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Rams to start Carson Wentz at QB vs. 49ers in Week 18, rest Matthew Stafford and some other starters

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Rams head coach Sean McVay on Wednesday confirmed the team will start Carson Wentz at quarterback on Sunday against the 49ers (1:25 p.m. PT, FOX) and rest Matthew Stafford.

"I'm excited about Carson's opportunity," McVay said after Wednesday's practice, explaining the decision. "Obviously a guy that's had a lot of success in this league. He'll have the full offensive line and some really good players around him. But just excited to be able to see him go compete, do his thing. But when you look at the totality of it, just balancing what do you think is best? And there's not a perfect solution, especially when you're talking about 53 guys, 48 active, you've got the ability to flex two up (from the practice squad), we do have a couple of injuries. And so this was just what we felt like was the best thing, but I do think it offers an opportunity for Carson to go play, and we're excited to see him do his thing."

Went said he found out Monday afternoon that he would be starting, and knew there would be a chance of doing so, or at least seeing some playing time with the way Week 17 unfolded with the Rams clinching a playoff spot.

Wentz has appeared in one game since signing with the Rams in mid-November, playing three offensive snaps in relief of Stafford late in Los Angeles' 37-14 Week 12 road win over the Arizona Cardinals. He did not record any stats.

"I've been preparing to be ready in whatever capacity I can help this team anyway, so I'm excited for it," Wentz said of the opportunity this Sunday.

That preparation has included extensive time spent around quarterbacks coach and pass game coordinator Zac Robinson, which McVay has previously noted.

The partnership began with Robinson onboarding Wentz to the offense through Zoom meetings when Wentz first arrived in Los Angeles and grew into Wentz consistently spending extra time with Robinson after practice. Wentz joked Wednesday he felt like he was "driving him nuts" with all of his questions for Robinson.

"I kind of say I'm sorry, I feel like I'm a pain in his butt, because I'm keeping him extra normally, because all of the plays Matthew walks through, I want to walk through with just him, too," Wentz said with a smile. "He's been awesome. He's been nothing but help."

Wentz will take over the starter reps in practice this week, with recently-signed practice squad quarterback Dresser Winn backing him up, per McVay.

"And we'll adjust a couple of things for tomorrow's practice, today was just walkthrough-oriented," McVay said. "He took all the reps, did a really good job of managing the operation, and you can feel even just from the first day that he was here, I thought he did a really good job with the overall operation. The communication, just the eye contact with the other 10 guys, you can just feel if a guy's been in the huddle and had good command. He had a really good presence and I thought he did a nice job today."

Besides Stafford, the Rams will also rest starters Kyren Williams, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and Ernest Jones IV, according to McVay.

McVay said that in a situation like that when starters are told they're being rested, he's mindful of contract incentives that may be at stake for players, but they try to ensure they still accommodate players who are close to those incentives so that they are not penalized for a big picture approach for the team.

"I think what you want to understand is, alright, are any of these guys potentially affected from some incentives (standpoints)," McVay said. "Matthew's played long enough, he's had so much success and earned all the accolades and the credit that he gets, but I think he understands the big picture, as does an Aaron and a Cooper and these guys that have played a lot of football. I think they understood the approach. You always talk through those things with those guys, but you are mindful of, alright, are there potential incentives."

Meanwhile, McVay indicated he will give wide receiver Puka Nacua, who is four receptions and 29 receiving yards away from breaking each of those respective NFL rookie records, the chance to do so on Sunday.

"I think you'd like to be able to see him get an opportunity to do something special, and then be smart with him," McVay said.

McVay said two veterans who will not play Sunday due to injury are offensive lineman Joe Noteboom and tight end Tyler Higbee.

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