A Rams offense searching for a rhythm might be without two starters for this weekend’s matchup with the Cleveland Browns on “Sunday Night Football.”
Rams tight end Tyler Higbee suffered a bruised lung and offensive lineman Austin Blythe a left ankle sprain during the Rams’ 27-9 victory over the New Orleans Saints, coach Sean McVay said Monday.
McVay described both players’ status as “day to day,” but the nature of Higbee’s injury would indicate that he is less likely than Blythe to play at Cleveland, which picked up its first win Monday night, 23-3 over the New York Jets.
Higbee and Blythe were injured on the same second-quarter play at the Coliseum — a mid-range pass intended for Higbee near the five-yard line. Blythe was assisted off the field, but Higbee remained in the game until halftime.
Higbee was later taken to the hospital, and McVay confirmed a report that the fourth-year pro was coughing up blood.
On Monday, Higbee was not in the locker room during the 45-minute media period, but a team spokesman said Higbee had been at the team’s Thousand Oaks facility. Higbee tweeted, “Thank you everyone for the well-wishes and support! I feel great and ready to get back to work asap! We’re 2-0 tho!!!”
Asked if he expected Higbee to play against the Browns, McVay said the Rams would “never” put players in harm’s way.
“Whatever the doctor’s orders are, that’s what’s in the best interest of Tyler, is exactly what we’ll follow,” McVay said. “What that means as far as this week, the following week, we’ll have a little bit more updates as we go.”
Higbee, a fourth-round draft pick in 2016, signed a four-year, $29-million extension before the season. The deal included slightly more than $15 million in guarantees, according to overthecap.com.
Higbee caught four passes, including one for a five-yard touchdown, in the Rams’ season-opening victory over the Carolina Panthers. On Sunday he caught two passes, including an 18-yard reception a few plays before he was injured.
“Whether it’s blocking in the run game, blocking in protections, you see him make plays in the pass game, when he’s gotten his opportunities,” McVay said. “I think his versatility is extremely valuable.”
If Higbee does not play, Gerald Everett would start in his place. The third-year pro has four catches this season. The Rams also would activate tight end Johnny Mundt.
Blythe, the starting right guard, said he suffered a “low” sprain, which is regarded as less severe than a typically more debilitating high sprain.
“No breaks, no real tears or anything like that,” Blythe said, adding that he would “listen to the trainers and get on a treatment plan that will get me back as soon as I can.”
The Rams signed Blythe in 2017 after the Indianapolis Colts waived the 2016 fifth-round pick. He played mainly as a reserve his first season with the Rams, but began last season starting in place of then-suspended Jamon Brown.
Blythe never relinquished the job and now ranks as the line’s third-most experienced player behind tackles Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein.
Second-year pro Jamil Demby replaced Blythe against the Saints, and he likely would start in his place against the Browns if Blythe is not able to play.
“You could see the game wasn’t too big for him,” McVay said of Demby’s performance against the Saints.
The Browns, like the Saints the week before, appeared on “Monday Night Football,” which gives them less than a week to prepare for the Rams. That gives the Rams “a little bit” of an edge, defensive lineman Michael Brockers said. … Rams offensive lineman Bobby Evans blocked for Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield when they played at Oklahoma. Evans said he was not surprised by Mayfield’s success last season as a rookie starter. “I expected it, actually,” Evans said. Mayfield completed 19 of 35 passes for 325 yards, a touchdown and an interception Monday night against the Jets.