The Los Angeles Rams were dealt a major blow after left tackle Andrew Whitworth went down with a knee injury during the 23-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10.
Whitworth is now expected to miss the next 6-8 weeks following a stellar outing up to this point in the 2020 NFL season. Given his status as the foundation of the offensive line, it is safe to say that his absence leaves a rather notable void up front.
The onus will now fall on offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom to step up and take on an integral role for this offense. Fortunately, he appears to be more than up to the task.
Noteboom shared some high praise for Whitworth, but is admittedly looking forward to making his first career start at left tackle, via Stu Jackson of the team’s official website:
“(He’s) definitely an irreplaceable guy, being a 14-,15-year veteran,” Noteboom said during a video conference after Thursday’s practice. “But I feel the coaching staff, everyone here, they have a good gameplan for this game. Watching him for three years, I definitely feel prepared to go in there and do as well as he did.”
Head coach Sean McVay added that Noteboom’s skill set should help pay some dividends in the wake of Whitworth’s injury:
“I think what it is, is it’s an opportunity for him to play right now and we’re going to be present in the moment,” McVay said during a video conference Monday. “Joe is a guy that we’ve always anticipated in projected as somebody that we do feel like as a starting caliber left tackle in this league. He’s got the length. He’s got the athleticism. I think he’s doing a great job of continuing to grow his repertoire in terms of understanding the techniques, the fundamentals that we want to implement and utilize in the run game and protection. I was pleased with him yesterday, but it’s going to be something that you’ll certainly miss Andrew and everything that he means to us. But, whether you look at it as an audition, I think it’s an opportunity for Joe to step up and I expect him to play.”
Noteboom was sidelined for the last six games with a calf injury before being elevated to the 53-man roster heading into Week 10. He will now be tasked with maintaining a high level of play at the most important position up front.
Noteboom was replaced by David Edwards while injured and played well enough to secure the job. Regardless, the lack of experience on the left side of the line could be a point of emphasis for opposing defenses in the coming weeks so it will be interesting to see how this tandem responds.