The Rams ushered in the month of December with a light non-padded session on Friday morning. L.A. will hold a final walk-thru on Saturday at Cal Lutheran before heading to Arizona to take on the division-rival Cardinals.
The Rams received some positive news on the injury front going into Sunday.
Linebacker Mark Barron (non-injury related), center John Sullivan (non-injury related), left tackle Andrew Whitworth (non-injury related), tight end Tyler Higbee (illness), and cornerback Kayvon Webster (ankle) all returned to practice on Friday as full participants. As such, they’re expected to play on Sunday.
Wide receiver Robert Woods (shoulder) and outside linebacker Connor Barwin (forearm) are the only Rams ruled out of the Week 13 contest. Rounding out the club’s injury report were running backs Lance Dunbar (knee) and Malcolm Brown. Although both were full participants in Friday’s session, they are questionable to play on Sunday.
Should both be able to play, offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said it will help in keeping running back Todd Gurley fresh.
“We have a lot of confidence in both of those guys going in and being able to execute the same way that when Todd’s in the game,” LaFleur said. “So yeah, it allows us to keep [Gurley] a little more fresh so that when it gets down in the crunch time, he’s got a full head of steam behind him.”
Check out photos from practice as the Rams prepare to face the Cardinals in Week 13.
For Arizona, wide receiver John Brown (toe), linebacker (ankle), safety Rudy Ford (knee), and defensive lineman Corey Peters (ankle) were ruled out by head coach Bruce Arians and will not participate on Sunday.
Defensive lineman Josh Mauro (ankle) and tight end Troy Niklas (back/knee) will be questionable to play.
But the biggest name on the Cardinals’ injury report is running back Adrian Peterson (neck) who is questionable to play on Sunday after not participating in practice all week. According to www.azcardinals.com, Arians said Peterson will be a “game-time decision.”
NOT COUNTING OUT THE CARDINALS
Sunday will mark the second time this season that the Rams have faced off against the Cardinals. Just a few weeks ago, L.A. shut out Arizona, 33-0 in London, taking home the club’s biggest victory over the Cardinals in series history.
And while many outside of the building are referring to Sunday’s contest as a potential “trap game” for Los Angeles, the players inside the locker room don’t see it that way.
“I don’t think there are any trap games in the NFL,” wide receiver Josh Reynolds said. “Every team has the ability to beat you. Each week you have to play all out. So I know there is not that mindset in this locker room about it being a trap game.”
Left guard Rodger Saffold, the longest-tenured Ram, has played against the Cardinals 15 teams over his eight seasons. He said that regardless of records, every time you go up against a division rival the intensity is heightened — pointing to the many “close battles” between the clubs in the past.
“I expect it to be a tough-fought game. I expect them to make plays, and I expect there to be a little bit of adversity that we have to overcome in order to win the game,” Saffold said. “This is a real game, and we are going to have to play our best if we want to win.”
Saffold went on to describe how Arizona has rebounded over the past five weeks since the two teams last met. He believes that the 5-6 Cardinals could just as easily have at least seven wins.
“You can’t count out the Cardinals. This is a good game with a good team,” he said. “Their record doesn’t show it, but they’ve been in a lot of close games that they just weren’t able to come out with a win.”
This week the Rams expect the Cardinals to come out with a chip on their shoulders. As such, in order to win on Sunday, L.A. will need to be at its best.
“We just know being in the league, how the league works — whether it’s the best team or the worst team in the league,” running back Todd Gurley said. “So, you have to come and bring it each weekend.”
*MY CAUSE, MY CLEATS *
At the end of every practice report this week, theRams.com will highlight one Rams player participating in the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats campaign. The initiative is the culmination of collaborative work between the NFL and players across the league — allowing them to showcase personal causes on field in Week 13.
One of the 28 Rams participating in Sunday’s campaign is rookie tight end Gerald Everett.
On Sunday, Everett will be wearing cleats in support of the American Heart Association, particularly for individuals with high blood pressure. The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Everett said the decision to partner with the American Heart Association was easy, because high blood pressure is “something that runs in my family.”
“Some of my close and immediate family members have that and I see the daily struggles that they go through with it,” he said. “I want to help raise awareness for it and get people to know more about it.”
As a rookie, this will be Everett’s first year participating in the initiative. He believes My Cause, My Cleats is a unique way to allow NFL players to “get active with organizations” in their community and be able “to join a huge brand like that, while being able to build up our own brands.”
Like many others on the team, Everett is hopeful that the initiative will allow the outside community to see NFL players in a new light.
“We get caught in a nutshell that all we do is play football, make a ton of money, and do whatever we want to do,” Everett said. “But stuff like this when we’re able to reach out into the community and help raise awareness for different diseases and sicknesses is monumental.”