Rams News: Carson Wentz Excited For First Start Of Season
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams are going to have a new face under center in Week 18 against the San Francisco 49ers as Carson Wentz takes the field with the team resting Matthew Stafford ahead of the Playoffs.

Wentz — the former No. 2 overall pick — joined the Rams midseason after spending the first half of the year as a free agent.

Wentz’s career took a sharp downturn after an incredible stretch of football between 2017 and 2019. Wentz finished third in MVP voting in 2017 before tearing his ACL, but returned strong with a 4,000-yard season in 2019. He saw an instant decline in 2020, leading to his benching by the Philadelphia Eagles in favor of current starter Jalen Hurts.

He was traded to the Indianapolis Colts, then the Washington Commanders the next year. He failed to take either team to the postseason and was left without a team when the 2023 season began. So with all of that history, getting a chance to start in Week 18 is a massive opportunity.

Wentz spoke about when he found out about the start and what he’s looking forward to most about it.

“It’s Wednesday now, so it must have been Monday afternoon. And obviously knew there was a chance once we saw what happened Sunday. Sitting on the plane seeing the Steelers pick up the win against Seattle, everybody was pretty excited after that, you can say. So I thought there was a chance, whether it was starting or just playing some or whatever but I’ve been preparing to be ready in whatever capacity I can help this team anyway so I’m excited for it.”

And Wentz is not necessarily playing in a meaningless game, as L.A. could drop to the No. 7 seed with a loss and a Green Bay Packers victory. A win secures their place as the No. 6 seed.

“Yeah, I’m excited for it,” Wentz said. “We’ll see how the week goes with all of that on their end as well, but I’m excited for it. I’ve played a couple times down there in San Fran and it’s a fun environment. It’s going to be hopefully a beautiful Sunday afternoon in California. Excited to go get a chance and yes, there is still some stuff to play for and there’s things at stake and it’s January. I haven’t played a game in a long time so I’m excited for it.”

Wentz has obviously been in this position before as the No. 1 starter on a team for seven seasons, so he knows that not much changes in terms of his preparation.

“Pretty much just this, talking to y’all. It is this,” Wentz said of the differences between being a starter and backup. “It’s some little things but again, I’ve been preparing and trying to just be in there with Matthew as much as I can and learn and grow. So I think nothing’s really dramatically changing other than taking all the reps out there at practice and walkthrough and like I said, talking to y’all.”

However, the Rams backup admitted that he prefers knowing ahead of time that he’s going to be the starter as opposed to the role of a backup.

“Yes, absolutely. I think just being on the sideline the last couple weeks and obviously in my career, I’ve had a couple games as the backup. It’s definitely a different kind of stress. Got to be ready.

“Last week it was a little chilly up in New York, so it’s like, I got to stay warm, I got to stay mentally ready. It’s all those things. And so to come in on a Monday or Tuesday and be told, ‘Okay, you’re going to play and start,’ and within the game plan, it kind of starts to hit your brain differently because it’s built for you. It’s built for what you do well. And I can already see coach doing that. And so yeah, it’s definitely a little less stressful knowing, okay, I’m going to go play. I don’t have to just wait and see what happens type of thing.”

With the postseason locked up, Wentz’s has an opportunity to play a pressure-free game of football and try to turn that into a home in the NFL next season.

Rams receiver Puka Nacua will be given chance to break records

Rams head coach Sean McVay revealed that Puka Nacua will play in Week 18 because of his opportunity to become the all-time leader in both receptions and receiving yards in a rookie season in NFL history. He needs four catches and 29 yards for both.

“Yeah, I think you’d like to be able to see him get an opportunity to do something special and then be smart with him,” McVay said of Nacua playing against the 49ers.