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More Rams trouble: Quarterback Matthew Stafford in concussion protocol

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by Buccaneers defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9), who took his share of hits in Tampa Bay last week, is sacked by Buccaneers defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)
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A Rams season gone sideways because of injuries, controversy surrounding a top running back and performance well below expectations for the defending Super Bowl champions took another potentially bad turn.

Star quarterback Matthew Stafford is in concussion protocol, his status for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals to be determined, coach Sean McVay said Wednesday.

Stafford was placed in concussion protocol Tuesday, a team official said, two days after the Rams’ 16-13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla.

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“Still anticipating and having the optimistic approach that he’ll be ready to go,” McVay said during a news conference before the team’s jog-through workout that was not open to reporters.

If Stafford cannot play, John Wolford probably would start at quarterback, with Bryce Perkins as the backup.

Jalen Ramsey criticized the Rams’ offense for not closing out the game against the Buccaneers, and Monday coach Sean McVay said he understands the cornerback’s competitive complaint.

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“Matt is tough — I know he’s going to try and pull through and play,” receiver Van Jefferson said. “But if he can’t, we just have to be ready.”

Said safety Nick Scott: “Whoever it is, we’re going to have to just rally around them, be the best teammates we can be … to put those guys in the best situation possible.”

Stafford completed 13 of 27 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown against the Buccaneers. He was sacked four times.

McVay said it was not clear when Stafford might have suffered an injury that resulted in the medical staff’s determination to place him in concussion protocol. McVay said he did not see signs of wooziness from Stafford during a loss that dropped the Rams’ record to 3-5.

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Asked Monday afternoon about injuries that might have been suffered against the Buccaneers, McVay told reporters he had not yet spoken with Reggie Scott, the Rams’ vice president of sports medicine and performance. The Rams were off Tuesday.

Wednesday’s jog-through, rather than a full practice, was part of the Rams’ late-season approach to reduce wear and tear, not because of Stafford’s situation, McVay said.

Stafford, 34, is in his 14th NFL season. He has passed for eight touchdowns, with eight interceptions.

“I know Matthew will do everything is his power to try and be ready,” McVay said. “We’ll just take it a day at a time.”

In 2020, with quarterback Jared Goff nursing a thumb injury and a playoff spot on the line, McVay started Wolford in the season finale against the Cardinals.

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John Wolford, who will be starting for the Rams on Sunday, has been waiting for his chance to prove his achievements in college were no fluke.

Jan. 2, 2021

Wolford completed 22 of 38 passes for 231 yards, with an interception, in an 18-7 victory.

The next week, McVay started Wolford in an NFC wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks but Wolford suffered a neck injury in the first quarter and Goff came on to lead the Rams to victory.

Last season, Wolford played 24 snaps. He has not played this season.

“When I first got into the league, my goal was always to prepare as if I’m the starter,” Wolford said. “So, not much of a change. Be ready to go If I’m called on, and pumped to play if I get to.”

As Stafford nursed right elbow tendonitis during training camp, Wolford took extensive snaps with the first-team offense. That could serve him well Sunday, teammates said.

“Knowing the way John prepares and goes about his daily routine, he’s locked into whatever he has to do,” right tackle Rob Havenstein said.

McVay expressed confidence in Wolford.

“He’s got the athleticism, but he’s also got the ability to be able to make a lot of the different throws,” McVay said. “His teammates rally around him, and he’s got a great mastery and ownership of what we’re really trying to get done.”

Etc.

Running back Cam Akers, who after being exiled for two games gained three yards in five carries against the Buccaneers, said he was happy to be back on the field. “Had a limited role, but it felt good,” he said. … The Rams designated offensive lineman Coleman Shelton (ankle) to return to practice from injured reserve. McVay said running back Kyren Williams could be activated for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. ... Allen (knee), offensive tackle Alaric Jackson (knee), running back Malcolm Brown (hamstring), defensive lineman Greg Gaines (elbow), linebacker Travin Howard (hip) and cornerback Robert Rochell (illness) did not practice, according to the Rams injury report.

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