Even though the Los Angeles Rams have advanced to the NFC Championship Game and are one win away from the Super Bowl, they have done so without some key players.
In the divisional-round win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two of the notable players that weren’t able to suit up were left tackle Andrew Whitworth and safety Taylor Rapp.
Whitworth has been dealing with a knee injury that he suffered in the Wild Card win over the Arizona Cardinals, while Rapp has been in concussion protocols and has missed the last two games.
It appears both are making progress though as Sean McVay expects both to be able to play against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, via Stu Jackson of TheRams.com:
Rams head coach Sean McVay on Monday said offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth (knee) and safety Taylor Rapp (concussion) are both on track to play in Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the 49ers (3:30 p.m. pacific time, FOX).
Whitworth is responding well to treatment expected to practice this week, and Rapp – who has been in concussion protocol – has “ramped up some of the physical activity,” according to McVay.
Part of the reason the Rams didn’t skip a beat without of key player like Whitworth against the Buccaneers was the play of his replacement Joseph Noteboom. While Noteboom was spectacular, he did suffer a pectoral injury towards the end of the game that will require some monitoring throughout the week:
Meanwhile, the Rams will monitor offensive lineman Joe Noteboom – who started in place of Whitworth against the Bucs – this week after he suffered a strained pec on the Rams’ game-winning drive on Sunday. Noteboom still finished the game, playing all 72 snaps.
Other players that haven’t been able to suit up for the Rams in the playoffs yet include linebacker Ernest Jones, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and running back Darrell Henderson.
The Rams opened up the window for all to return from IR last week, but it appears Jones has the highest chance of returning this week:
Additionally, among the players who were designated for return from Injured Reserve last week, McVay said linebacker Ernest Jones has the best chance to come back this week.
Given the way the 49ers have attacked Rams linebackers in the past, getting Jones back for this game would certainly represent good news for L.A.
Even if he is not able to go though, Troy Reeder and Travon Howard have played well the last few weeks in his absence.