Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II (23) tackles Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. (27) during the second half of an Indianapolis Colts game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Rams won 27-24.

Rams’ Sean McVay hopes RB Darrell Henderson (rib) can play Sunday

Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay expressed optimism that Darrell Henderson may be active for this Sunday’s home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the running back was injured a day earlier.

In the second half of the Rams’ 27-24 win at Indianapolis on Sunday, Henderson was removed from the game in the second half with an injury.

McVay told reporters Monday that the third-year running back had a rib cartilage injury, and that the team would check back with Henderson on Friday to see how he is progressing.

Henderson, 24, entered the season as the Rams’ top running back after 2020 rookie sensation Cam Akers ruptured his Achilles during training camp, ending his season before he even played a down. Henderson has gotten off to a solid start, averaging over 4.0 yards per carry in each of the Rams’ victories and scoring a touchdown in each game.

In two games, Henderson has rushed 29 times for 123 yards and caught four passes for 46 yards.

If Henderson can’t play this weekend, the likely replacement will be Sony Michel. The former New England Patriot carried 10 times for 46 yards, all in the fourth quarter, after replacing Henderson against the Colts.

–Field Level Media

Jun 8, 2021; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA;  Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay smiles during mini camp held at the practice facility at Cal State Lutheran. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Rams coach Sean McVay ‘in a better mood’ since Matthew Stafford trade

Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay gladly acknowledges that the team’s acquisition of quarterback Matthew Stafford in exchange for Jared Goff is keeping him in high spirits.

“I think I’ve been very happy,” McVay said when asked Thursday about the March swap. “Everybody says, ‘Man, you just seem like you’re in a better mood this offseason,’ and I said, ‘Damn right I am.’”

The Rams made it to Super Bowl LIII after the 2018 season behind Goff, a two-time Pro Bowler and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. However, Goff’s play declined since then, and reports after the 2020 season indicated that the McVay-Goff relationship had splintered.

Earlier this year, the Rams decided to replace him with Stafford, who had mutually agreed with the Detroit Lions to part ways.

McVay talked up Stafford at a news conference Thursday arranged by the committee running next year’s Super Bowl in Inglewood, Calif.

“This guy, he’s a special guy,” McVay, 35, said about Stafford, 33. “I think one of the best ways that I can describe him when you hear people that have been around him, there’s a known confidence where when he walks into a room, you feel his presence, but he’s got a great humility about himself. Everybody loves being around him, and he’s one of those guys that’s a true igniter. He makes everybody around him better.”

Los Angeles sent Goff, two first-round picks and a third-rounder to Detroit to land what it saw as a quarterback upgrade. At the time, Goff seemed a bit blindsided.

“I’m just excited to be somewhere that I know wants me and appreciates me,” Goff told NFL Network after the trade.

Stafford will seek a fresh start in Los Angeles after spending the first 12 seasons of his career with the Lions. For his career, Stafford has thrown for 45,109 yards and 282 touchdowns versus 144 interceptions — almost a 2:1 TD-to-INT ratio. However, Detroit only managed to make the playoffs just three times and post double-digit wins twice during the Stafford era.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) holds up a finger as he is carted off the field during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

McVay: Whitworth’s injury likely not season-ending

While Los Angeles Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth won’t be playing anytime soon because of a knee injury, coach Sean McVay is finding some relief that the 15-year veteran could return later this season.

Whitworth, who was injured in the second quarter of Los Angeles’ Sunday win and needed to be carted off the field, was diagnosed with a grade 3 MCL and PCL tear in his left knee, McVay said Monday. His ACL was said to be intact, however.

“We were all worried it was for sure going to be season-ending,” McVay said, “and that’s not going to be the case.”

McVay added Whitworth would be out “for a handful of time” and that the tackle was going on injured reserve with no certainty whether he would be out for six or eight weeks.

Whitworth was hurt in the Rams’ 23-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks when he banged into Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright and ended up on the ground. Rams quarterback Jared Goff was sacked on the play.

Whitworth spent his first 11 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before signing with the Rams prior to the 2017 season. The two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl selection has played all 16 games in a season 11 times and started 220 of his 224 games overall.

Whitworth’s spot on the line falls to Joe Noteboom, who is in his third season out of TCU. He has played in 25 games, including three this season. Noteboom started twice this year, and he filled in for Whitworth after the injury on Sunday.

The Rams are tied with the Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals at 6-3 atop the NFC West. Los Angeles plays at Tampa Bay next Monday night.

–Field Level Media

Oct 4, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (15) is brought down by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Giants’ Judge: Ramsey threw first punch at Tate

A day after postgame fight broke out between New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate and Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Giants coach Joe Judge on Monday said he believed it was Ramsey who threw the first punch and Tate who was defending himself.

Television cameras caught the brawl around midfield shortly after the host Rams defeated the Giants 17-9. Players from both teams appeared to be trying to break up a fight on the ground, and reports surfaced that Ramsey and Tate were indeed the ones on the ground.

The spat stems from a family matter between the two — Ramsey has two children with Tate’s sister, but the two are no longer a couple.

“I’ll say this. First off, I don’t want (co-owners) John Mara, Steve Tisch or anybody involved with this team to have to deal with something like this after the game,” Judge said. “This isn’t why we play the game. We have 60 minutes to beat the hell out of each other legally between the whistles. We don’t need anything extra after. I talked to a number of our players, then obviously, we saw some video on it of guys who were involved.”

“Look, all I can say is the account I got from a number of our players was that, there’s a history, obviously, between them,” he continued. “There was a punch thrown. Golden was defending himself. I was told he wasn’t the one who threw the punch. Everybody involved was trying to break it up.”

When asked if he would impose any sort of discipline on Tate, Judge said, “Based on the information I was given and what I saw with my own eyes and what our players gave me, it didn’t sound like there’s an immediate need for that. But we’ll look into it. Obviously, we’ll always take care of our players.”

ESPN reported Monday that the NFL is not expected to suspend either player.

The Rams and McVay have yet to speak to the media Monday.

–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.

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