Check out photos of the Los Angeles Rams during practice in preparation for Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Rams will face off against the Colts on Sunday to kick off the regular season. And while Los Angeles plans to bring the majority of its top players to the field for Sunday's kickoff, Indianapolis will be without one of its best — quarterback Andrew Luck.
There has been plenty of speculation as to Luck's Week 1 status after the quarterback spent the preseason on the physically unable to perform list, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. While Luck was taken off PUP, Colts general manager Chris Ballard confirmed on Monday morning that Luck will miss the season opener. Quarterback Scott Tolzien was named the starter.
But Luck won't be the only one sidelined for Indianapolis on Sunday. The visitors will also be without their starting center, Ryan Kelly, who is "week to week" with a foot injury and their primary cornerback, Vontae Davis, who is out with a groin injury.
And although the Rams defense will be up against a "Luck-less" Colts, Los Angeles is still gearing up for the game as if the starting quarterback was the one taking the field.
"You still have to prepare, it's still the first week," cornerback Trumaine Johnson said Monday. "We're going out there like nothing has changed. Ready to compete."
The last time Johnson played against Indianapolis was in 2013. Early in the second quarter, Johnson intercepted a short pass from Luck at the goal line to bring up fourth down. The Rams would go on to shock the Colts, winning 38-8. Johnson said he had hoped for the chance to play against Luck once again this weekend.
"Oh of course, always," Johnson said. "He's one of the good ones in this league. The last year I played him, I got an interception off of him, so I was looking forward to that."
But Johnson and the rest of the defense are not taking Tolzien for granted.
"He's a good quarterback," Johnson said of Luck, "but Tolzien is a good quarterback too."
"Week 1 we have to prepare like Luck was going to be there, but they announced today that he wasn't, so we'll be ready for the backup. We'll be ready for him when he get's in there," middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said after practice on Monday . "...Everybody's good and they're definitely going to come out here to play and give us their best shot, so we have to be ready to play this Sunday."
Tolzien, a sixth-year pro, started in all four of the Colts' preseason games this year, completing 23-of-34 passes for 241 yards with two interceptions.
The Rams defense looked strong throughout the preseason and will be returning the majority of its projected starters, including linebacker Mark Barron and outside linebacker Robert Quinn, as well as cornerback Kayvon Webster. Middle linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive tackle Michael Brockers will also suit up for Sunday's game.
Head coach Sean McVay said Monday that Luck's absence will not change the team's game plan moving forward and expressed his excitement at kicking off the regular season.
"Our mindset and mentality is that we're going against a great opponent and we've got to be ready to go," head coach Sean McVay agreed. "So, it doesn't change anything for us. We know we've got to have a great week or preparation and looking forward to seeing how Sunday goes."