With Rams’ Tyler Higbee sidelined, Gerald Everett gets chance to start at tight end
It’s been a while since tight end Gerald Everett started for the Rams.
He did it twice as a rookie in 2017 but played behind Tyler Higbee every game last season as the Rams made a run to the Super Bowl.
With Higbee sidelined because of a bruised lung suffered in the victory over the New Orleans Saints last week, Everett will start Sunday night against the Cleveland Brown at FirstEnergy Stadium. Everett said Friday that the starting assignment would not change his mind-set.
“I’m not really worried about breaking out or having a big game,” he said after practice. “Just compete to the best of my abilities and help the team get a W.”
Higbee was injured during the second quarter of the 27-9 victory over the Saints. He did not practice all week. Johnny Mundt will back up Everett, who coach Sean McVay described as “a starting-caliber player.”
As a rookie, Everett caught 16 passes, two for touchdowns. Last season, he had 33 receptions, three for touchdowns. Everett has three catches for 21 yards this season.
In the season opener against the Carolina Panthers, Higbee played 51 snaps. Everett played 39. Before he was injured against the Saints, Higbee played 23 snaps. Everett played 48.
His workload could increase against the Browns.
“Gerald will get a chance to demonstrate why he can really play on all three downs,” McVay said.
Rams running back Todd Gurley is regarded as one of the NFL’s best stiff-arm practitioners and teammate Cooper Kupp has a hand in it too.
Offensive lineman Austin Blythe, who suffered a left ankle injury against the Saints on the same play that Higbee was injured, was limited again Friday and is listed as questionable. The Sunday night kickoff gives Blythe more time than usual to continue rehabilitation and possibly play.
“We’re going to use all the time that we do have,” coach Sean McVay said. “See if we can get some of that swelling out and if he feels good enough, then we’ll make a decision on that.”
Defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who was nursing a muscle strain in his back, also is listed as questionable, but Donald said he would “100%” play against the Browns. On Friday, theories abounded about what caused an injury that temporarily sidelined Donald against the Saints.
Donald plays “so physical and violent,” McVay said, “I think it was more just the torque that he created on his own.”
Joked Donald: “I’m just so fast. I was moving so fast.”
Too fast for his own body?
“Too damn fast,” he said.
Donald and fellow defensive lineman Michael Brockers could line up against Browns left tackle Greg Robinson, a former teammate who was the second-overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Rams. The Rams traded Robinson, 26, to the Detroit Lions in June 2017.
“Greg’s still a young guy,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said this week during a teleconference. “He’s still kind of learning. ... I see Greg continuing to get better.”
Donald also has seen improvement by Robinson.
“He understands the game a little bit more and the technique looks more clean than when he was a younger guy,” Donald said. “So expect him to be better.”
Linebacker Clay Matthews always gets a warm reception from fans in Cleveland because his father, Clay Matthews Jr., played 16 of his 19 NFL seasons at linebacker for the Browns.
Clay Matthews Jr. will be inducted in the Browns’ “Ring of Honor” during halftime Sunday. A large family contingent will be on hand for the ceremony.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff has been a reliable starter. In two-plus seasons, he has missed snaps only once because of an injury.
Matthews is happy for his father, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who has been a Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist three times. Matthews said his father’s accomplishments compare favorably with several Hall of Fame inductees.
“The reception that comes to me by way of my dad is pretty remarkable,” he said. “Hopefully, that’s what happens again.”
Rather than leaving Friday afternoon, the Rams will depart for Cleveland on Saturday morning. The Rams’ experience last season playing on Sunday night at Chicago influenced the decision, McVay said. “It felt like we were there for 2½ weeks,” he said. … In the wake of the New England Patriots’ decision to release wide receiver Antonio Brown, McVay was asked whether the Rams would explore the possibility of signing him or letting it pass. “You always look into things,” McVay said. “We evaluate, but with the situation we have specific to the receiver position, we couldn’t be happier with the guys that we do have.”
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