Rams’ situation with DeSean Jackson and lineup changes can’t compare to Texans’ problems

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay before playing the Detroit Lions.
Rams coach Sean McVay looks on during a win over the Detroit Lions on Oct. 24.
(John McCoy / Associated Press)

Going into the week, despite a three-game winning streak, there wasn’t much buzz about the Rams.

They were coming off a tougher-than-expected victory over Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions and looking ahead to another game against an overmatched opponent — the Houston Texans.

Then general manager Les Snead made things interesting.

In a surprise move, to clear salary-cap space, the Rams traded starting inside linebacker Kenny Young. A few days later, coach Sean McVay announced they were seeking to trade receiver DeSean Jackson.


Both moves could have implications as Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline approaches.

Speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson has not been used much by Rams this season and has requested to be traded. He won’t play Sunday against the Houston Texans.

But first the Rams, off to a 6-1 start and regarded as a Super Bowl contender, must play a Texans team that appears to be maneuvering for the opportunity to lose enough games to secure a high draft pick.

The Texans are 1-6. First-year coach David Culley was dealt a bad hand that has only gotten worse. But he makes no excuses.

“We’re 1-6, and believe me, we are what our record says what we are,” Culley told Los Angeles reporters.

Culley began his NFL coaching career in 1994. He worked as an assistant for six teams before the Texans hired him as head coach. He does not make excuses.

But he inherited a mess.

Star quarterback Deshaun Watson reportedly wanted out of Houston even before off-the-field troubles — 22 women filed civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault and sexual harassment — kept him sidelined.

“It has not been an issue at all this season — I mean at all,” Culley said, adding, “We agreed that we were going to deal with the situation in a particular way and it happened that way.”

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor led the Texans to a season-opening victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he suffered a hamstring injury in the next game and has not played since. This week, the Texans traded running back Mark Ingram, their leading rusher, to the New Orleans Saints.

Veteran receiver Brandin Cooks was less than thrilled.

“This is bull---. Such a joke,” Cooks tweeted.

Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks runs with the ball against the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 17.
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

Cooks played for the Rams in 2018 and 2019. Now he will play against a Rams team that is attempting to maintain momentum gained from consecutive victories over the Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants and the Lions.

The Rams are one of five NFC teams with one loss, including the Arizona Cardinals, who defeated the Rams 37-20 on Oct. 3.

Last Sunday, the Cardinals routed the Texans 31-5 and then suffered their first defeat on Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers.

Culley noted finishes are more important than starts.

“This is October,” he said. “People only remember what happened in November and December, and it’s a whole different deal as you move forward. To be able to maintain that you have to keep playing good football.”

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive lineman Aaron Donald are star players primed to improve their already impressive statistics against the Texans.

But because of the Young trade, Jackson’s situation — the 14th year pro will not play Sunday — and injuries suffered against the Lions, the Rams’ lineup against the Texans could have the feel of a glamorized preseason game.

The Rams are heavy favorites to beat the Houston Texans on Sunday, so prop bets are the way to go on this game unless you’re ready to play it risky.

Rookie linebacker Ernest Jones is expected to start in place of Young. Rookie receiver Tutu Atwell could play significant snaps on offense for the first time.

This week, before the Rams’ intent to trade Jackson became public, McVay said he wanted to see an increased sense of urgency from Atwell. On Friday, McVay was asked if he was confident Atwell could step into the deep-threat role Jackson was signed to provide.

“I think we’ll see,” McVay said.

Joe Noteboom will start in place of injured left tackle Andrew Whitworth, and rookie Bobby Brown III could play significant snaps in a rotation to replace injured nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day.

Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was absent from practice on Thursday and Friday because of illness, McVay said. But he did not expect that to affect Ramsey’s availability on Sunday.

With the Tennessee Titans and running back Derrick Henry coming to SoFi Stadium next Sunday, the game against the Titans is one the Rams could afford for Ramsey and others to sit out.