Despite his team clinching a second consecutive NFC West title the day before, Rams coach Sean McVay was not feeling great Monday.
He left the Rams’ Thousand Oaks facility in the afternoon to work at home, cancelled a news conference, and said during a teleconference — with a hoarse voice and through a cough — that he had been feeling “progressively worse” for several days.
And, as the Rams reviewed their 30-16 victory at Detroit and began preparing for Sunday night’s game in chilly Chicago against the Bears, there was no masking McVay’s added distress about a clavicle injury suffered by Malcolm Brown.
On a team full of stars and multiple most-valuable-player candidates, the potential extended absence of a veteran who doubles as a backup running back and special teams standout might not seem like cause for concern. But McVay and veteran offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth both described it as “a huge loss.”
Brown, a fourth-year pro, has rushed for 212 yards in 43 carries while spelling Todd Gurley. He has five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. He also is a key member of four special teams units.
McVay said Brown was scheduled for a non-specified medical “procedure” Monday but was not certain the injury would require surgery. He compared Brown’s injury to a similar one suffered last season by receiver Robert Woods, who was sidelined for three games.
Second-year pro Justin Davis and rookie John Kelly could combine to fill Brown’s roles on offense and special teams, enabling the Rams to develop more depth. But the typically upbeat McVay did not see a silver lining, especially with the Rams playing the Bears and competing with New Orleans for home-field advantage through the playoffs.
“You always want to try and be positive,” McVay said, “but I think losing Malcolm is a huge loss for us and depending upon how long that is. But it’s a big deal for those guys to have to step up, and they’ve got large shoes to fill, that’s for sure.”
Whitworth said Brown is invaluable.
“A guy that does nothing but step in and rise to the occasion every time we need him,” Whitworth said. “He’s somebody that everybody in the locker room has an appreciation for, just the physicality he plays with and just the guy he is.”
For his part, McVay promised to be on the sideline Sunday.
“Even if I’m not healthy that’s not going to hold me back,” he said, jokingly adding that as long as his head did not feel “too swelled,” he would be ready.