Rams News: Andrew Whitworth & Taylor Rapp Ruled Out Against Buccaneers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay announced that left tackle Andrew Whitworth and safety Taylor Rapp will be held out against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in the NFC divisional round.

Whitworth suffered an ankle injury in the Wild Card Round game against the Arizona Cardinals while Rapp suffered a concussion in the Rams’ Week 18 loss against the San Francisco 49ers. Whitworth and Rapp had not practiced all week which did not bode well for their availability against the Buccaneers.

The veteran Whitworth initially seemed OK after getting his ankle rolled up on, coming out briefly before heading back in to finish the series. However, he was replaced in the second half against Arizona with Joe Noteboom, who will now draw the start at left tackle.

Meanwhile, Rapp has not progressed enough through concussion protocols so Terrell Burgess and Nick Scott will once again be the starting safeties.

McVay explained why Rapp hasn’t been cleared despite being in concussion protocols for two weeks now:

“Without getting into the specifics, it’s just kind of clearing that last hurdle when you get the physical toll and things like that,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said of Rapp prior to Friday’s practice. “And so can’t be safe or smart enough with these things. And I know the one thing for (S) Taylor (Rapp) is he’s doing everything in his power to get back and be out there with his guys. And he’s a great, tough competitor, but these are things that we know how serious they can be. And I do feel like, hopefully after next week, we’ll get some positive news if we are able to continue our season and maybe returns next week.”

While Los Angeles has some depth at safety to cover for Rapp’s absence, losing Whitworth comes at an unfortunate junction as Tampa Bay boasts a front seven headlined by players like Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh. The Buccaneers have been one of the best run defenses all season long, which could make finding running lanes for Sony Michel and Cam Akers even more difficult.

Noteboom has filled in admirably along the offensive line when called upon, allowing only one sack across 174 offensive snaps. Pass blocking will be of the utmost importance as Matthew Stafford will likely need to throw more this time around in order to keep up with Tom Brady.

On the other side of the field, Burgess and Scott have played well in place of Jordan Fuller and Rapp but face a different test in Rob Gronkowski when trying to cover the middle of the field. Eric Weddle should be able to support in this area, but the Rams will have their hands full in what is sure to be a close contest with the reigning Super Bowl champions.