Odell Beckham Jr. is among nine Rams put on reserve/COVID-19 list
As the COVID-19 pandemic affected multiple NFL teams in 2020 and through most of this season, the Rams remained largely out of harm’s way.
But that changed last week, and the onslaught continued Tuesday when the team announced that receiver Odell Beckham Jr., safety Jordan Fuller and seven more Rams players had been put on the reserve/COVID list.
Along with Beckham and Fuller, defensive back Terrell Burgess, tight end Brycen Hopkins, defensive back JuJu Hughes, offensive lineman Alaric Jackson, nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, practice squad defensive lineman Jonah Williams and practice squad defensive back Tyler Hall were put on the list.
Also on Tuesday, tight end Tyler Higbee was activated to the roster.
Matthew Stafford obliterated doubts about his ability to win big games with a brilliant performance in the Rams’ 30-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Higbee was among five players who were put on the list in the days leading up to and in the hours before Monday night’s 30-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Higbee, running back Darrell Henderson, offensive lineman Rob Havenstein and cornerbacks Donte Deayon and Jalen Ramsey did not play against the Cardinals.
Coach Sean McVay said Tuesday that the Rams were in intensive protocols mandated by the NFL,
which includes daily testing, and that they would work remotely Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Rams (9-4) play the Seattle Seahawks (5-8) on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
“This has definitely been the most uniquely challenging situation we’ve dealt with with COVID over the last two years, no doubt about it,” McVay said during a videoconference with reporters before the latest list of players affected was announced.
McVay has said that all but one player on the team was vaccinated. He reiterated Tuesday that all of the players that were put on the list have been vaccinated.
“That’s the thing that’s the most concerning about all of this is, everybody’s done exactly what they could,” McVay said. “I trust that these guys are taking the right precautionary measures and now, whether it’s this new variant or whatever it is, now you’re adding a lot of layers to this situation that we thought we were past, and that’s the thing that I think is the most mind-numbing about it all for me.”
The Rams proved they can beat a team with a winning record, Matthew Stafford shined and players stepped up to replace 5 teammates on COVID list.
McVay said he expected more players and staff members would be affected. He said he was awaiting his own test result.
“I feel great though, but that doesn’t really mean anything anymore,” he said. “All these guys that are popping positives feel outstanding.”
McVay, clearly exasperated, quipped that, “We shouldn’t be testing” and that he probably would be fined.
But he said the Rams were following all protocols.
“We never have experienced anything close to this magnitude as it pertains to COVID, and so this is definitely something that’s been eye opening — and it’s something that, hey, you just have to figure it out.
“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. We’ve got to keep it moving. And so, what that looks like is going to be interesting.”
How the Rams prepare for the Seahawks, and who will be available to play and coach, will be determined in coming days.
The Rams’ Thousand Oaks training facility is made up of temporary modular buildings, a series of trailers that do not offer great ventilation, McVay said. But it also features a large outdoor tent that was used for meetings throughout the 2020 season.
The number of players available to attend meetings or workouts is shrinking.
Beckham, who signed as a free agent in November, has become an integral part of the offense. Against the Cardinals, he scored a touchdown on a short slant route. It was his third touchdown in the last three games.
“Still a couple things I can hone in on,” he said after the game. “It’s definitely not easy coming in and learning a whole new playbook but I’m doing the best that I can.
“Finding ways to make plays when we need ‘em.”
Fuller, a second-year pro, is a team captain and the defensive signal caller.
Burgess and Hopkins were among several seldom-used players who stepped up and performed well against the Cardinals in the absence of starters.
After the victory on Monday, and again on Tuesday, McVay noted the contributions of many of those players.
Depending on who goes onto and comes off the reserve/COVID-19 list the rest of this week, those players could again play prominent roles against the Seahawks and perhaps beyond. The Rams play road games against the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens before the season finale against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium.
McVay and his staff are grappling with how to best implement their plan for the Seahawks.
“It’s on to the next one for us, especially in a short week,” he said. “What does that really look like, and who we’ll be doing it with?
“Woo, hoo. This is some crazy stuff.”
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