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Odell Beckham Jr. among Rams activated from COVID-19 list, but two more go on it

Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will be activated from the COVID-19 list ahead of Tuesday's game against the Seahawks.
Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. stands on the field before a win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday. Beckham was removed from the COVID/reserve list Saturday.
(Ralph Freso / Associated Press)

The Rams were only a few days into a coronavirus outbreak when coach Sean McVay described the situation as “mind-numbing.”

Then he watched as the number of Rams players placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list grew from five to nearly 30.

“Whatever’s worse than mind-numbing,” he said Saturday when asked to assess what had transpired in four days. “I don’t know. It’s almost been hard to believe.”

The NFL provided the Rams with relief Friday when the league moved their game against the Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium from Sunday to Tuesday.

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The Rams got more positive news as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., running back Darrell Henderson, cornerback Donte Deayon, linebacker Justin Hollins, tight end Brycen Hopkins and offensive lineman Alaric Jackson came off the list and were activated to the roster.

But offensive lineman Joe Noteboom and cornerback Robert Rochell were added to a list that still includes star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, star linebacker Von Miller, starting safety Jordan Fuller and starting right tackle Rob Havenstein. More players are expected to be activated before the Rams (9-4) play the Seahawks (5-8).

The NFL delayed Sunday’s game between the Rams and Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium to Tuesday because of COVID-19 issues affecting each team.

Two days after announcing adjusted protocols that make it easier for players who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic to return to the roster, the NFL on Saturday issued revised protocols that require testing only unvaccinated players and those experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19. Higher-risk players can opt out by sending written notice to the league by Monday. The players will not be paid, and the notice is irrevocable.

“Medical information strongly indicates that this [Omicron coronavirus] variant is significantly more contagious but possibly less severe than prior variants, particularly for people who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo sent to teams. “Our experience with the Omicron variant is fully consistent with this expectation. ... In many respects, Omicron appears to be a very different illness from the one that we first confronted in the spring of 2020.”

Only unvaccinated players and those experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19 will be tested under the NFL’s revised protocols.

The Rams are one of seven teams operating under enhanced COVID-19 protocols, which mandate that meetings be conducted virtually. They returned to the field Saturday for the first time since Monday night’s game, going through what McVay described as a modified workout that did not include an open period for reporters.

The Rams have activated players from the practice squad to fortify the roster. Teams can carry 53 players, with 48 active for games. Practice squads can include 16 players.

In his 13th season, quarterback Matthew Stafford has pretty much seen it all. But that was before the coronavirus ravaged the Rams’ roster.

“It’s crazy,” Stafford said during a videoconference.

Stafford was five days removed from leading the Rams to a 30-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. At that point, five teammates were on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The number increased nearly six-fold over the next four days.

“It’s been a little bit different,” Stafford said, “no doubt about that.”

Defensive lineman Greg Gaines said he was surprised when he arrived at the team’s Thousand Oaks facility Tuesday for day-after-game treatment. He said the guard at the entrance gate told him the facility was closed.

“Thought the apocalypse was happening or something,” Gaines said during a videoconference, adding, “It’s just been kind of nuts.”

Players have been stressed about possibly testing positive, Gaines said.

“Every day you would go into test, it’s like, ‘Oh man, please don’t be me,’ ” he said.

In his first public comments since his firing, ex-Jaguars coach Urban Meyer apologized to Jacksonville and expressed regret in how his tenure unfolded.

McVay declined to say whether he or any coaches tested positive. He said he would make that information available publicly Monday.

McVay said he did not know where the outbreak began or how it spread.

“It’s kind of a never-ending journey that you’re trying to go on to figure that out,” he said, “so it’s hard to really discover where this thing first started.”

Regardless of the makeup of the roster Tuesday, McVay, Stafford and Gaines said the Rams would be ready for the Seahawks.

“I feel good about where we are,” Stafford said, “and where we’re going.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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