January 19, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Jared Veldheer (68) before the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Packers’ Jared Veldheer gets 2nd postseason chance

Veteran offensive tackle Jared Veldheer could make NFL history if he takes the field for the Green Bay Packers against the Los Angeles Rams in their divisional playoff game on Saturday after signing with the team Monday, according to ESPN and the NFL Network.

Veldheer started at left tackle for the Indianapolis Colts in their loss to the Buffalo Bills in a wild-card game last weekend. He joined the Colts’ practice squad in late December.

Veldheer, who was retired for most of 2019 and most of 2020, is one snap away from becoming the first player in league history to play games for two teams in the same postseason.

Veldheer, 33, is allowed to sign with Green Bay because he was on the Colts’ practice squad and was promoted only for the Colts’ playoff game. He was not signed to the 53-man roster. He should be allowed to practice immediately because was in the Colts’ COVID-19 testing program.

Veldheer is no stranger to Green Bay. He started for the Packers at right tackle in last year’s NFC divisional playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks after Bryan Bulaga missed the game because he was sick. Veldheer came out of retirement to sign with the Packers in November 2019.

Now, Veldheer will likely team with Rick Wagner to replace left tackle David Bakhtiari, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL before the Packers’ final regular-season game against the Bears. Against Chicago, the Packers started Billy Turner and shifted Wagner to right tackle.

However, Wagner has been dealing with an ailing knee and didn’t practice during Green Bay’s bye week, which it earned as the top seed following a 13-3 regular season.

Veldheer would be called upon to help block Los Angeles’ All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who powered a unit that sacked Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson five times in a 30-20 win last Saturday.

Veldheer, who was drafted by Oakland in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, has played in 121 games, with 114 starts, during an 11-season career in which he played for Oakland, Arizona, Denver, Green Bay and Indianapolis.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the third quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Defense leads Rams to 30-20 victory over Seahawks

Cam Akers rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown and Darious Williams returned an interception for a score as the sixth-seeded Los Angeles Rams upset the host Seattle Seahawks 30-20 on Saturday in the opening round of the NFC playoffs.

Matt Gay kicked three field goals for the Rams and their defense allowed 278 yards of total offense against the third-seeded Seahawks, who had won their previous 10 postseason games at Lumen Field. Seattle’s last home playoff loss was to the St. Louis Rams in 2004.

“I have no place in my brain for this outcome,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.

Jared Goff, who suffered a fractured right thumb at Seattle two weeks ago that required surgery, came off the bench to guide the Rams, throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods with 4:46 remaining to help clinch the victory. Goff was 9 of 19 for 155 yards in place of starter John Wolford.

“We were going to fight hard for whoever was playing (quarterback),” Rams safety John Johnson III said.

Seattle’s Russell Wilson was 11 of 27 for 174 yards and two touchdowns, both to DK Metcalf. Wilson was sacked five times, twice each by Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd, and the Seahawks converted just 2 of 14 third-down attempts.

“When you get rushed like that, get sacked five times, against that group, it’s really tough … the pressure was hard, the coverage was good. He was up against it all day,” Carroll said.

Metcalf’s 12-yard touchdown reception with 2:28 pulled the Seahawks within 10 points, but Woods recovered the ensuing onside kick.

There were three touchdowns scored in a span of 4:48 late in the first half, giving Los Angeles a 20-10 lead.

With the Rams up 6-3, Williams jumped a Wilson screen pass intended for Metcalf, picked it off and went 42 yards for a touchdown with 6:46 left in the half.

Wilson scrambled to his left and lofted a ball over the secondary, finding Metcalf for a 51-yard touchdown with 3:43 remaining.

On third-and-9 from the Rams’ own 26-yard line, Goff hit Akers with a screen pass. The rookie took it 44 yards down the right sideline, setting up his own 5-yard touchdown run with 1:57 to go in the half. Akers, a second-round pick from Florida State, missed the Week 16 matchup between teams with an ankle injury as the Seahawks won 20-9, clinching the NFC West title.

“He’s made of the right junk,” Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth said about Akers. “His heart, his passion for the game is special.”

