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Jared Goff will start for Rams against Packers as John Wolford’s neck injury lingers

 Rams quarterback Jared Goff passes under pressure from the Seahawks defense.
Quarterback Jared Goff came off the bench to lead the Rams to an NFC wild-card playoff victory over Seattle last week.
(Scott Eklund / Associated Press)

There will be no more misdirection or skullduggery, no attempts to hide who will start at quarterback for the Rams.

At least not for the rest of this week.

Coach Sean McVay on Thursday announced that Jared Goff would start on Saturday when the Rams play the Green Bay Packers in an NFC divisional-round playoff game Lambeau Field.

John Wolford, who started last week’s wild-card game against the Seattle Seahawks, was ruled out because of a neck injury he suffered in the first quarter that forced him to leave the game.

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Goff’s play off the bench in the 30-20 victory — despite being 12 days removed from right thumb surgery — and Wolford’s inability to practice seemingly prevented McVay from employing the same mysterious storyline he created last week.

Goff said Thursday that his healing, and his comfort playing with three screws in his thumb, was improving. The velocity of his passes also has improved since last week.

Brad Holmes, the Rams’ director of college scouting, has agreed to terms with the Detroit Lions to become the team’s general manager.

“Every day it gets better,” he said during a videoconference with reporters after practice. “Every day I feel better. Every day it gets a little more comfortable and continues to feel much better.”

Goff, who signed a $134-million extension before the 2019 season, has started four playoff games. The Rams lost to the Atlanta Falcons in a wild-card game in 2017. The next season, they defeated the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints before losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

Wolford will travel with the team to Green Bay, Wis., but Blake Bortles will be Goff’s backup, and Bryce Perkins might be activated from the practice squad, McVay said.

Rams quarterback John Wolford is tended to by medical personnel after being injured against the Seattle Seahawks.
Rams quarterback John Wolford is tended to by medical personnel after being injured against the Seattle Seahawks.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press
)

Goff completed nine of 19 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. He said afterward that he felt fine and was not in pain.

“I think it’s a credit to who he is as a man that he can be able to step in and do what he did,” McVay said Thursday before practice. “And now this week has represented an opportunity for him to build on last week and get another week removed from that thumb injury. ... He’s played in a lot of big games and this is a great opportunity for us and with him leading our offense feel great about the chance.”

McVay said against the Seahawks the thumb injury had affected Goff in certain aspects.

“There were some throws that he’s typically fairly automatic on that maybe he missed,” McVay said. “When you watched him throw last week to this week it is definitely trending in the right direction that’s more in alignment and, really, it looks like the Jared that we’re accustomed to.”

The Houston Texans are latest NFL team to request an interview from L.A. Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley for their head coaching position.

Asked if McVay’s decision not to start him last week would impact Goff’s relationship with his coach going forward, Goff said they were “able to disagree” on the status of his thumb and that “it’s not the end of the world.”

“He is the head coach,” Goff said. “He has to make tough decisions like that. At the end of the day, it was last week, and we’ve moved on.”

Goff was asked if there was an estimated timeline for when the screws in right thumb would be removed.

“They’ll stay in until I’m six feet under,” he said.

In anticipation of cold weather in Green Bay, Goff has practiced this week with gloves on both hands. The apparel can protect his thumb, keep his hands warmer and improve grip.

“Considering it for Saturday,” he said. “We’ll see where we’re at there on game day.”

Wolford started in place of Goff in the season-ending victory over the Arizona Cardinals. He said that “it was not fun,” to have his opportunity cut short against the Seahawks.

Matt Gay, the third kicker employed by the Rams this season, has been the model of consistency. He made all six kick attempts in Rams’ playoff opener last week against Seattle.

“I was extremely excited to have that chance,” he said. “Big game up in Seattle. I really wanted to play that whole thing and really show what I had to offer. So, just bad timing.

“But you take these things in stride. You move on, you work to get better, and I’ll be ready the next chance I get.”

Wolford declined to specify the exact nature of his injury. Asked if he would be available if the Rams defeat the Packers and advance to the NFC championship game, he said the Rams were evaluating his condition daily.

“I’m going to defer to the doctors on that,” he said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to be ready as soon as possible, and then we’ll consult with them and see what their opinion is.”

Etc.

Defensive lineman Aaron Donald (rib) was limited in practice, according to the injury report, but is expected to play against the Packers. Receiver Cooper Kupp (knee) and right guard David Edwards did not practice. McVay has said that Kupp could play this week despite not practicing. ... Brad Holmes, the Rams’ director of college scouting, was hired by the Detroit Lions to be their general manager. Holmes, 41, worked for the Rams for 18 years, starting as a public relations intern before joining the scouting department and working his way up to become a director, a position he held for the last eight years…. The Houston Texans requested permission to interview defensive coordinator Brandon Staley for their head coach job. Staley interviewed this week with the Chargers and New York Jets.


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