Rams linebacker Ramik Wilson could see greatness in Patrick Mahomes last season when he was a member of the Chiefs

LOS ANGELES, CA, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2018 - Rams linebacker Ramik Wilson succesfully covers Charge
Rams linebacker Ramik Wilson covers Chargers receiver Keenan Allen during first half action of their game earlier in the season at the Coliseum.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The young quarterback’s potential was obvious to linebacker Ramik Wilson during 2017 practices with the Kansas City Chiefs, so Wilson is not surprised by Patrick Mahomes’ MVP-caliber performance this season.

Mahomes, a second-year pro, has passed for a league-leading 31 touchdowns, with seven interceptions, heading into Monday night’s game against the Rams at the Coliseum. He already has broken the franchise record for touchdown passes in a season with six games to go.

Last season, Mahomes backed up Alex Smith.

“He was making unbelievable throws in practice, on scout team, just lighting it up,” Wilson, a fourth-year pro who signed with the Rams during the offseason, said this week. “We knew his time was going to come real soon.”


Last January, the Chiefs traded Smith to the Washington Redskins. That cleared the way for Mahomes, the 10th pick in the 2017 draft, to take over a high-flying offense that rivals the Rams’.

Mahomes is completing 67% of his passes. He has passed for 3,150 yards, and also has rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns for a 9-1 team that is averaging 35.3 points a game.

“He loves to compete and he wants to be great,” Wilson said, “and he’s showing the league right now how good he can be.

“He’s doing what we expected him to do.”


As with Rams quarterback Jared Goff, Mahomes is surrounded by talent.

Running back Kareem Hunt has rushed for 754 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has six touchdown catches.

Receiver Tyreek Hill has turned nine of his 55 receptions into touchdowns. Tight end Travis Kelce has a team-best 57 catches, six for touchdowns. Receiver Sammy Watkins who left the Rams to sign a $48-million, free-agent contract — has 39 catches, three for touchdowns.

Wilson started the first four games this season in place of the injured Mark Barron. Now he serves as a back-up and also plays on special teams. Wilson caused and recovered a fumble on a kickoff return that clinched the Rams’ Week 8 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Rams cornerback Marcus Peters also played the previous three seasons for the Chiefs. Now Peters, Wilson and the rest of the defense will try to slow down one of the Super Bowl favorites.

Practicing against the Rams’ high-powered offense will help prepare the defense, but only to a degree, Wilson said.

“They’ve got their unique style,” Wilson said of the Chiefs. “We’ve got to be disciplined and do our job and get off the field on third down.

“That’ll be the most important thing: Can’t let those drives prolong. If we get off the field on third down, I think we’ll be all right.”


Comeback trail

Cornerback Aqib Talib aims to return from injured reserve in time for a Week 13 game at Detroit.

Talib, recovering from an ankle injury suffered in Week 3 against the Chargers, did agility drills on the Coliseum sideline last Sunday before the Rams’ victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

“I feel good,” he said this week. “Steady progression, so feeling good. Getting there.”

Talib, an 11th-year pro, said it has been frustrating to watch from the sidelines.

“It’s terrible,” he said.

Since his March trade from the Denver Broncos, Talib had been looking forward to playing against the Chiefs and coach Andy Reid. Talib matched up against the Chiefs seven times during his four seasons with the Broncos.

“I’m always up for a challenge,” he said. “Definitely mad I can’t play in that one.”


The Rams have missed Talib’s presence on the field.

Talib said Peters, who had been struggling, played a “solid” game against the Seahawks. Other than Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, no defensive back was perfect all the time, Talib said.

The position requires a short memory, and Peters will be “perfectly fine,” Talib said.

“It’s a marathon,” he said of the season, “not a sprint.”

Flexing their popularity

The Rams’ Week 14 game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Dec. 9 has been flexed into a prime-time “Sunday Night Football” appearance, the NFL announced Wednesday. It replaces Pittsburgh at Oakland.

The Rams had been scheduled to play on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers. After 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier in the season, however, the NFL opted instead to televise the game between the Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals.


If the Seahawks (4-5) lose to the Packers on Thursday night, and the Rams (9-1) defeat the Chiefs on Monday, the Rams will clinch the NFC West. ... The Rams were off Wednesday. They will have two walk-throughs Thursday. ... Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer and executive vice-president of football operations, appeared in person, and several players called in or recorded messages for the televised “Fire Relief Fundraiser” that was held Wednesday to raise money for United Way’s Disaster Relief Fund.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein