Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth fortunately avoided a season-ending knee injury in Week 10, but the setback will still sideline him for the next 6-8 weeks.
In glimpses shown via social media, Whitworth is doing everything he can to return to action as soon as possible. His Los Angeles teammates are equally motivated to finish the season strong so that whenever he returns, L.A. is in a position to keep playing.
"I think it's very motivating, absolutely," Goff said during a video conference Thursday. "I think when you initially see the injury you go, 'that could be it for him.' You think the worst right away. But seeing the way he's attacked this already in the first handful of days here is super exciting, and I would expect nothing less. I mean, all of us wouldn't."
Based on that estimated timeline, the soonest Whitworth could potentially return would be Week 17 – the Rams' regular season finale against the Cardinals. While there's no doubting Whitworth has the ability to hit that target, should he need another week to fully heal before Los Angeles is comfortable returning him to game action, remaining in the playoff picture becomes the safest way to allow him to play again this season.
As it currently stands, the Rams are in good shape. They're currently the No. 6 seed in NFC and sit second in their division heading into Monday night's game against the 7-3 Buccaneers in Tampa Bay (5:15 p.m. PT, ABC7/ESPN). Take care of business in Weeks 11-16, and the postseason outlook becomes a lot brighter, Whitworth's potential Week 17 return more impactful.
"Knowing he's grinding so hard to get back, it motivates us to do a good job when he's gone, so when he does come back, he'll have a good spot, we'll have a won a lot of games," said offensive lineman Joe Noteboom, who will start in place of Whitworth at left tackle while Whitworth is on injured reserve. "Just matching his intensity with how he's approaching rehab."
Whitworth is determined to return after six weeks, and his teammates are determined to have the Rams in the best possible position by then and reward him for his efforts. Though injured, he'll also expound as much energy as he can to help them accomplish that from the sidelines.
"I know he's going to attack every opportunity to give himself a chance to play, whether it's at the end of the regular season, or if we get a chance to play afterwards," Rams head coach Sean McVay said during a video conference on Monday. "We've got a lot of stuff that we've got to do in the meantime to even be talking about that. But I know he's going to influence this team the right way."
Take a look at photos from Thursday's LA Rams practice as they prepare for Monday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.