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Rams

John Wolford making the most of his opportunity with Rams in preseason

Rams quarterback John Wolford throws a pass during the team’s 10-6 preseason victory over the Denver Broncos on Saturday.
Rams quarterback John Wolford throws a pass during the team’s 10-6 preseason victory over the Denver Broncos on Saturday.
(Getty Images)

His background away from football includes working in investment banking. So Rams quarterback John Wolford was trained to recognize opportunities for growth.

That’s one reason why Wolford, who played eight games in the defunct Alliance of American Football, jumped at the chance to sign with the Rams.

Despite being the fourth quarterback on the roster, playing for coach Sean McVay and learning from Jared Goff was a deal he could not pass up.

“It’s a great culture, they went to the Super Bowl, Sean McVay is obviously extremely smart and Jared is a great guy to learn from,” Wolford said last week. “Add all those things up, and it’s a good mix.”

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With Goff, Blake Bortles and Brandon Allen ahead of him on the depth chart, Wolford is a longshot to make the roster. But he could find a place on the practice squad, with the Rams or perhaps another NFL team.

He continued to build his resume Saturday in the Rams’ 10-6 victory over the Denver Broncos at the Coliseum.

Once longshots, linebacker Natrez Patrick and receiver Nsimba Webster aim to convince Rams in last preseason games to keep them on roster.

Wolford replaced Allen late in the second quarter and again late in the third. His fourth-quarter touchdown pass to receiver Jalen Greene gave the Rams a 10-6 lead. He completed six of 12 passes for 54 yards.

“I’m just going to do everything I can to put myself in the best position to make this roster,” Wolford said after the game. “I’d love to make this team, and if not hopefully I keep playing well and I have tape for 31 other teams to look at.”

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McVay has held Goff and other established starters out of preseason games so that they will be ready for the Sept. 8 opener against the Carolina Panthers. Bortles started against the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys but McVay held him out against the Broncos.

Allen started and completed 12 of 19 passes for 162 yards, including a 51-yard sideline strike to receiver Mike Thomas in the first quarter.

Wolford, 23, went to high school in Jacksonville, Fla., and played in college at Wake Forest, where as a senior he passed for 29 touchdowns, with six interceptions. He was on the verge of starting a job with an investment banking firm in 2018 when the New York Jets offered him a spot for training camp.

Wolford played in one preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles and completed eight of 20 passes for 89 yards, with an interception, before he was released.

That experience helped him get drafted by the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football.

In eight games, he passed for 14 touchdowns, with seven interceptions, before the league went under.

Rams running back Darrell Henderson runs through the Denver Broncos’ defense during Saturday’s preseason win.
Rams running back Darrell Henderson runs through the Denver Broncos’ defense during Saturday’s preseason win.
(Associated Press)

“I got exactly what I wanted out of it,” Wolford said of his AAF experience. “It’s a shame that it was cut short, but I was able to get eight games on tape, and that’s really what got me back to the NFL.

“I look back at that as a fun team, and it helped me out. So I’m thankful for it.”

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In April, Wolford was in Southern California visiting an aunt before a scheduled workout with the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota the next day.

He said the Rams called and asked him to work out at their Thousand Oaks facility.

“I was on my way to Minnesota right after the workout, and then [the Rams] called me and said, ‘We’re going to sign you,’” Wolford said. “So I ended up not having to fly to Minnesota. It was actually snowing in Minnesota in April.”

Despite the seemingly long odds to make the roster, Wolford has been encouraged by the feedback he has received.

“I thought he did a great job,” McVay said. “You could see he got through some progressions tonight, was able to evade the rush when some guys came into the backfield and make some plays with his legs. And you could see why he’s just a little baller.”

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck says an unrelenting cycle of injuries spurred his decision to retire from football at age 29.

He completed six of eight passes for 54 yards against the Raiders, and was five of nine for 26 yards against the Cowboys.

He is expected to get extended playing time again Thursday when the Rams conclude the preseason against the Houston Texans in Houston.

Wolford’s resume will continue to grow. He has eight games of AAF tape and four games of preseason NFL tape for the Rams and other NFL teams to ponder.

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“Put that all together, and I’d love to stay here, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “But you’re trying out for 31 other teams as well.”

Etc.

Greg Zuerlein kicked a 37-yard field goal. He missed wide left on a 58-yard attempt. ... Kevin Peterson intercepted a pass, his second interception of the preseason. ... Defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers recorded a sack. ... Linebacker Travin Howard had a team-best eight tackles.


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