Rams working diligently in return to play

(News4usonline) – Game week for the Los Angeles Rams this season has normally been about planning for the next opponent. In the Rams’ case, prepping for quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks for a Sunday afternoon contest.

That routine got tossed to the wind this week due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus that forced more than two dozen of the team’s players to go on the NFL’s health and safety protocols list. The Rams are scheduled to play Seattle on Tuesday, Dec. 21.

Rams head coach Sean McVay, in a conference video call with reporters, said all of his players have been vaccinated and the team is still grappling with how all of this unfolded after the team’s emotional road win against the Arizona Cardinals just a week ago on Monday Night Football.

“I’m certainly not an expert in that arena. What I do believe is that our players have followed everything that we’ve asked,” remarked McVay. “They all got vaccinated. I have total trust and confidence that they’re smart with the decisions that they’re making and in a lot of instances too, when you think you’re vaccinated (you think), ‘Okay, I can go have a nice meal at a restaurant with a family member.’ But I think in large part, my understanding is it’s kind of a circumstance of the location that we’re at.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford
  • Save
Oct. 24, 2021. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford had a good day against his former team. Stafford passed for 334 yards and three touchdowns in the Rams’ 28-19 win at Sofi Stadium. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

“Where it started, I don’t know that, but I do know how volatile this thing is where it can spread like wildfire and it can go really fast. But I don’t believe it was because of any reckless decisions or behavior that our players were taking part in.”

McVay would go on to say that in his estimation that the team’s outbreak may have had to do with geographic location more than anything else.

“I think it’s more of a reflection of the area,” McVay said. “I hope that I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem like those other teams are going to be extinct from having to go through this. Just based on what I’m learning about this variant and how volatile it is…I don’t think it was anything that they could have done to change this. I think it was more of a victim of kind of the area that we live in and maybe one guy exposed and then it spreads very quickly as a result of that.”

After a couple of days of in-house exploration of trying to mitigate the possible spread to players and team personnel, the Rams got back into a semblance of normalcy with a media Zoom call with McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford participating.

However, there is no doubt that the team is still reeling from going from the high of recording an emotional win against the Cardinals to suddenly having to get in front of a virus that has impacted millions of lives across the globe.

  • Save
Oct. 3, 2021. Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. (27) is on the move against the Arizona Cardinals. Henderson rushed for 89 yards on 14 carries in the Rams’ first defeat of the season. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

“I’ll tell you what. It’s been challenging, but I couldn’t be prouder of just the way that our players, our staff, the people that are kind of at the frontline of helping facilitate – trying to get this as organized as possible,” said McVay. “Been really pleased with that. And you’re trying to learn as much as you can with this new variant and how volatile it’s been. So, incredibly emotional week. You have a great win on Monday.”

McVay continued, “Then Tuesday morning, you wake up, you find out there’s a handful of players that tested positive. So, then you really go into, okay, what’s the next step in terms of trying to prevent this spread, getting the appropriate information delivered to our players. And really, it’s been a whirlwind for the last couple days, as we’ve kind of tried to figure out where you know the numbers are only just going to continue to compound.” 

The first case of Covid-19 was discovered in Wuhan, China, in 2019. Vaccine antidote shots and wearing masks have been effective in stopping or slowing down the virus. That recently changed. Although the Delta variant remains the main strain of the virus, the newly discovered Omicron is now wreaking havoc here in the United States and in the rest of the world.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first case of Omicron was discovered on Nov. 11 in Botswana. The first U.S. Omicron case was confirmed to be Dec. 1. Since that discovery, there has been a massive uptick in Covid-19 cases. Los Angeles County saw its daily number of positive tests hit 3,730 on Saturday (December 18).

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) making it happen against the Detroit Lions. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline
  • Save
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) making it happen against the Detroit Lions. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

To get ahead of the spread, the state of California has re-imposed an indoor mask policy for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. The outbreak among the Rams as well with other teams around the league was not something that anyone could forecast, Stafford said.

“It wasn’t something that I think anybody could see coming, including the NFL,” commented Stafford. “We had to kind of make the appropriate adjustments on the fly and that’s tough to do. But I don’t think it was anything that we saw coming. I don’t think the players, or the coaches, or the league probably saw this one coming at such a mass scale, I would say. But I think they did the right thing. We’ll move forward and, hopefully, can do a better job of just having things ready to go for when things happen and play the games.”

As for prepping for Seattle, Stafford knows what to expect from a defense spearheaded by head coach Pete Carroll. And he knows that it’s going to be another divisional game that’s going to be tough.

“They’re really well coached. They’re assignment sound and they’ve got playmakers – both on the defensive side of the ball and on the offensive side of the ball,” Stafford said. “(Seahawks QB) Russell’s (Wilson) done a heck of a job coming back from his injury with his finger and started to really play some high-quality football as of late, making big plays like he always has.

“And then on the defensive side, they’re still affecting the quarterback, doing a good job against the run, and guys on the back end making plays on the football. So, it’s about us going out there and executing our game, playing, and playing well within ourselves at home, and trying to get a win.”

Featured Image Caption: December 5, 2021. Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson (12) with the touchdown grab against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline