INGLEWOOD, Calif. – As if the Rams' injury luck couldn't get any worse, head coach Sean McVay watched as starting left tackle Joe Noteboom got carted off the field early in the second quarter, and later ruled out for the game, with an ankle injury.
"It's unbelievable, isn't it?" McVay said postgame.
Fortunately, Los Angeles had two stabilizing forces between Alaric Jackson and Oday Aboushi, with Jackson holding it down in place of Noteboom at left tackle and Aboushi stepping up for Jackson at right guard in its 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
"I mean I feel sick for Joe Noteboom, but what a stud AJ Jackson was to pivot from right guard to left tackle. He was outstanding all day," McVay said. "Oday Aboushi, I just met this guy a couple weeks ago and he is playing the whole game, doing a great job."
Jackson has been a critical piece to the offensive line with his ability to multiple spots, which was aided in part by getting reps at both guard and tackle during training camp and the preseason this year.
Beyond that cross-training, that he made that switch to left tackle so seamlessly shouldn't come as a shock, given it's his natural position and he played it all of last year. When forced into action there against the Vikings in Week 16 last year, Jackson graded out well – Pro Football Focus said he allowed only two pressures and one hit, and didn't give up a single sack.
"Things happen, just roll with it for the most part," Jackson told theRams.com postgame.
That doesn't mean it's easy, though – just ask right tackle Rob Havenstein.
"If I had to go right to left, I would fall down," Havenstein told theRams.com postgame, smiling. "I've been doing right tackle for awhile now, so. I could do right guard, but I don't know if I could do anything on the left side. But just for AJ, kind of having the back-and-forth in camp, played a little guard, played right tackle, played left tackle, so he's got some experience with it. But it just shows the capability of A.J."
After Jackson moved to the outside, Havenstein spent the rest of game constantly talking to Aboushi, who was signed the Practice Squad on Sept. 14 and promoted to the Active Roster six days later.
Havenstein made sure to answer any questions Aboushi had. To that end, Havenstein said Aboushi's communication was "great." And likely reflective of someone with 73 career games under their belt.
"I think he's a confident guy who communicates very well, and that's something that this team needed desperately," Havenstein said.
With Aboushi at right guard and Jackson at left tackle, the Rams engineered back-to-back touchdown-scoring drives in the second half to pull away from the Panthers and snap a two-game losing streak.
"I think it was good," Jackson said of the Rams offense's overall performance. "A step in the right direction for the most part. Use this as an opportunity to grow."