Robert Woods’ versatility goes a long way to airing out Rams’ offense
The play call in the huddle caused laser-focused receiver Robert Woods to perk up.
Since joining the Rams in 2017, the receiver made his name — and earned a healthy contract extension — with clutch catches, versatility in the running game and enthusiastic blocking.
But not many long touchdown catches.
That changed in last Sunday’s victory over Washington, when Woods caught a deep pass from quarterback Jared Goff and turned it into a 56-yard touchdown.
“You hear a play like that where you’re able to go deep and take the top off, you’re obviously giving it all you got,” Woods said Wednesday during a videoconference with reporters. “You get excited when you hear ‘em.”
Said Goff: “You kind of give ‘em a wink and let them know, ‘All right, here we go.’ ”
Rookie Jordan Fuller, who started the Rams’ first three games before suffering a right shoulder injury against Buffalo, is placed on injured reserve.
Woods’ catch along the left sideline added another component to the Rams’ high-powered offense heading into Sunday’s NFC West game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.
The touchdown was the third-longest reception for Woods in seven-plus NFL seasons. He had a 57-yard reception for the Buffalo Bills as a rookie in 2013. In 2017, after signing as a free agent with the Rams, Woods scored on a 94-yard play against the Houston Texans.
Woods’ value to the Rams in every phase of the offense helped him secure in September a four-year extension that includes nearly $32 million in guarantees.
Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers coach, said he tracked Woods since Woods’ All-American days at USC and during his first four pro seasons with the Bills.
“He’s always been a good player,” Shanahan said, “but his first year with the Rams he took off.”
Shanahan noted Woods’ route running, his production after catching passes and his blocking.
“To me, he’s one of the better football players at the position in the league,” Shanahan said.
This season, Woods has 23 catches for 300 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging 60 yards receiving per game, which puts him slightly off pace to eclipse to 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season.
Woods has caught 74% of the passes thrown his way, putting him on track to improve upon his career-best 2018 season when he caught 66.2% of his targets. He is averaging 13 yards per reception, and 8.2 yards after the catch — more than two yards above last season’s average.
Woods also has rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown in eight carries as part of an offense that has utilized running backs, receivers, tight ends and Goff as ball-carriers.
As with most receivers, Woods has a special place in his heart for deep routes such as the one off a play-action fake that resulted in a touchdown against Washington.
The Chargers lose another close game, this time to the Saints in overtime. Meanwhile, the Rams keep delivering in clutch.
“You put a little extra juice” into those routes, he said.
“Just got down the sideline — nice beautiful ball by Jared and just have to race straight to the pylon to finish out the play,” he said.
Outside linebacker Obo Okoronkwo will have surgery to repair an elbow injury he suffered against Washington, but it is not expected to end his season, McVay said. The Rams will make a roster move this week when Okoronkwo goes on injured reserve. Safety Jordan Fuller (shoulder) will sit out at least three games while on injured reserve. He will be eligible to return for a Nov. 15 game against the Seattle Seahawks. Taylor Rapp is expected to start in place of Fuller. ... Linebacker Micah Kiser (groin/chest), who did not play against Washington, was limited Wednesday. “He is on track and the anticipation is that he’ll be ready to go as long as he doesn’t have any setbacks,” McVay said. ... Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth and defensive lineman Aaron Donald were given veterans’ rest days. Donald, who had four sacks against Washington, was named NFC defensive player of the week. ... Goff celebrated his 26th birthday Wednesday. “I’m over the hump now … I’ve heard it’s all downhill from here,” he joked. Woods on Goff’s ill-fated spike attempt against Washington: “It was really just a terrible, terrible spike, and he knows it, everyone knows it.” Said Goff: “I defend myself. It was a wet ball that slipped.” … San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) was listed as a full participant on the 49ers injury report. Linebacker Kwon Alexander (ankle) and cornerback Dontae Jones (groin) did not practice.
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