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Rams

Rams’ Eric Weddle clears concussion protocol and is expected to play against Saints

Rams safety Eric Weddle receives assistance from team medical staff.
Rams safety Eric Weddle receives assistance after he suffered a cut near his eye during the team’s season-opening win over the Carolina Panthers.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Rams safety Eric Weddle was cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol and is expected to play against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at the Coliseum, coach Sean McVay said Friday.

“I feel as normal as I’ve ever felt,” Weddle said after practice.

Weddle, 34, was injured during the first half of the Rams’ season-opening victory over the Carolina Panthers when he attempted to tackle running back Christian McCaffrey, who was attempting to hurdle Weddle. McCaffrey’s left knee hit Weddle in the head, causing a bloody cut that Weddle said required seven stitches.

A sharp edge inside the first layer of his helmet padding, and the impact of McCaffrey’s knee against his head, might have caused the cut, Weddle said.

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“Kind of a perfect-storm type stuff,” he said.

Weddle was prone on the turf for several moments after the play. He eventually sat up, blood running down his neck and onto his jersey before he was carted from the field.

“That first couple minutes, I don’t remember anything,” he said, “but then after that I was coherent. I knew the score, knew who we were playing, all the simple questions you ask to see if someone is there or not.

“Like, I knew where I was at. The whole thing I was wondering was if I made the tackle or not.”

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman knows he has become a household name since his helmet-to-helmet hit on TommyLee Lewis in the NFC title game.

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A Rams representative called his wife, Chanel, when he was taken to the locker room, Weddle said. His family had been attending church when the game began.

“She didn’t see it live, thank goodness, but she knows,” Weddle said. “She played college sports. She knows what this game is all about.”

McCaffrey expressed concern after the game, Weddle said.

“When you see an injury like that, you’re always hoping for the best because we are a brotherhood and we compete, but … you never want to see someone hurt,” Weddle said.

Weddle said he got “knocked out” and suffered a concussion in 2012 while playing for the Chargers against the Baltimore Ravens. He played the next week.

The injury against the Panthers shortened Weddle’s Rams debut. Before the collision with McCaffrey, he called defensive signals and had made six tackles, the kind of effort the Rams anticipated when they signed the 12-year veteran as a free agent.

“I was flying around,” he said. “I felt like I was 25. Not a care in the world.”

Drew Brees and the Saints visit L.A. to play the Rams in a rematch of the NFC championship game that already could have playoff ramifications.

Weddle is eager to get back onto the field against the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees. Weddle stressed that patience was a key when playing against the NFL’s all-time passing-yardage leader.

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“You just have to be stay in the moment, stay consistent, don’t get down and he’ll give you some opportunities,” Weddle said. “Whether it’s an errant throw, whether it’s a sack, whether it’s a tipped ball — those are the plays you’ve got to capitalize on.”

Silent treatment

Cornerback Marcus Peters declined to speak to reporters this week during the run-up to the game.

Last season, Peters struggled against the Saints in the Rams’ 45-35 regular-season defeat, but played better in the NFC championship game.

In first game, Saints receiver Mike Thomas caught 12 passes for 211 yards. Peters was in coverage for several of Thomas’ receptions, including a 72-yard touchdown that sealed the Saints’ victory.

After the game, Saints coach Sean Payton said his team got the matchup it wanted for the final touchdown. A few days later, Peters said he encouraged Payton to ‘keep talkin,’ ” and that the Rams would see the Saints “soon,” presumably in the NFC playoffs.

“And then we going to have a good little, nice little bowl of gumbo together,” Peters said.

McVay downplayed the comments last season and again Friday.

“Just kind of some fun banter that goes on a lot of the times behind the scenes when you know and have a mutual respect,” McVay said.

Last week against the Panthers, Peters drew a taunting penalty. But McVay said the fifth-year pro otherwise played “a solid game” in the season opener.

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“Took full accountability for that and I trust that will be something that we learn from,” McVay said of the penalty. “He’s a great competitor.”

Easing in

After practicing Wednesday and Thursday, running back Todd Gurley did not practice Friday.

“A rest day,” McVay said.

The Rams are attempting to manage Gurley’s workload during practices and games to prevent another flare-up of the left knee injury that sidelined and then slowed him late in the 2018 season. Gurley rushed for 97 yards in 14 carries against the Panthers, but was targeted for a pass only once.

“I have to do a good job of giving him the opportunity to get more involved in different ways that’s not exclusive to running the football,” McVay said. “I don’t necessarily know if it’s part of the workload, but it is part of being smart and getting him involved and getting him touches.”

Etc.

Defensive lineman Michael Brockers (shoulder) and linebacker Clay Matthews (back) were full participants in practice, according to the injury report. ... Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins was declared out of the game because of a an Achilles injury.


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