28, went through a “normal practice” Wednesday, according to Rams coach Sean McVay.

“Ball handling, throwing some routes on air, getting a little bit of work off to the side when the defense was going, and got some stuff in with our offensive guys,” McVay told reporters Wednesday.

McVay, who added that he was “pleased” with what he saw from Goff, said earlier this week he would not announce a decision about his starting quarterback before game time. If Goff can’t play, John Wolford would make another start. Wolford led the Rams to an 18-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Whitworth hasn’t played since he injured his PCL and MCL at home against the Seahawks on Nov. 15. He’s expected to be back in the starting lineup Saturday.

“(I feel) great,” he said in a video conference after practice Wednesday. “You know I’ve had some time off. Any time you’re a veteran player it feels good to have a little break for a little while. So you know what, it’s been a grind, it’s been a lot of work to get back, and ups and downs obviously any time you’re injured. But it feels good now, so I feel confident and looking forward to the opportunity.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed (90) sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Rams QB Goff (thumb surgery) out vs. Cardinals

Rams quarterback Jared Goff won’t play in Los Angeles’ Sunday home game against the Arizona Cardinals after undergoing surgery on Monday to repair a broken thumb, according to multiple media reports.

Goff got hurt Sunday in the Rams’ 20-9 road loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Goff likely will be replaced by John Wolford, an undrafted signal-caller out of Wake Forest who has never taken a snap in a regular-season NFL game. He played well with the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football.

The Rams (9-6) would make the playoffs with a win over the Cardinals (8-7) on Sunday or if the Chicago Bears (8-5) lose to the Green Bay Packers (12-3). If the Rams lose and the Bears win, the Rams would be eliminated from playoff contention. The Rams have lost their past two games, to the New York Jets and the Seahawks.

The Cardinals would clinch a playoff spot by beating the Rams. They also would get in by tying the Rams as long as the Bears lose to the Packers.

According to NFL Network, Goff’s surgery was performed by Dr. Steven Shin, the Rams’ hand specialist and who also performed a successful operation on the thumb of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees last year.

The Rams have not officially ruled out Goff, who has thrown for 3,952 yards with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season, for the Sunday game.

Meantime, Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury was vague when came to the status of Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray for Sunday’s game. Murray sustained a lower-leg injury Saturday in the final seconds of the Cardinals’ 20-12 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

“We’ll see how he feels this week,” Kingsbury said. “I’m hopeful that he can be in position to play and do what he does.”

Murray has thrown for 3,884 yards with 26 scores and 12 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 816 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Rams defeated the Cardinals 38-28 on Dec. 6 in Glendale, Ariz.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) returns to the sideline following a turnover on downs against the Seattle Seahawks during the third quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Rams QB Goff has broken right thumb

With their playoff chances still up in the air, the Los Angeles Rams could be without quarterback Jared Goff for the Week 17 season finale because of a broken right thumb, NFL Network reported.

Goff, 26, smashed his thumb into the helmet of Seattle Seahawks defensive end Benson Mayowa on a third-quarter pass attempt. According to the report, Goff also dislocated his thumb on the play.

Goff remained in the game but was unable to rally the Rams to a victory as Los Angeles fell 20-9 to the Seahawks. He was 24 of 43 for 234 yards with one interception and did not have a touchdown pass for the fourth time this season. He did not throw a TD pass in two games against the Seahawks this season.

It was the second consecutive week the Rams could have clinched a playoff spot with a victory, but they fell to the winless New York Jets in Week 15 before losing to the Seahawks on Sunday.

The Rams will conduct more tests on Goff’s thumb this week before determining if he will play in the regular-season finale at home against the Arizona Cardinals. John Wolford is the Rams’ backup quarterback, but he has not taken a snap in the NFL.

–Field Level Media

No surprises now: LA Rams adjust to Super Bowl aspirations

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jared Goff realizes the Los Angeles Rams won’t surprise anybody this fall.

