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Rams’ Jared Goff has thumb surgery; John Wolford to start in showdown vs. Cardinals

Rams quarterback Jared Goff walks off the field during the second half against the Seattle Seahawks.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff walks off the field during the second half against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in Seattle.
(Scott Eklund / Associated Press )

The Rams fell short of securing a playoff spot in each of the last two weeks, and now will make a final push for the postseason without quarterback Jared Goff.

Goff had surgery Monday for a right thumb fracture and will not play Sunday in the season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, coach Sean McVay said.

John Wolford will start in place of Goff as the Rams (9-6), who missed the playoffs last season, try to earn a spot for the third time in McVay’s four seasons as coach.

Goff was injured during the Rams’ 20-9 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Seattle. His throwing hand hit the helmet of Seahawks defensive lineman Benson Mayowa during the third quarter, but Goff popped the dislocated thumb back into its socket and finished the game. Tests conducted after the game also revealed a fracture.

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McVay said he spoke with Goff and doctors late Sunday night before the decision was made to have surgery, which included the insertion of screws.

Rick Neuheisel coached John Wolford in the Alliance of American Football and swears the backup quarterback will come through for the Rams in season finale against Arizona.

“We felt like that was going to be the best thing to do for him and for our team,” McVay said, adding, “He actually should be available, if we’re able to handle business, for the playoffs, which is pretty amazing.”

Goff, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, has played in 73 of 74 games since he became the starter nine games into his rookie season. In 2017, McVay’s first season, the coach held out starters in the finale against the Cardinals as the Rams prepared for the playoffs.

“You feel for Jared because I know he wants to be out there and what a big game this is,” McVay said. “You could see how bummed out he was.”

The decision to have surgery was made with an eye beyond Sunday, McVay said.

“You’ve got to make sure you help make the decision, or help paint a picture of why this is the smart thing for the longevity of your career and not just be so shortsighted,” he said.

McVay said Wolford, who has never taken a regular-season NFL snap, was ready to step in for Goff.

“John does a great job preparing himself all year,” McVay said. “You watch the way he’s worked at it, I know there’s confidence from coaches and from his teammates, and guys will need to rally around him but were excited about the opportunity John will have to lead the offense this week.”

Quarterback Bryce Perkins, who is on the practice squad, will be available as a possible backup. The Rams also are planning to sign veteran Blake Bortles from the Denver Broncos practice squad, McVay said. Bortles played for the Rams last season.

John Wolford sets to throw during a scrimmage at SoFi Stadium in August.
John Wolford sets to throw during a scrimmage at SoFi Stadium in August.
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images)

Earlier Monday, center Austin Blythe and running back Malcolm Brown said they did not know Goff’s status but were confident Wolford would be ready if called upon.

“John’s prepared all year like a starter just in case something did happen to Jared,” Blythe said. “If John has to play we have the utmost confidence in John to go in and do a good job.”

Said Brown: “John knows literally everything about that playbook. He’s a guy that prepares himself very, very well. That’s something we all know in the building, it’s something we all respect about him. We know he knows everything.”

Wolford, 25, started for four seasons at Wake Forest. In 2018, he played in one preseason game with the New York Jets, completing eight of 20 passes for 89 yards with an interception.

Wolford played in the now defunct Alliance of American Football before the Rams signed him in 2019. In eight games for the AAF’s Arizona Hotshots, he passed for 14 touchdowns, with seven interceptions.

During the 2019 preseason, he played in four games for the Rams, completing 25 of 44 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns.

John Wolford has no NFL regular-season snaps, but he believes in his skills and says he’ll be ready to go if Jared Goff’s streak of good fortune ends.

Bortles, 28, was Goff’s backup in 2019. The third pick in the 2014 draft played on a one-year, $1-million contract because he was still owed millions from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bortles played in three games for the Rams, completing one of two passes for three yards.

The Rams did not re-sign Bortles or any other veteran quarterback because McVay said he and the coaching staff had confidence in Wolford’s ability to step in.

Against Arizona, the Rams also will be without running back Darrell Henderson, who suffered a high ankle sprain against the Seahawks and is expected to be placed on injured reserve, McVay said. Henderson also suffered a season-ending ankle injury last season in the second-to-last game.

McVay said rookie running back Cam Akers, who sat out against the Seahawks because of a high ankle sprain, was making progress. But the Rams are expected to go with Brown, Xavier Jones and perhaps Raymond Calais at running back against the Cardinals.


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