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Los Angeles Rams safety Taylor Rapp and left tackle Andrew Whitworth look set to play in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the visiting San Francisco 49ers, coach Sean McVay said Monday.
Rapp has yet to play in the playoffs due to a concussion he suffered in Week 18. Whitworth missed the Rams’ victory in the division round over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to a knee injury.
McVay said Whitworths’ replacement, Joe Noteboom, “strained his pec a bit” shortly before Matt Gay kicked a 30-yard field goal as time ran out to beat Tom Brady and the defending champions, who had stormed back from a 27 -3 third-quarter deficit to settle the match.
“[Noteboom] did a good job of finishing, “McVay said.” So we’ll kind of monitor his progress over the course of the week. Andrew Whitworth received a good treatment. I responded really well to that. He is well. I expect him to be able to train this week and see what it looks like. And then Taylor is making really big progress, he has increased some of the physical activity and he is doing well. So both guys look like they’re potentially going to be able to play on Sunday. “
Whitworth, 40, hurt his right knee in the first game of the Rams’ wildcard win over the Arizona Cardinals. He played 30 of the team’s 60 offensive snaps before Noteboom replaced him for the rest of that match.
McVay said Noteboom was “excellent” against Tampa Bay and that he had also played well in two previous fill-in starts this season.
Against Tampa Bay, Noteboom recorded a pass block winning rate of 96%. Whitworth finished third among offensive tackles in the regular season with a PBWR of 94%.
The Bucs recorded eight QB hits and two sacks on Matthew Stafford’s 40 dropbacks.
“We feel like he’s a starter,” McVay said of Noteboom. “I thought he and [right tackle Rob Havenstein] both did an excellent job in terms of the number of times and some of the stress we put on them, with the amount of dropbacks we had in that game. And being able to keep up with the rush was instrumental in us being able to win. Was really happy with Joe yesterday. “
Linebacker Ernest Jones is the only player among those the Rams recently designated to return to practice from the injured reserve, which has a chance to play against San Francisco, McVay said.
Rapp’s absence as well as the season-ending ankle injury suffered by Jordan Fuller in Week 18 have forced the Rams to play without both of their starting certainties in the team’s two playoff games. Nick Scott, who has filled in as one of the starters, intercepted Brady late in the first half on Sunday.
Terrell Burgess started again against Scott, but was surpassed 61 to 14 by veteran Eric Weddle, who came out of his two-year retirement in light of the Rapp and Fuller injuries.