Not with their stunning one-season transformation still fresh in the NFL’s collective mind, and certainly not after adding several stars to their roster in the offseason.

The Rams are headed into the new season as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, with all of the accompanying baggage and scrutiny. For a 23-year-old leader of a franchise that has very little recent experience with positive expectations, Goff appears to be handling it well.

“There’s not one change to the approach at all,” the third-year quarterback said. “I think you see every year, there are teams that get that type of label and often fall short, and you wonder why. I think that’s something we can’t really focus on. Take every day like we have the past year.”

That past year was nothing short of outstanding. Coach Sean McVay’s debut team ended the Rams’ streaks of 13 consecutive non-winning seasons and 12 straight non-playoff seasons with an 11-5 run to the team’s first NFC West title since 2003.

The league is ready to be challenged by McVay’s potent offensive schemes, Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley’s relentless running and Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald’s disruptive play in the middle of the defense.

The Rams must figure out how to adjust to their opponents’ anticipation with new twists and a renewed focus.

McVay seems confident his veteran players will be ready for the pitfalls of being a favorite this fall.

“Going into Year Two, there’s a comfort level of at least feeling like you know your players,” McVay said. “We feel really good about the core group of leaders, and about some of the younger players we’re going to expect to grow into leadership roles. It’s a great group of guys.”

The Rams kept intact much of last season’s roster, but their offseason additions are an eye-catching bunch: defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. All four have established themselves as elite NFL contributors, and their addition to an 11-win team shows why the Rams are getting Super Bowl talk.

But Talib realizes the Rams have to prove they know how to use all of that talent over the next five months before they can think about February.

“We aren’t talking about what’s going to happen down the road,” Talib said. “We take care of the little things, and then some time later we can talk about the playoffs.”

Here are some other things to know about the Rams:

BIG NUMBERS

The Rams probably won’t double the number of points they scored last season, which is a feat they actually accomplished in 2017. But McVay’s offense kept its entire line intact and added the speedy Cooks to replace Sammy Watkins. Almost everybody else returns, including Gurley, the scheme’s centerpiece. How McVay plans to use all this talent is partly a secret, since the coach decided to keep his entire starting offense out of the Rams’ four preseason games. The league must wait to see what innovations McVay has produced until the season opener in Oakland.

CORNER POCKETS

Peters and Talib have similar reputations as risk-taking, playmaking cornerbacks capable of shutting down a top receiver or changing a game with a big interception. The Rams haven’t had that swagger at the position for a long time, and their presence will allow coordinator Wade Phillips to be more aggressive against passers. Peters and Talib have also brought a confident attitude to a Los Angeles defense that relied on Donald’s brute brilliance inside to set up much of its success.

SUH AND DONALD

Suh looks very comfortable already in the Rams’ scheme, where he will be asked to play primarily at nose tackle for the first time in his career. Yet he still must learn how to play alongside Donald, whose second consecutive contract holdout has stretched to the brink of the regular season again. The Rams have a potentially fearsome combination in these two dominant defensive linemen, but Donald’s absence creates a large unknown.

IN THE MIDDLE

The front and back of the Rams’ defense appears solid, but the linebackers are under scrutiny. The Rams couldn’t fit their new defensive stars under the cap without trading Alec Ogletree, their leading tackler last season. Untested Cory Littleton is starting on the inside alongside Mark Barron, who has barely touched the field during camp and the preseason. Matt Longacre and Samson Ebukam also are expected to start in challenging roles. Phillips’ biggest task is making sure his linebackers don’t let down the rest of his roster.

THEY’RE SPECIAL

The Rams had four Pro Bowlers on special teams last year, and all four are returning: kick returner Pharoh Cooper, kicker Greg Zuerlein, punter Johnny Hekker and long snapper Jake McQuaide.

___

More AP NFL: www.apnews.com/tag/NFL and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL