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Rams vs. Seahawks game postponed until Tuesday because of COVID issues

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford runs onto the field with the rest of his teammates before a win over the Cardinals.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford runs onto the field with the rest of his teammates. The team has 25 players on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list as of Thursday.
(Ralph Freso / Associated Press)

The Rams played games this season on Sundays, Mondays and a Thursday.

Now, in wake of a coronavirus outbreak that has ravaged their roster, they will play on Tuesday.

The NFL postponed the Rams’ game against the Seattle Seahawks, which was scheduled for Sunday at SoFi Stadium, to Tuesday at 4 p.m. PST, the league announced Friday.

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The NFL also postponed two other games because of outbreaks affecting the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Football Team.

The Browns and the Las Vegas Raiders, originally scheduled to play Saturday, will play Monday night. The game between Washington and the Philadelphia Eagles, which was scheduled for Sunday, was moved to Tuesday.

“We have made these schedule changes based on medical advice and after discussion with the NFLPA as we are seeing a new, highly transmissible form of the virus this week resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the league,” the NFL said in a release announcing the changes. “We continue to make decisions in consultation with medical experts to ensure the health and safety of the NFL community.”

The Chargers and Chiefs meet in a pivotal AFC West showdown and the Rams look to stay in the hunt for the NFC West title win a win over the Seahawks.

The Rams on Friday added to the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list four more players from the roster and practice squad — tight end Tyler Higbee, linebacker Justin Lawler, guard Jamil Demby and defensive back Grant Haley. The 29 Rams players on the list includes star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., star linebacker Von Miller, starting safety Jordan Fuller and starting offensive lineman Rob Havenstein.

The Rams have not made players available to the media since Monday night, when they defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 30-23, in Glendale, Ariz., to improve their record to 9-4. Coach Sean McVay has not been made available since Tuesday.

Kevin Demoff, the Rams chief operating officer, said Friday that the team was experiencing “a very complicated, fluid situation” because of the outbreak.

“I don’t think anybody ever expected to be looking at close to 30 vaccinated players on the COVID list at the same time when trying to play a game,” Demoff said during a videoconference with reporters.

The Rams, Browns and Washington are among seven NFL teams in intensive COVID-19 protocols, which require virtual meetings, mask-wearing and other actions.

Demoff said he did not know if results of sample sequencing conducted by the NFL determined whether the outbreak was caused by Omicron, Delta or another variant.

“Our assumption, just given how potent this has been, is that it’s Omicron,” Demoff said.

Players, coaches, staff and other members of the organization who have received boosters have tested positive, he said.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley says his meteoric rise in the NFL has to do with his calculated gambles, which some see as too risky.

“Without getting too far ahead, if you put two and two together you wind up with Omicron,” Demoff said. “I don’t know if that’s how the math works in Greece, but it seems to be what has happened here.”

Before the outbreak, the Rams had no player test positive since before the season began. On Dec. 11, running back Darrell Henderson was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Last Sunday, Havenstein and cornerbacks Donte Deayon were added to the list. On Monday, hours before kickoff against the Cardinals, Ramsey and Higbee were put on the list.

On Tuesday, after it was determined he had received a false-positive test, Higbee was activated to the roster. But Beckham and eight other players were added. Linebacker Justin Hollins and others were added Wednesday and Miller was among those who swelled the list Thursday.

The NFL on Thursday announced adjusted protocols that would make it easier for players who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic to return to the roster sooner.

Demoff said most of the Rams players on the list experienced mild symptoms or were asymptomatic, and that a few might be ready to return to the roster as soon as Friday or Saturday.

“We’re studying their trajectory over the past week to see what we could expect for other players,” he said.

Demoff declined to say if coaches also have tested positive. The Rams have conducted virtual meetings this week but have not practiced.

The Rams, Washington Football Team and Cleveland Browns have been ravaged by positive coronavirus tests, and the NFL could postpone their games.

In 2020, the NFL rescheduled several games because of COVID-19 issues, but that was during a season in which fans were not allowed in most stadiums because of the pandemic.

The postponement of Sunday’s game creates logistical challenges in regard to the availability of stadium workers and traffic control around the stadium, among other issues.

During the week, the Rams were in discussions with the NFL about possibly postponing the game against the Seahawks.

Chargers tight end Donald Parham Jr. stayed overnight in the hospital with a concussion after a scary injury and is expected to be discharged Friday.

Because of the outbreak, Demoff said main concerns were the number of available players, providing players enough time to recover and making sure seldom-used players had adequate time to prepare.

NFL rosters include 53 players, 48 of whom can be active on game days. Teams can carry 16 practice-squad players, who are eligible to be activated to the roster for games.

“We certainly went to the league early in this week and wanted to know what the options were,” he said. “Was a postponement possible? What was the process to look at that like?

“By the end we were certainly not to the only ones in this position considering this. Were we pushing it for it? ... By the time it happened, yes.”


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