The Los Angeles Rams have been limited this season due to injury and it has not favored them in the standings.
After not having Cooper Kupp for the first four games, the Rams have already seen their players take their bumps and bruises during the NFL season.
Los Angeles has 10 players on its injury report as of Friday and of those 10, only tight end Hunter Long has been a full participant in practice, due to a hamstring injury. There were a few players – punter Ethan Evans and wide receivers Austin Trammell and Ben Skowronek – who logged full practices on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday.
Related: Full Rams Injury Report
“Some of that is rep modification, some of it can be semantical, so it does challenge you a little bit, but once you get to this part in the season, you’ve got to be creative with how you navigate through Wednesdays in general,” head coach Sean McVay said about the handful players on the injury report after Wednesday’s practice.
But it gets worse.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has not practiced due to his right thumb UCL injury he sprained last week
Stafford, who was attempting to throw a sidearm pass, hit his thumb on an incoming Dallas defender during last week’s 43-20 loss.
The team listed Stafford as questionable on Friday, not making any decision about him playing until Sunday when the Rams go on the road to face the Green Bay Packers at 1 p.m. ET.
McVay, who said earlier this week that Stafford was day-to-day, spoke about his starting quarterback and giving him as much time as possible before Sunday’s game.
“It’s one of those deals that you give him up until right before the game,” McVay said. “You use all the time necessary for a player like him.”
Los Angeles Rams’ Contingency Plans
Part A: Stafford Plays. What Happens?
Because of the thumb injury, the critical thing to watch leading up to kickoff will be if Stafford can grip the ball because the ailment is on his throwing hand.
Then, the next step is how well he can pass the ball and whether he can tolerate the pain.
If he is able to throw the ball sometime between Friday’s practice and 60-90 minutes before kickoff on Sunday and throw it accurately enough for the trainers and coaches to be confident, then he will play.
During the game, especially during the team’s first couple of drives, it will be watching Stafford and seeing if he grimaces after any throws, trying not to force himself to be out there as the halfway point to the season arrives. The trainers might have Stafford wear a glove to protect the thumb.
Whether Stafford plays or not, there will probably be some limitations to him and the offense. On top of gripping the ball, the next question will also be how well he can hand the ball off to running backs Darrell Henderson Jr. and Royce Freeman. Because of the thumb injury on the right hand, the strategy might be leaning on the two running backs instead of throwing it close to 30 times per game.
Part B: Stafford Does Not Play. What Happens?
If the trainers and Sean McVay decide to not let their Super Bowl-winning quarterback play, that means it will most likely be Brett Rypien to lead the offense.
Not having Stafford play on Sunday could also be a wise decision because Los Angeles has its bye week after their matchup in Green Bay, giving Stafford 21 days to recover before the Rams face Seattle on Nov. 19 in Week 11.
McVay said it is all about how Stafford feels and will be ready if the team shifts to Rypien.
“I think you want to get his feedback,” McVay said Friday. “See how he’s doing. You certainly don’t want to close the window. We’re prepared if Brett’s going. If there’s anything that would leave him susceptible to injury or further damage than this, it’s non-negotiable and you defer to the doctors.”
Rypien came in on the second drive of the second half after Stafford came out of the game.
Rypien completed 5-of-10 passes for 42 yards over the final four Rams’ drives to end the contest.
As a result of Stafford’s injury, the team elevated quarterback Dresser Winn from the practice squad on Wednesday as Rypien’s backup against the Packers.
If Rypien gets the start, the Boise State alum will record his first start in a Rams uniform at a crucial point in the season. Going into the bye week with a loss against a struggling Packers team is not going to be the taste the team wants to have for two weeks. In addition, getting to 4-5 will put the Rams in a better position instead of being 3-6 and losing to two straight NFC teams.
Will the Rams let Rypien rip?