‘It Gets Strange Without Whit’: Rams Adapts to Life Without Andrew Whitworth

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Andrew Whitworth was the left tackle for the Los Angeles Rams for five seasons, but somehow it felt like more.

Whitworth came to the Rams in 2017 when they came after a 4-12 season where they played in the aging Los Angeles Coliseum and were quarterbacked by Jared Goff. When he retired earlier this month, the Rams were Super Bowl champions, playing in the most modern NFL stadiums at SoFi Stadium and quarterback of Matthew Stafford.

It’s going to take Rams some time to get used to a world without him.

“It’s a new era of Ram’s offensive line,” said center Brian Allen. “It’s going to be weird without Whit there.”

The Rams have nurtured his replacement, Joe Noteboom – a third-round pick in 2018 – for the past four seasons. Noteboom has played various offensive positions, started a total of 17 games in the regular season and was recently re-signed by the Rams to a three-year, $ 40 million contract with $ 25 million guaranteed.

“The best thing is to know that the coaches trust you to sign you back to a contract here and put you in that spot,” Noteboom said. “But it’s also a challenge. Being the guy now comes with a little more responsibility. It motivates more than ever.”

Noteboom said his four seasons as Whitworth’s teammate were not wasted. He said he learned things such as work habits, preparing his body for a long season and dieting from veteran gear.

“It was a perfect situation [to learn], “said Noteboom.” There was no other guy in the league I would rather have been behind in those four years. It gives me confidence to go into it. “

Noteboom played a part at both tackle spots and left guard last season, his first with Stafford as his teammate.

“He’s a plug-and-play player for us,” Stafford said. “Wherever we needed him, he stepped in and played at a high level against some really quality opponents. I look forward to seeing his development on the left and watching him do his part for a lot of years.”

Allen and Noteboom arrived the same season as Ram’s draft pick. Allen said Noteboom has been the “left tackle on hold” over the past four years, even as he moves around the offensive line.

“I think the left tackle spot really is where he wants to shine the most,” Allen said. “I’m looking forward to him getting this opportunity to really be the guy … I’ve absorbed so much wisdom and so many things that Whit taught him over the four years.”

Allen also re-signed with the Rams this year on a three-year, $ 18 million contract, with $ 10 million guaranteed.

“It was definitely a little more stressful than I thought it would be … when I was the first time I’ve been through a free agency, so I was really not sure what to expect or what I was actually giving. me to, “he said. “But I wanted to be back in LA, and I’m excited about how things turned out.

“I really did not want to leave without knowing how much better I could be in our offensive. It was definitely something that was in the back of my mind that I did not want to go somewhere and be in a situation where I did not have someone like Matt to work with … he would be a difficult person to tell you to travel. “

Losing Whitworth is not the only change coming to the Rams on offense. They also swapped wide receiver Robert Woods for the Tennessee Titans for a sixth-round pick in 2023. But they added another receiver, Allen Robinson II, in free agency with a three-year, $ 46.5 million contact and re-signed Stafford for a four-year contract extension worth $ 160 million.

The Rams could still re-sign wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., though he will not be available early next season after tearing his ACL in the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

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