Rams backup quarterback John Wolford out 10-14 days after appendectomy surgery
Seemingly out of nowhere Friday morning, Rams backup quarterback John Wolford woke with pain in his abdominal area. He was diagnosed with appendicitis and later had his appendix removed, a procedure that will likely will keep him out of practice for 10 to 14 days, according to a team spokesman.
The Rams thought highly enough of Wolford that they started him in the first round of the playoffs last season even though Jared Goff was active coming off thumb surgery. Because of his encouraging performance in 2020, there was little debate entering training camp about the backup spot behind Matthew Stafford — only the third-string quarterback battle between Devlin Hodges and Bryce Perkins.
Now Hodges and Perkins will get to alternate with the No. 2 offense and show what they can do — starting with Saturday afternoon’s scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard.
“It will give Bryce and Duck [Hodges] a great opportunity just like they had today on short notice,” Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell said. “If that position is where we want, we feel like offensively the other 10 guys in the huddle can do their jobs and we can roll. But it starts with the quarterback position, making sure procedurally we’re good, calling the play right in the huddle, being right with their cadence, sending motions at the right time … there’s little things before the ball ever hits their hands that we need to make sure they do well.”
O’Connell expressed confidence in the physical tools that Hodges and Perkins bring to the table once the play is in motion.
X-rays on Matthew Stafford’s injured thumb are negative, and the quarterback returns to Rams practice Tuesday.
In his first year with the Rams, Hodges especially is working overtime mentally as he learns the offense. In 2019, Hodges started six games with the Pittsburgh Steelers, leading them to a 3-3 record and completing 62.5 percent of his passes.
“Things are still new to him, but I keep telling ‘Duck,’ I can tell the game makes sense to him when the ball is in his hands,” O’Connell said of Hodges. “He’s got some experience, was put in some tough spots where he led his team to some really good football in Pittsburgh.”
The Rams signed Perkins as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2020. Although he hasn’t played an NFL snap, he has the advantage over Hodges of having spent a year learning the Rams’ system.
Retired star Philip Rivers has not ruled out a return to the NFL, but his family is living large as he coaches high school football in Alabama.
Perkins brings another dimension as a runner, having rushed for 1,692 yards and 20 touchdowns in two years as the starter for the Cavaliers.
“From a mental standpoint, even today I felt a lot of confidence in the way he stepped into the huddle calling plays,” O’Connell said. “Now for Bryce it’s about finding the balance between executing the offense and trying to read through progressions but never limiting his ability to impact the game from an athletic standpoint. He’s really grown as a passer since he first got here fundamentally. Now it’s a matter of can he apply that in rhythm with a live pass rush.”
It’s possible given Wolford’s timeline for recovery that Hodges and Perkins will get to play a ton of football in the Rams’ three preseason games, the first coming Aug. 14 against the Chargers at SoFi Stadium.
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