Wolford started at quarterback for the Rams and led them into field-goal range on their second possession before suffering a neck injury while being tackled by Seattle’s Jamal Adams. Wolford didn’t return and was taken to the hospital.

The Seahawks’ Chris Carson rushed for 77 yards and Jason Myers kicked 50- and 52-yard field goals.

–Field Level Media

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 18, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Michael Brockers (90) brings down New York Jets running back Frank Gore (21) after a short gain in the first quarter at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Rams DE Brockers joins WR Kupp on COVID-19 list

The Los Angeles Rams added another key player to the COVID-19/reserve list Thursday in advance of a key Week 17 home matchup with the Arizona Cardinals.

Defensive end Michael Brockers joined wide receiver Cooper Kupp on the list. While Kupp reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 and will not play Sunday, there is no indication if Brockers tested positive or was in close contact with somebody that did.

Brockers, whose reason for not practicing Wednesday was listed as “not injury related,” still could play Sunday if he was deemed to have a medium-risk close contact. He would not be able to play if he tested positive or had a high-risk contacted with somebody who was infected.

The Rams already will be without quarterback Jared Goff, who underwent surgery this week for a thumb injury that occurred during Sunday’s loss at Seattle. John Wolford, who has never taken a snap in an NFL game, will start against the Cardinals with a playoff spot on the line.

The Rams would advance to the playoffs with a victory over the Cardinals on Sunday or a Chicago Bears loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Cardinals need a victory to advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

The loss of Brockers would be a blow to a Rams defense that leads the NFL with 286.5 yards allowed per game. The unit also is third in points allowed in the NFL at 19.3 per game.

Brockers, who has 51 tackles and five sacks this season, is a team captain along with Kupp.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rams place WR Kupp on COVID-19 list

In advance of a possible must-win Week 17 game in order to advance to the playoffs, the Los Angeles Rams placed top wide receiver Cooper Kupp on the COVID-19/reserve list and signed veteran quarterback Blake Bortles to serve as a backup.

The Rams could have secured a playoff spot with victories in either of their last two games, but lost both, including one to the previously winless New York Jets. Now they face the Arizona Cardinals at home Sunday, with the season possibly on the line.

Kupp has been an integral part of an offense that has struggled of late. He has a team-best 92 receptions for 974 yards and three touchdowns.

The team has not said if Kupp tested positive or was in close contact with somebody who did. He is in self-quarantine and could possibly play Sunday if it was a close-contact situation and he later tests negative for COVID-19, while not showing symptoms.

If Kupp does play, he will be catching passes from backup quarterback John Wolford, who has never taken a snap in a regular-season game. Wolford is replacing starter Jared Goff, who had thumb surgery this week and was ruled out of Sunday’s game.

Bortles was signed off the Denver Broncos practice squad but is expected to be the third-string option behind Wolford and Bryce Perkins.

After five seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bortles spent last season with the Rams but saw action on just 11 snaps in three games with one 3-yard completion on two pass attempts.

The Rams will be without running back Darrell Henderson (ankle), who was placed on injured reserve, and could be without running back Cam Akers (ankle) as well after the rookie did not play in last week’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Rams can reach the playoffs with a victory over the Cardinals or a Chicago Bears loss to the Green Bay Packers.

–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

Dec 18, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) dives to avoid New York Jets cornerback Bryce Hall (37) during the first quarter at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Darnold, Jets top Rams for first win of 2020

Sam Darnold threw for 207 yards in his homecoming and the New York Jets pulled off their first victory of the season defeating the Los Angeles Rams 23-20 on Sunday at Inglewood, Calif.

The Jets’ defense held the Rams to just three points and 97 total yards in the first half, and 303 yards in the game, to avoid becoming the first team to go winless in a season since the Cleveland Browns in 2017.

The Rams (9-5) were more than two-touchdown favorites and needed a victory to become playoff eligible. Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw for 209 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while rookie Cam Akers overcame a first-half ankle injury to rush for 63 yards on 15 carries.

