Advertisement

Rams backup quarterback John Wolford says he’s ready to step in if needed

Rams backup quarterback John Wolford worked efficiently against the second-team defense in Saturday's scrimmage.
Rams backup quarterback John Wolford, seen warming up last weekend SoFi Stadium, worked efficiently against the second-team defense in Saturday’s scrimmage at the new stadium.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

He has no NFL regular-season snaps on his resume.

But John Wolford will enter the season as the Rams’ backup quarterback and insurance policy should Jared Goff’s streak of good fortune end.

Since taking over as the starter with seven games left in his rookie season, Goff has not been sidelined because of injury. Wolford said he would be ready if needed.

“I’m confident in my abilities and confident in my ability to run this offense,” Wolford said Saturday after the Rams held a mock game at SoFi Stadium. “It’s something I’ve prepped for my entire life. ... I’m ready to go whenever that shot comes.”

Advertisement

Wolford played in college at Wake Forest and performed well in the defunct Alliance of American Football before the Rams signed him in 2019.

Rams coach Sean McVay knows what he has in running backs coach Thomas Brown, who he has known since high school.

Last season, he played well in preseason games and served as the No. 3 quarterback behind Goff and Blake Bortles, who signed with the Rams for a bargain $1 million because he was still owed millions by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Rams did not re-sign Bortles — who remains a free agent — and did not actively pursue a veteran to take his place.

Advertisement

Coach Sean McVay has said the 6-foot-1 Wolford possesses “Doug Flutie-type stuff in him” in terms of making plays.

“You want Jared to stay healthy, but if John had to play we feel very good about John,” McVay said Saturday.

Wolford mostly ran the scout team last season. So this training camp has offered him an opportunity to run certain plays for the first time.

Rams quarterbacks John Wolford, left, and Jared Goff work on a drill Aug. 22, 2020.
Rams quarterbacks John Wolford, left, and Jared Goff work on a drill Aug. 22 before a scrimmage at SoFi Stadium.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)
Advertisement

He said he has improved mentally and physically.

“Hopefully all those little steps I took in the offseason pay off,” he said. “And I think they have. But I am by no means where I want to be.”

Wolford’s role is to remain prepared and help Goff in any way possible. That includes studying defenses in the film room and on the field to detect “a tip or a tell” that can assist Goff, he said.

Wolford has worked against the Rams’ first-team defense throughout training camp, and he performed well in last weekend’s scrimmage at SoFi Stadium. Those snaps have added to his confidence.

Advertisement

“All those reps accumulate,” he said, “and I think they paid dividends.”

On Saturday, Wolford worked efficiently against the second-team defense and also was pressed into service as the holder for field goals.

Rams team leaders, including Robert Woods and Jared Goff, are working with teammates to come up with a plan to address racial inequality.

Punter Johnny Hekker, the regular holder, was absent to be with his wife for the birth of their child. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp took Hekker’s place.

Advertisement

Kupp, however, left after a few series and gave way to Wolford. McVay said Kupp was not injured.

“You’d see a lot of panic on me if there was something wrong with him, I can promise you,” McVay said, “so he’s OK.”

Kicker Austin MacGinnis made six of eight attempts. Lirim Hajrullahu and Sam Sloman each made five of eight.

McVay said he was happy to get two days of work at the stadium going into the Sept. 13 opener against the Dallas Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football.”

Advertisement

Saturday was “a much smoother operation” than a week ago, he said.

Etc.

Linebacker Travin Howard, who started the first scrimmage, did not participate Saturday because of a knee injury, McVay said. Kenny Young started at inside linebacker alongside Micah Kiser, who tipped a pass and then intercepted it during a competitive “Mamba Tourney” portion of the workout. ... The offense looked better than in the first scrimmage at SoFi Stadium last weekend. Wide receiver Robert Woods scored from 15 yards on a catch-and-run play, and Goff connected with tight end Tyler Higbee for two short touchdown passes. ... The Rams are off Sunday.


Advertisement