Rams will face Kyle Allen at Washington, which benches QB Dwayne Haskins
Most of the Rams’ in-game defensive adjustments have paid off during a 3-1 start.
Now their game-week adaptability might be tested.
After Washington coach Ron Rivera announced Wednesday that Kyle Allen would replace Dwayne Haskins as the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game at FedEx Field, however, Rams coach Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Brandon Staley did not seem concerned.
“It doesn’t change much,” McVay said of his team’s preparation during a videoconference with reporters.
The Rams fared well against quarterbacks Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys, Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles and Daniel Jones of the New York Giants, but could not contain Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills.
The Rams are giving up 353.3 yards per game, which ranks 13th in the NFL. They are sixth in scoring defense (20 points per game), eighth in pass defense (229.8 yards per game) and 18th in rushing defense (123.5 yards per game).
With two games already postponed because of positive coronavirus tests, the NFL could benefit from expanding the season to an 18th week.
That bodes well against a Washington offense that ranks 30th overall and in scoring.
Haskins, the 15th pick in the 2019 draft, has passed for four touchdowns, with three interceptions. Last Sunday, he completed 32 of 45 passes for 314 yards in a 31-17 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens. The loss dropped Washington’s record to 1-3.
After playing the Rams, Washington plays its next three games against NFC East opponents, including two against the winless New York Giants (0-4). The Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) are atop the division standings, followed by Washington and the Dallas Cowboys (1-3).
The NFC East is “wide open,” Rivera said in explaining his reasoning for benching Haskins. The coach is in his first year with Washington.
“Gave Dwayne every opportunity to be our starter,” Rivera said during a conference call with Los Angeles reporters. “He’s kind of plateaued, and we’re looking for a spark.”
Hurricane Delta had threatened to move of the Chargers-Saints game scheduled to be played in New Orleans on Monday, but the storm changed. The game will not have to be moved to Indianapolis, where the game could have been played.
Allen, 24, played under Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner with the Carolina Panthers. Last season, after Cam Newton suffered a season-ending foot injury, Allen became the starter for the final 12 games. He passed for 17 touchdowns, with 16 interceptions.
Last March, Washington traded a fifth-round pick for Allen.
“Stylistically, he’s a different player than Dwayne, so you just have to go back and inventory his career in Carolina,” Staley said during a videoconference.
Veteran Alex Smith, who came back from leg injuries suffered in 2018 that that resulted in 17 surgeries, is the backup, Rivera said. McVay marveled at Smith’s return.
“To overcome some of the things that he’s overcome to put himself in a position to just be able to have full utilization of that leg, let alone be playing NFL football — all I can really say is: Wow!” McVay said.
McVay this week also lauded Rivera, who is coaching while undergoing treatment for cancer.
“Watching the way that he’s handled this is reflective of exactly what you would say, ‘This is a guy that represents a lot of the things that are right about football and perseverance and being a man of character and integrity and leading and caring about people,’ ” McVay said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, NFL practice squads can carry 16 players. Six can be veterans, defined as players with more than two accrued seasons.
Rivera said he was doing “pretty good” and that he has started his second cycle of treatment.
“Everybody tells you the second cycle is probably your hardest, which I just agree, but the last few days have been really tough,” he said, adding that Wednesday was a good day. “I expect to feel pretty good, because as the days go on, the effects start to wear off.
“I should be fine on Sunday. I expect to get an IV before the game, hydrate just in case, and we’ll go from there.”
Linebackers Micah Kiser (groin/chest) and Kenny Young (knee) and offensive lineman Bobby Evans (shoulder) did not practice. Running back Cam Akers (ribs) was limited. Safety Jordan Fuller (shoulder) was a full participant. Offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth and defensive lineman Aaron Donald were given a rest day. … McVay said the Rams would evaluate rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis (knee) on Wednesday and Thursday before determining whether to activate him to the roster. ... Washington defensive end Chase Young (groin), receivers Dontrelle Inman (foot), Terry McLaurin (thigh) and Steven Sims Jr. (toe) and guard Wes Schweitzer (elbow) did not practice. Defensive tackle Jonathan Allen (knee) was limited. ... McVay on whether NFL teams should be punished for violating COVID-19 protocols: “Oh, yeah. There’s some very strict policies that the league is serious about implementing and I think we all realize how volatile this thing is.”
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