The Rams were driving for a potential go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter and were forced to go for the first down on fourth-and-4 from the Jets 37-yard line. But Jets safety Marcus Maye knocked down a pass intended for Rams tight end Gerald Everett to give New York the ball.

The Jets (1-13) ran out the clock from there to win a game for the first time since a season-ending victory over the Buffalo Bills in 2019.

The Jets had a 23-10 lead entering the fourth quarter, before the Rams cut the deficit to 23-17 on Goff’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Higbee with 13:47 remining.

The Rams pulled within 23-20 on a 42-yard field goal from Matt Gay with 6:35 remaining. They settled for the field goal after it appeared Akers scored the game-tying touchdown on an 18-yard run, only for it to be called back because of a holding penalty against lineman Austin Corbett.

Darnold, a former first-round draft pick out of Southern California, threw an 18-yard TD pass to Ty Johnson in the first quarter, while Sam Ficken made two second-quarter field goals to give the Jets a 13-0 lead.

The Rams did not score in the first half until Gay made a 45-yard field goal on the final play before halftime.

The Jets made it 20-3 on a 1-yard run by Frank Gore with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter.

Goff also threw a third-quarter touchdown pass to Robert Woods, but Los Angeles’ offense could not overcome a stagnant first half when it had just six first downs and two of those in the final minute before the break.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ascending Rams seek to ground winless Jets

The Los Angeles Rams could receive their Christmas gift a bit early, in the form of a game on Sunday against the winless New York Jets.

The meeting will come at home for Los Angeles, which is deep in a battle for an NFC West title.

The Rams (9-4), who missed the playoffs last year after going to the Super Bowl the year before, are not overlooking the Jets (0-13), who are two-touchdown underdogs.

“The difference between winning teams and losing teams is razor thin,” Rams receiver Cooper Kupp said. “There’s too many great football players and too many great coaches in this league to ever take any team for granted.”

The Rams would prefer to be on solid footing heading into a collision for the division title next weekend at Seattle. The Rams and Seahawks are tied for the top spot in the NFC West, with Los Angeles defeating its rival earlier this season.

The Jets have long been ousted from playoff consideration, but they haven’t been a complete walkover on their road to an 0-13 record. The Las Vegas Raiders needed a touchdown pass with five seconds remaining for a Dec. 6 victory. New York also put together a late rally against the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 22 only to fall short in a 34-28 setback.

That loss against the Chargers came in the same Southern California venue where Sunday’s game will take place. The Rams are 5-1 in their new $5 billion shared stadium, though that one defeat did come to a team with a losing record: the San Francisco 49ers.

Since that Week 12 loss, the Rams have pushed past the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots, with last Thursday’s victory over New England yet another impressive defensive performance.

The Rams head into Week 15 leading the NFL in yards allowed per game (285.8), while they are third in both points allowed (18.9) and total sacks (42).

On offense, quarterback Jared Goff is eighth in yards passing per game (269.9), while running back Cam Akers is coming off a 171-yard performance. Akers is the first Rams rookie to run for more than 160 yards in a game since Jerome Bettis in 1993.

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, a Southern California alum, will return home this weekend but a cordial welcome is not expected. The Rams’ defense is also No. 1 against the pass at 191.7 yards per game.

Darnold will enter off a 132-yard, no-touchdown passing performance at Seattle last weekend, against a Seahawks defense that allows an NFL-worst 294.8 yards against the pass. The Jets are second worst at 286.8.

“It’s not just (Darnold), it also has to be the guys around him,” Jets coach Adam Gase said about earning victory No. 1. “Everyone has to do their job, linebackers, running backs, wide receivers. He can make the right decision on reads, but he can’t catch it and make the guys be in the right spots. He’s the easy guy to blame. (You) need 11.”

Jets receiver Jamison Crowder (calf) did not practice Wednesday, while linebacker Jordan Jenkins (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve and is done for the season. Darnold (ankle) was on Wednesday’s injury report but was a full participant in practice.

Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis (knee), who has missed the last three games, was back at practice Wednesday. Receiver Robert Woods (thigh) missed practice but is expected to play Sunday.

–Field Level Media