The Rams held a light non-padded session on Monday afternoon at Cal Lutheran. After taking on the 49ers in Santa Clara on Thursday night, the team will be on the road once again this weekend travelling to Dallas to face the Cowboys.
Thursday night’s 41-39 victory over the Niners was not without its share of injuries. On Friday night, head coach Sean McVay announced that wide receivers Tavon Austin and Sammy Watkins had been placed in the concussion protocol.
“We’ll continue to monitor them,” he said, “and hopefully we’ll get some good news on them in the upcoming days.”
Per the NFL’s concussion rules, an unaffiliated neurologist will need to clear both players before they can participate fully in practice or suit up for Sunday’s game.
Safety Lamarcus Joyner exited Thursday’s game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter, while center John Sullivan suffered a groin injury early in the third quarter. Both did not return to game action and were characterized as “day-to-day” by McVay.
An official injury report will be issued on Wednesday when the Rams officially begin their practice week for the Cowboys.
BLYTHE READY TO STEP UP IF NEEDED
Sullivan, who has been a central part of the offensive line’s overall improvement this season, was unable to return to Thursday’s game after suffering a groin injury in the third quarter.
Even without its starting center, the Rams offense was able to keep its rhythm going in the second half, running and passing the ball effectively, thanks in large part to backup center Austin Blythe. Blythe —who took Sullivan’s place on Thursday — was able to almost seamlessly fill the void left on the line and is ready to take the field again on Sunday if needed.
“I’m feeling good,” Blythe said about this week. “Everybody in here is a professional, and everybody has to be ready to go. I think I was on Thursday and throughout this week, if that’s the case where I’m having to start a game, I’ll be equally as ready and I look forward to it.”
Blythe played 36 snaps and did an effective job of keeping the pocket clean. He earned the game ball for his efforts and was met with high praise from both McVay and quarterback Jared Goff.
“Austin Blythe did excellent. He did a great job,” McVay said. “I think there were a couple things that we can always clean up, but, in terms of taking command, controlling some of the calls that are required up front because we do put a lot on our center, I’m very pleased with Austin.”
This week, with Sullivan’s status still unknown, the backup center said he is ready to improve his performance in practice and will be prepared should his number be called.
“Anytime you play football there are always going to be things you can correct and there certainly were on Thursday. But overall I feel good about the job that I did going in and helping the team get a W,” he said. “And at the end of the day, that’s what it was, it was a win.”
“We’re all professionals in this locker room,” he added. “It was my job to be ready when I went in there and it just comes down to being a professional and doing your job.”
SCOUTING THE COWBOYS
While Thursday’s win was a dominant showcase by the offense, who have already accumulated two 40 point games this season, it was another tough week for the defense.
Through three games, the Rams have struggled significantly with their run defense, allowing both the Redskins and 49ers to accumulate at least 200 yards from scrimmage. And though the defense was impressive in the team’s season opener against the Colts, where Indianapolis scored just nine points, they have since given up 66 points in two games.
Fortunately for the Rams, the defense has extra time this week to prepare for Dallas, while the Cowboys will be coming off a Monday Night Football matchup against the Cardinals. And with a players’ day off for the Rams on Tuesday, many defensive players said they would be spending their Monday night getting a leg up on scouting the competition.
“I know they are a tough team, I know they were 13-3 last year and a playoff team and we’re playing them in their house,” nose tackle Michael Brockers said. “We’re going to get their best shot and we have to expect that and prepare for it. So, of course, I’m going to do a little TV scouting, see what I see and I’ll probably rewatch the game tomorrow.”
“For sure, definitely going to watch them on TV tonight,” Ogletree said, “but I’ll still watch it on my iPad too. We will get a little early start on them while they’re playing, but it will be a good game this week.”
The last time the Rams faced the Cowboys was in 2014 where Dallas came back from a 21-0 deficit to stun the Rams 34-31. In two years, however, both teams have changed significantly and Los Angeles is ready for the added challenge they will face on Sunday.
“They have a whole different quarterback, [but] Dez Bryant is still there and Jason Witten is there,” Ogletree said. “It’s changed a little bit for sure, but they have a lot of guys that have been there a while and with the young talent that they have up there, it’s a high-powered offense. They have a game tonight and I’m sure they’re ready for it and when it comes time to play us, they’re going to be ready to play and we have to do the same.”
“They have a solid offensive line and they’re just a great team overall,” Donald said. “They have running backs, they have guys on the outside, a good offensive line, they make a lot of plays. So we just have to do what we have to do — play solid football, stop the run and get at the quarterbacks.”