Noteboom Fills in Admirably for Whitworth at Left Tackle

Seeing any All-Pro player go down during an important Week 17 contest can be scary in the moment.

That's what happened on Sunday, when left tackle Andrew Whitworth had to exit the game in the second quarter with a knee injury.

But as it is with any injury in football, there's a next man up. And for the Rams at left tackle, that was rookie offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom.

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A third-round pick out of TCU, Noteboom has filled in occasionally for Whitworth throughout the year — and gotten in some time during blowout victories. But this was an important moment for Noteboom, as the Rams were in the middle of trying to clinch a first-round bye.

Nevertheless, Noteboom said after Sunday's 48-32 victory that he wasn't nervous to play.

"If any of the four guards tackles get hurt, I have to go in," Noteboom said. "I didn't feel nervous or anything, just anxious to get out there because I prepare well. In practice, get those reps — the ones reps. So I feel like I was really prepared. The coaches had me prepared, so I wasn't nervous at all."

And it's true, Noteboom often gets practice reps during the week when L.A. elects to rest veterans Whitworth and center John Sullivan on the offensive line. So Noteboom and fellow rookie, center Brian Allen, have developed a rapport with Goff and the rest of the first-team offensive unit.

Check out the best photos from the Rams' Week 17 matchup against the 49ers.

Last week, run game coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer noted how valuable those practice snaps are.

"When they get those reps, then they feel good about playing in the games and that's continued throughout the year," Kromer said. "It's no different from Austin Blythe last year getting the opportunity to play center and guard in practice a lot and giving him that boost and ready to play this year."

That came through on Sunday, with head coach Sean McVay noting on Monday how well the rookie played against San Francisco. Noteboom ended up being in for the majority of offensive snaps for L.A.

"I thought he did a great job," McVay said. "Came in, you could just see, very seamless for him, great athleticism. I thought he protected really well. He had a good understanding of what we're trying to get done in the run game. It was encouraging for both he and Brian to get as many snaps as they did yesterday and perform the way that they did against a really tough defensive front. So, I thought Joe was great."

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